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

If you are completing a health-related program, you must meet mandatory NSW Health Student Compliance requirements for:

  • Immunisations and vaccinations,
  • Code of Conduct, and
  • Police check.

Evidence of you meeting these requirements must be provided. UOW will forward your evidence to NSW Health and they will verify your compliance. This must be done prior to you attending a placement within a NSW Health Facility.

UOW has produced a one page “checklist” that outlines what is required.

NSW Health Compliance and Verification Assistance UOW Checklist (PDF: 145 KB)

Further details of the specific requirements can be found on this web page.

Full details and some FAQ’s can be found on the NSW Health student compliance page of the Health Education and Training website (HETI). Students should also review the HETI website to acquaint themselves with the NSW Health Policy document Occupational Assessment, Screening and Vaccination Against Specified Infectious Diseases.

It is strongly recommended that all students (including future students) start collating immunisation & vaccination evidence as soon as possible.  Some vaccination courses can take several months to complete (e.g., a full course of Hepatitis B can take 5 months).

It is your responsibility to comply with these requirements and to maintain your compliance throughout your course. If you do not, you may be prevented from attending placements. 

1. Immunisation and vaccination details

You must provide evidence of all vaccinations as stipulated in the NSW Health Policy. This includes:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (whooping cough) - dTpa
  • COVID-19 – The minimum requirement is 2 doses (primary course)
  • Hepatitis B (including evidence of immunity via serology (blood test))
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR); either 2 vaccine doses OR evidence of immunity via serology OR birth date before 1966
  • Varicella; either age-appropriate dose/s OR evidence of immunity via serology

NOTE: If you have not received all your required vaccinations, discuss options of receiving these ASAP with your GP / health care provider.

Evidence of immunisation / vaccination

The best form of evidence of your immunisation and vaccination status is a copy of your Immunisation history statement from Medicare Australia (for COVID-19, a copy of your COVID-19 Digital Certificate will meet requirements).

Important privacy note: Older copies of immunisation history statement OR COVID-19 digital certificate documents include an Individual Health Identifier (IHI). As this number is a personal identifier, you must remove (redact or black out) this number before providing it to UOW or NSW Health. To remove your IHI either print your document to PDF & use the ‘Redacting’ tool in ADOBE or follow the instructions on the video from the HETI Website student compliance page. Newer versions of these documents, i.e. from early 2023, will not include your IHI and will not need to be modified. Please ensure the most up-to-date evidence is provided.

If your immunisation history statement does not capture your full immunisation / vaccination history, you will need to provide additional evidence. Download a copy of the NSW Governments Vaccination Record Card for Health Care Workers and Students and have your GP or health care provider complete it (use the current version from this link as older versions will not be accepted). Ensure your GP/health care provider sign, date, and use a practice stamp for all entries made on the form.

Other acceptable forms of evidence could be a childhood immunisation record (e.g., Baby Blue Book (or similar)); a school vaccination card; or other vaccination records.

For COVID-19 vaccines administered in Australia, the only acceptable evidence of vaccination is either, a Medicare Australia Immunisation History Statement (IHS), a COVID-19 and Influenza IHS or a COVID-19 digital certificate.

For COVID-19 vaccines administered overseas, overseas COVID-19 vaccination records are acceptable evidence if the NSW Health assessor is satisfied that the evidence is from a legitimate source, the vaccine is approved for use or recognised in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and it was received on or after 1 March 2020.  Any vaccination records recorded in a foreign language must be translated to English using a translation service. 

If you have a medical contraindication to any COVID vaccine, you will need to provide specific evidence of your circumstances to NSW Health. Full details of the requirements are listed under the COVID-19 vaccination heading on the HETI website student compliance page.

Minimum Vaccination Requirements for Temporary Compliance

If you have recently commenced your Hepatitis B vaccine regimen OR are part way through, you meet the minimum vaccination requirement for Hepatitis B compliance. The full requirements for Hepatitis B can take five (5) months (see the table below detailing the acceptable Adult Hepatitis B regimen).

If you meet the minimum requirement, you will likely be granted Temporary Compliant status and will be able to attend a health-related placement. To be given this status you must also have met ALL OTHER vaccination requirements as stipulated on the NSW Governments Vaccination Record Card for Health Care Workers and Students and have completed ALL declaration forms and Police Check processes as specified.

Temporary compliance will have an expiry date. It is important to note that this will be 6 months after your initial assessment date by NSW Health and not necessarily 6 months after you were deemed temporary compliant. Irrespective, within this period, you must complete your Hepatitis B vaccine regimen to gain full compliance.

Hepatitis B vaccine regimen

To meet the full Hepatitis B requirements, you must include evidence of (at least) age-appropriate Hepatitis B vaccine doses (i.e., infant 4 x doses [3 x infant doses may also be accepted]; adolescent (11-15yrs) 2 x doses; adults (16+yrs) 3 x doses) PLUS serology (a blood test) proving immunity.

The following table defines the acceptable minimum timeframes between adult Hepatitis B doses (as extrapolated from the Australian Immunisation Handbook).


