Social Work

Social Work Placements

Welcome to social work field education at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Field education provides students with the opportunity to put their University learning into practice and explore the world of social work. For the majority of students, the field education experience confirms their interest in and commitment to social work. Field education provides rich opportunities for students to develop their knowledge, skills and social work identity via workplace learning. 

The success of our fieldwork program depends on the meaningful partnerships and quality working relationships between the University and agencies. These partnerships are based on mutual respect, collaboration and commitment to student development. The University acknowledges and appreciates the immense contribution of agencies, staff and service users who freely give their time, commitment, resources and expertise to the education of our social work students.

It is a requirement of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) that students undertake two 500 hour field education (placement) subjects during their social work degree. Students are to attend placement 3-4 days per week for the duration of the 500 hours. In extenuating circumstances, variations to the days per week will be considered by the subject coordinator and must be accompanied by support documents (eg reasonable adjustment, medical certificates) in order to be compliant with the AASW accreditation requirements.

All placements are sourced by our experienced Field Education Coordinators. You will be matched to placement based on a variety of factors including your areas of interest, your availability, your location and areas that would be problematic for you to be placed.

Key Information

Any student who undertakes placement in a NSW Health facility or service is required to provide evidence of compliance with screening and vaccination schedules. To do this, you will participate in the NSW Health Verification Process. Although not all social work students will attend placement in a NSW Health facility, it is strongly encouraged for all to participate in the verification process to maximise your placement opportunities. 

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) provides student compliance services for the University of Wollongong.  ISLHD have created a Student Compliance Web page that details the forms and documents required for NSW Health student compliance. The information on the ISLHD page is also relevant for other local health districts in NSW. Supplementary information can be found below.

It is recommended that you start the verification process as soon as possible as it can take up to five months to complete all of the requirements. Do this by taking the following steps.

1. Obtain an Australian National Police Check (NPC). An Australian NPC can be purchased through all State or Territory Police Forces, the Australian Federal Police or a number of Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited bodies. 

Before purchasing your NPC, please consider the following:

  • Most ACIC accredited bodies’ police checks need to be validated within three (3) months of purchase. Failure to do so will mean they are no longer valid and you will need to purchase a new check.
  • A valid NPC must be held for the duration of your placement/s.
  • If you have a charge or a conviction listed on your National Police Certificate, you must also apply for a Clinical Placement Clearance; the application process is detailed on the Student Compliance Web page.

International Students must also provide a National Police Check from their home country or any country they have resided in since turning 18 years of age.  If they cannot provide this police check, they can sign the Overseas Student Statutory Declaration as detailed on the Student Compliance Web page. Please note, this Statutory Declaration can only be completed after arriving in NSW.

2. Complete the NSW Health forms as included on the Student Compliance Web page, these include:

  • Student Undertaking / Declaration
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Assessment Tool
  • Code of Conduct Agreement

3. Download the Vaccination Record Card for Health Care Workers and Students and take it to your GP or NSW Health Staff Clinic for them to complete.

4. Collate evidence of your vaccinations, including any relevant serology reports (blood test results).

Review the tips and links on the Student Compliance website regarding “What evidence do I need?”, “What constitutes evidence?” and other hints on what is required.

Please note: For Hepatitis B vaccinations, the minimum requirement is for students to have documented evidence of receiving at least the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine.  If you meet all other requirements, and have had your first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine, you will likely be given temporary verification approval by NSW Health.  If this is the case, please send your Vaccination Record Card and any other evidence to the UOW Verification Team for processing. 

If temporary verification status is approved it will last for 6 months and you will be able to commence placement during that time.  You will still need to complete the full series of Hepatitis B vaccinations within that 6 month period to gain full compliance.

5. Scan all of your documents, including a copy of your UOW Student ID Card, into a PDF format. Please ensure that your documents, in total, do not exceed 8MB in size.

6. Take the ‘Ready for Verification’ Quiz on the NSW Health Verification Readiness Moodle site to ensure you have satisfied the requirements and should send your documents to the verification team.

