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Studying social work was "truly transformative" for Josephine

This article appears in: Changing careers, Community Services and Social Work
Social work student Josephine on Casuarina campus

In the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns in Melbourne, Josephine began contemplating a career change. A passion for social justice and the desire to help others led her to the rewarding and challenging field of social work.

With two young kids, Josephine didn’t think she would act on her impulse to change careers until they were a little older.

“I thought further study would be something I would do in later years, but like many others, the pandemic reminded me of the fragility of life and to look at my work and career differently. Having a second baby and being on maternity leave during the pandemic made me realise the value of family and being connected, as well as my priorities.”

“If I was going to be away from my kids for work, I wanted to do something meaningful with that time and connect with what I was doing while providing me with new challenges.”

With the support of her family, she seized the opportunity and started looking for postgraduate social work courses

Why CDU was the right choice

Josephine saw that CDU offered a Master of Social Work. 

“I knew from experience that CDU was a good fit for me because I was a mature-age student, and they were flexible in their online offerings, allowing me to work around my other life and family commitments.”

“They knew how to do online well because they firmly focused on online learning before it became necessary during COVID-19. While other universities were playing catch-up and trying to navigate a new online world, I knew CDU had been doing this well for a while.”

She felt it was important to consider a “unique university, down to earth, and progressive regarding diversity and inclusion”, noting CDU’s connection to First Nations peoples.

“I also knew I would have strong support with smaller class sizes because it was a smaller institution, meaning greater accessibility to the academic staff.”

“It was invaluable to me to have a rich mix of peers and educators from all walks of life, bringing their life experience and culture to the classroom,” she adds. 

“A truly transformative experience”

Social work student Josephine in the library at Casuarina campus

“When I look back at myself when I started my master’s, compared to where I am now, a lot has changed regarding my mindset about how society operates and how I interact as an individual."

Josephine learned to explore social work ideas and practices critically.

“It is valuable when unpacking and examining concepts like unconscious bias, understanding historical context through different cultural lenses, and developing empathetic connections for a path toward a more compassionate and equitable society.”

Social work also made Josephine a better parent, she says. 

“Studying social work has allowed me to connect more deeply with my children and listen to their needs when providing emotional support.” 

“It has also allowed me to live my values and to be a role model for my children, advocating more clearly with others, being open-minded, accepting and respecting others, and displaying good coping skills and the importance of self-care and setting healthy boundaries.”

“Studying social work has been a truly transformative experience for me.”

Placement to professional

As part of the Master of Social Work, Josephine and her fellow students must undergo two placements to add practical, real-world skills to their academic learning. 

Josephine chose to work with young people through her Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHT) placement, which sparked a potential career path. 

“Social work provides a dynamic career path with many employment opportunities.”

“After my first placement in a child and adolescent mental health setting, if I work in direct practice, I would like to continue in the mental health space, specifically working with young people,” she says.

Josephine’s future career may also be found in research or developing social policy. 

“I could impact legislation and regulation by working with lawmakers and government bodies to influence policy development, including drafting legislation, proposing amendments, and participating in public consultations. I am very interested in green social work and ecocentric practice, and I am open to alternative and holistic approaches to practice that integrate social justice, ecological responsibility, and Indigenous perspectives.”

With her final placement ahead of her, “which will undoubtedly create more ideas for my future career”, Josephine’s future in social work is equally blurred and bright. 

“CDU is equipping me with practical skills and real-world experience in my field to prepare me for success wherever my journey takes me.”

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