Day Zero / Month 0

Day 28 /
Month 1

Day 56 / Month 2

Day 84 / Month 3

Day 112 / Month 4

Day 140 / Month 5

Option 1

Dose 1

Dose 2



Dose 3


Option 2

Dose 1


Dose 2


Dose 3


NB: Accelerated Hepatitis B dosage regimes that are shorter than the above timeframes will not be accepted by NSW Health.

A Hepatitis B Vaccination Declaration form is available if you do not have evidence of your vaccinations. Section A of the Hepatitis B Vaccination Declaration form should be completed and signed. NSW Health staff will complete Section B (there is no need to have an independent assessor complete section B).

Non-responders to hepatitis B vaccine are recommended to receive further doses and serological testing.

A non-responder is a person who:

  • is not infected with hepatitis B virus,
  • has a documented history of an age-appropriate course of hepatitis B vaccine,
  • has a current level of antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) of <10 mIU per mL (4-8 weeks after a booster dose). 

People who do not respond to the age appropriate vaccination course, and in whom chronic hepatitis B virus infection has been excluded, should be offered further doses.

People can receive a single booster dose (for adults this will be a 4th dose) of vaccine. Serological testing should be performed at least 4 weeks after this booster dose to confirm non-responder status. 

People who are non-responders after receiving the booster should be tested for hepatitis B virus infection. If negative, they are recommended to receive 2 more doses of hepatitis B vaccine 1 month apart. The person should be re-tested via serology for anti-HBs levels at least 4 weeks after the last dose. Full details can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

NSW Health will advise of appropriate protocols for students who are deemed persistent non-responders. 

2. Evidence of immunity

Some vaccinations require a serology report (blood test) to confirm your immunity (e.g., for Hepatitis B, a serology must be provided). A serology report will only be accepted if the serology test was performed at least 28 days after your last age-appropriate dose of a vaccine.

For other vaccinations (e.g., MMR, Varicella), if you have proof of the required doses, a serology report is not required. However, if your GP documents any serology results on your Vaccination Record Card as proof of immunity / vaccination (i.e., Hepatitis B, MMR, Varicella or TB), you must also provide a copy of these serology report/s as evidence, irrespective of the number of vaccine doses you have recorded and received. If in doubt, if you have a serology report, include it with your evidence.

3. NSW Health documentation

Download each of the following NSW Health forms from the HETI Website and answer ALL questions. You must personally sign each document as a “typed” electronic signature will not be accepted by NSW Health. NB: The Blood Borne Virus (BBV) form is only for Medical students:

  • Code of Conduct Agreement for Students – NB: You should read & familiarise yourself with the policy document listed on this form
  • Student Undertaking / Declaration – NB: You should read & familiarise yourself with the policy document listed on this form, then appropriately answer Question 2, which requires either A or B to be acknowledged (depending on your circumstances).
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Assessment Tool – NB: In additional to your personal details, this form has 3 sections. Please complete ALL questions in each section. If you have ever had a positive TB skin test (TST) or a blood test (IGRA or QuantiFERON TB Gold, please provide a copy of these reports with your form). After review, NSW Health will advise if additional screening is required.
  • Blood Borne Virus Declaration – NB: This form is Medical Students only. Medical Students must sign this form as part of their evidence. Serology reports are not required.

4. Police Check documentation

All students (both local and international) must provide a valid Australian National Police Certificate (NPC). A valid NPC is one that is:

  • Less than five (5) years old if it has been purchased through an Australian State or Territory Police Force.
  • Less than three (3) months old when it is presented to NSW Health if it has been purchased through an Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited body. After 3 months, these ACIC checks will no longer be valid.
  • Less than two (2) months old when it is presented to NSW Health if it has been purchased through the Australian Federal Police (AFP). 

NSW Police or other state based police service check is preferred as these are automatically valid for five (5) years. If you are planning to do a health placement within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), it is recommended that you specifically obtain your NPC through either the NSW Police or the Australian Federal Police (and not a listed ACIC accredited body) as ACT Health have slightly different requirements.

NOTE: Once verified by NSW Health, all NPC’s are valid for five (5) years from their purchase/assessment date. NPC’s must remain valid for the duration of your program.

Disclosable Outcomes

If your NPC contains any disclosable outcomes (i.e., a charge or conviction etc.), you must independently apply for a Risk Assessment. The application process is detailed on the HETI Website and you will need the assistance of your placement coordinator. You can contact your placement team

International Students

If you are an international student, you must also provide either:

  • An Overseas Police Check (OPC) from your home country (and / or any country you have resided in since turning 18 years of age) OR
  • A signed and witnessed Overseas Student Statutory Declaration form, as found on the HETI Website. NB: this Statutory Declaration can only be completed after arriving in NSW as it must be witnessed by an authorised person as detailed on the form.

NOTE: Providing suitable police check documentation can be complex. To assist, HETI have provided some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) on their website.

5. Proof of student identity

A copy of your UOW student ID card must also be provided as part of your documentation (UOW ID Cards are only available after you have enrolled at UOW).