7. Using your UOW email address, send all documents to the UOW Verification Team

Remember to: 

  • Keep the total size of your email below 8MB
  • Use your UOW email address to send your documentation to the UOW Verification team
  • Include your Full Name, Student Number and your Course Discipline in all correspondence with the UOW Verification Team.
  • Keep all of your original verification documentation in a safe place. You may be asked to produce certain documents prior to commencing placement, even after you have become fully verified by NSW Health, particularly if you are placed in a non-NSW Health facility.  You will also need to produce most of these documents to a future employer.  Your student compliance will not carry over into the workplace.  It is your responsibility as a student to keep these documents and produce them when requested. 

Contact the UOW Verification Team for any questions or further assistance.

Please note that if any of your police certificates or vaccinations expire whilst you are on placement your verification status will change to not compliant and you will need to cease your placement until your compliant status has been re-instated. Please send any updated documents to well before (at least 30 days) the expiry date to ensure your verification status does not expire.

NSW Health strongly recommends and prefers that all students attending or planning to attend a placement in NSW Health obtain their COVID-19 vaccination, in consultation with a General Practitioner if required.
Students can make a booking for vaccination by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker, which gives them access to a number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics across NSW including GP and NSW Health clinics. When booking their appointment, students need to identify as a ‘health care worker’. All students will need to provide proof of occupation, which can be in the form of a university ID card or an enrolment confirmation letter from the University.

In addition to the above verification requirements, the below checks are mandatory for all social work students:

  • Working with children check (can be for paid or volunteer work)
  • Obtain and hold a valid Australian National Police Certificate (NPC) for the duration of your placement/s.  National Police Certificates (or National Police Checks) are available through all State or Territory Police Forces, the Australian Federal Police or a number of Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited bodies.  NPC's are valid for five years from date of issue.
  • If you are an International Student, in addition to an Australian NPC, you must also provide a National Police Certificate from your home country (or any country you have resided in for more than 6 months since turning 18 years of age).  If this is not possible, you must complete the Overseas Student Statutory Declaration which needs to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, a Legal Practitioner or a Judicial Officer. Please note, this Declaration can only be completed after arriving in NSW.
  • Student Field Application form and Placement Acknowledgement Form (will be sent to you when applicable)
  • Attend a pre-placement consultation with a UOW Field Education Coordinator (information will be provided when applicable)

The above checks will have deadlines in order for you to be allocated a placement. Deadlines will be communicated to you via your UOW Mail when placement preparation begins.

The University will attempt to secure placement opportunities in various locations predominately throughout the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, South Western Sydney and Sydney region. However, some placements may be located outside of this area and may result in students having to travel to places that are relatively distant from campus and their residences in order to benefit from a range of placement experiences. Currently, the recommended maximum travel time from a student’s place of residence to the placement agency should be no greater than one hour (or 90km). The student’s learning needs and placement experience will take priority over the distance of the placement. The student is responsible for all costs associated with undertaking a field placement.

  • What if I have previous experience in the Social Work industry?

    There is the possibility of being assessed for recognition of prior learning (RPL) for the first field placement or part thereof. UOW is guided by the AASW guidelines in relation to RPL assessment. Please see RPL/CPL section on this page for more detailed information.

  • How long is a placement?

    The AASW requires all students undertaking a Social Work degree to undertake 1000 hours of placements per degree. UOW delivers these requirements in two 500 hour placements (in different practice fields) per degree (approximately 70 days based on 7 hours a day plus 30 minutes for lunch). Each placement must commence at least one year apart.

  • How many days per week will I attend placement?

    Placements are usually four days per week in the agency. This is negotiated between yourself and the agency at the pre-placement agency interview. You will also attend compulsory seminars (tutorials) alongside your attendance in the agency. Details can be found on the subject timetable.

  • When does placement commence?

    Bachelor of Social Work first placement - Mid January

    Bachelor of Social Work second placement - End June

    Master of Social Work (Qualifying) first or second placement - Start May

    Master of Social Work (Qualifying) first or second placement - Start October

  • Will I get paid for my placement?

    Being paid for a field education placement is not the standard practice. We understand it's difficult not to get paid for such a large duration however all Australian Universities are governed by the requirements as outlined by the AASW when offering an accredited program.

  • Can I do my placement where I work?

    Yes but there are strict guidelines from the AASW with regards to work-based placements. You must perform a different role for your placement to what you are employed in. There needs to be a formal agreement between the University and your workplace.

  • Where can I do my placement?

    Placements are usually undertaken in settings, including community service organisations, health, mental health, research projects, youth, children and family services, aged care and occasionally education providers.

  • Do I need to find my own placement?

    No. All placements are sourced by our Field Education Coordinators. You will submit a field application form and attend a consultation prior to being allocated a placement.

Bachelor of Social Work – SOWK310/343 Supervised Professional Practice I

Master of Social Work (Qualifying) - SOWK916 Professional Practice Placement I

  1. Take responsibility for professional practice;
  2. Take responsibility for administrative requirement in the agency;
  3. Demonstrate a commitment to professional and civic engagement in practice settings;
  4. Initiate and sustain relationships with individuals, families, groups and or communities;
  5. Identify, assess and respond to risk, diversity, rights and/or responsibilities as appropriate;
  6. Identify and explore needs in context with individuals, families, groups and/or communities;
  7. Establish a process to observe and analyse information;
  8. Set goals and monitor specific service arrangements as required in the agency context;
  9. Implement appropriate and negotiated activities.

Bachelor of Social Work - SOWK410 Supervised Professional Practice II

Master of Social Work (Qualifying) - SOWK924 Professional Practice Placement II

  1. Construct effective practice approaches in working with diverse groups using a human rights and social justice framework;
  2. Form purposeful relationships with individuals, families, groups and or communities in complex contexts;
  3. Gather selective information on psychosocial issues including consumers’ and community perspectives;
  4. Interpret the multifaceted needs of individuals, families, groups and or communities;
  5. Establish a process to synthesise information from individuals, families, groups and or communities;
  6. Design plans for safe and effective practice;
  7. Implement appropriate and negotiated activities with individuals, families, groups and communities;
  8. Propose models for effective practice in programs and services using evidence from practice;
  9. Consult with supervisors to resolve ethical, legal, policy and administrative dilemmas in professional practice;
  10. Demonstrate a commitment to professional and civic engagement in practice settings.

The AASW and UOW acknowledge that social work students bring with them skills, knowledge and experience that can be recognised through the RPL/CPL assessment process. You can only apply for RPL/CPL for your first placement. 

To determine if you are eligible for full or partial recognition/credit of prior learning for your first placement you will need to meet the current criteria outlined by the AASW guidelines for Recognition for Prior Learning in the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS). 

Your application and evidence will be assessed by UOW in keeping with the UOW and AASW RPL/CPL assessment process and you will be informed of the outcome with enough time to withdraw from the subject before census, submit a grievance regarding the RPL/CPL assessment outcome or make arrangements to continue with your placement.

Below are the guidelines specified by the AASW for RPL/CPL:

  • I can demonstrate that I have at least three years (full-time equivalent) in a health or welfare setting that would be deemed appropriate as a field education setting for a first placement student.
  • I can demonstrate that the tasks in the roles I have held are similar to those of a Social Worker, for example, casework, risk assessment, counselling, management or community development work.
  • For each role I am using as evidence, I am able to provide a referee to verify I performed the tasks I have stated
  • I am able to forward a portfolio of evidence that will meet UOW and AASW RPL requirements.
  • I understand that to be assessed for RPL/CPL, I need to submit necessary documentation in addition to my evidence by the date advised by the field education team. These documents include UOW Learning Statement, UOW Application for Credit for Prior Learning, Student Performance Evaluation Addressing AASW Graduate Attributes and UOW HAS RPL/CPL Assessment Document.

All students who are eligible for placement will be contacted about their intention to apply for RPL/CPL and there will also be information sessions advertised to actively enrolled students. If you have questions about the RPL/CPL application process after reviewing the pre-placement Moodle site, please contact your campus Field Education Team for assistance.

Please self enrol in our pre-placement Moodle site to find all the information you need in order to be ready for placement or apply for recognition of prior learning. The site is not a subject, enter the site name in the search box on your Moodle home page (use the self enrol document linked above). The site name can be found on your Sonia home page.

Our social work placements are coordinated by our Field Education Team. If you still have questions after reading through the information supplied, please email our team via our placement email address