6. Check that you have everything

Use this quick checklist to self-assess your readiness for NSW Health to verify you as being compliant (or temporary compliant).

  • Evidence of your vaccinations (e.g., Immunisation History Statement or a completed Vaccination Record Card for Health Care Workers and Students or other evidence.
  • Evidence of your immunity status (i.e., copies of all relevant serology reports)
  • Signed copies of the required NSW Health Documentation
    1. Code of Conduct Agreement
    2. Student Undertaking / Declaration
    3. Tuberculosis (TB) Assessment Tool
    4. Blood Borne Virus (BBV) declaration – Medical students only
  • Police Check documentation – Your Australian National Police Certificate, and for International students, an Overseas Police Check OR a signed Statutory Declaration form.
  • UOW student ID card

7. Upload your evidence to SONIA

SONIA is the UOW Student Placement System. SONIA is an online portal for all things related to placements, it is also where you must upload your evidence.

After enrolling at UOW you will be provided with an email address and login specific to UOW. You will also be granted access to SONIA. Detailed instruction on how to upload your evidence can be found in the How to upload “check” evidence and how to navigate the Check Tab within SONIA guide (PDF). The process is very easy, simply:

  1. Login to SONIA
  2. Navigate to the Checks tab
  3. Upload your evidence to the appropriate check, ensuring your evidence is a PDF file no greater in size than 5 MB (NB: JPEG, PNG, DOCX and HEIC files can NOT BE ACCEPTED)

After you have uploaded your evidence, it will be checked for completeness by the UOW Verification Team. If additional evidence OR corrections are required, you will be notified of the same via both an email to your UOW email address and via the information link on the SONIA Checks tab. It is important that you follow up on these requests as soon as possible so that your evidence can be sent as a package to NSW Health for verification.

NOTE: Your documentation package can only be sent to NSW Health for verification once we have received at least the minimum vaccination requirements and ALL required Health documentation, including police check information.

Further information can be found from the FAQ’s - NSW Health Student Compliance and verification (PDF: 173 KB) or from the UOW Verification Team

It remains mandatory for students placed within NSW Health facilities to be appropriately fitted for P2 or N95 masks or respirators prior to attendance; this also applies to most private facilities.

Masks must be worn whenever a patient under airborne precautions is being treated or if aerosol generating procedures are anticipated. Whilst masks may not be required if you are placed in a lower risk area, you must still be fit tested and ready to don (i.e. put on) a mask should circumstance change. You may be refused entry to your placement facility if you have not been fit tested prior. 

What is mask fit testing, and how often should I be tested?

Mask Fit testing determines which mask is right for you. The right mask will appropriately seal around your mouth and nose, preventing you from being exposed to airborne particles within the environment. 

Fit testing (or retesting) must occur at least every 12 months. Retesting should be conducted within that time if there has been a significant change to your facial characteristics or a change to the availability of a previously fitted mask. Testing may involve several different masks, and the correct mask for you may be different to that of your peers. It may also be different to what you were tested for previously.

Who can conduct testing?

UOW is the primary fit testing organisation for UOW students. However, many other organisations, including public and private health facilities as well as WHS organisations, can conduct testing. At UOW, testing is conducted from various campuses and is currently provided free of charge.

If within the last 12 months, you have been fit tested elsewhere (e.g. your work, or on a previous placement), you may not need to be retested straight away. You must share your test results with UOW. We will update your student profile within the NSW Health system to advise NSW Health of your status.

How do I book a mask fitting appointment?

To ensure timely access to mask fitting appointments, priority is given to those students with a pending placement; bookings are therefore by invitation only. Please contact your placement coordination team who will liaise with the UOW Verification Team to coordinate appointment times. You will then be given instruction on how to access the booking system within Sonia.

What else do I need to know about mask fitting?

Before attending a mask fit test appointment, you must meet the following criteria:

  • NO FACIAL HAIR* - You must be cleanly shaven for fit testing; facial hair (even stubble) may compromise the seal of the mask.
  • LONG HAIR - Bring a hair elastic or similar, to keep your hair off your neck.
  • NOT CONSUMED FOOD or DRINK within 30 minutes prior to the test (this includes chewing gum and coffee).
  • NOT SMOKED within 30 minutes prior to the test.
  • WEAR any corrective glasses (every day / reading glasses). These must be worn on your test to ensure they do not interfere with the mask seal OR that the mask does not interfere with your vision.

*Exceptions can be made if you have facial hair for religious or cultural observance purposes or due to a documented medical condition. Whilst UOW is unable to perform these tests locally, we will liaise with ISLHD to facilitate specialist assessment. Please contact the UOW Verification team for more details. 


In order to be allocated a social work placement, all students are required to:

  • Complete the NSW Health Student Compliance Requirements
  • Submit to UOW a NSW Working with children check (can be for paid or volunteer work)
  • Submit to UOW an Australian National Police Certificate (NPC).  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 and must be valid for the duration of your placement/s.  
  • 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.
  • Submit to UOW a Student Field Application form and Placement Acknowledgement Form (this 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 requirements 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