Meet our students


'In Conversation' / Master of Social work

Two former and one current student sit down for an open and honest conversation about social work, life at Monash and their careers.

Episode 1 /
Why Social Work?
Episode 2 /
Studying Social Work
Episode 3 /
A Career in Social Work

Lena

Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Social Worker with Turning Point

Master of Social Work

When I decided to study Social Work, I did it because I was driven by my passion to make a real impact on individuals’ lives and communities. It was my desire to learn how to cover peoples’ needs, guarantee their wellbeing, and support them to achieve their best potential. I wanted to make this my lifelong profession.

I am glad I chose Monash to accomplish my dream because it provided the best opportunities to achieve my goals. I was taught by excellent qualified professionals that were able to support me during my learning process in an interactive and supportive manner. The curriculum of this course was extremely rich, it helped me to explore the different social work fields of practice from which I could work to support people. Additionally, the assignment style was very engaging and useful at the time of finding a job. These included a diverse range of tasks that challenged my thinking and helped me to enhance my skills through constant feedback.

The work component of this course also gave me the confidence to be able to excel and find my dream job. The opportunity to put into practice my skills in a guided space was pivotal to enhance my career opportunities in Australia.


Jacinta

Master of Social Work

I completed a Masters of Social Work in 2020 and am now employed by an NGO in Community Aged Care.  I was able to secure a position through contacts I made via my placement.  Studying at Monash prepared me for placement and, consequently, full time employment, through teaching leadership and advocacy skills.  Having a combination of practical based skills such as counselling techniques, genograms and biopsychosoical assessments, underpinned by a strong understanding of theories consolidated my learning and gave me confidence to use these skills in the workplace.  Staff encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and always supported me to do this, making themselves available to answer questions or direct me when I was unsure of the path to take.  Dedicating a unit to preparing for placement helps to identify skills employers are looking for and assists in focusing on working with my strengths to gain employment.  Having a variety of electives gave a deeper knowledge of intricacies of particular fields of practice which enabled a choice of the best area to explore the area I was most passionate about.


Bokyung (Angie)

NDIS Disability Support Case Manager

Master of Social Work

Social Work is a noble profession, which empowers individuals through various intervening approaches, including widening and reinforcing support networks.

Choosing Monash University to pursue my goal of understanding Australian social work, was one of the best decisions that I have made.

The Department of Social Work has assisted me in navigating my social work journey using well-designed curriculums that enabled me to explore different fields of practice, and gain in-depth understanding in those areas which aligned with my interest.

Skilled and knowledgeable lecturers have enriched my study experience at Monash by equipping me with both the theoretical and practical knowledge required for social work. Field education with supportive supervisors and staff members have also strengthened my skills and abilities needed to become a professional social worker.


Gang

Master of Social Work

I am originally from China and came to Australia in 1997 to study my MBA.  Over the last 20 years, I have followed a corporate career path but in 2019 I decided to make a sea change to social work. I feel that the values promoted by social work is more aligned with who I am and what I consider to be more meaningful at this point of my life.

I was driven to social work by my desire to understand and learn how to alleviate human sufferings for people, including myself. What I love about the course is the knowledge, insight, and skills that I can gain that enables me to work and interact with people in such a way that is the most meaningful to me personally.

It inspires me to see so many likeminded teachers and students who are passionate about social work and personal development.

My placement experiences have been highly rewarding, from both professional and personal perspectives.


Clare

Master of Social Work

Monash has a great reputation and when I looked at the course and what was available for me to study I was really excited.

The course is very practical and applied. We are always being encouraged to develop our counselling skills and the feedback when we do this has been great. There is a lot of focus on being able to practice social work, so I feel like I am being prepared very well for getting a job after I finish.

A highlight of the course so far has been being able to work face to face with actors to practice counselling skills, which has been fantastic. It was daunting at first, but such a valuable experience and I learned so much.

I am really looking forward to placement and am excited by the opportunity to get a feel for what social work is like outside of study.

Social work is an interesting and wide-ranging profession, and I am so pleased that I found this course. I am using my undergraduate study of psychology and counselling to complement what I am learning in Social Work, so I feel like I have found a great balance for all my areas of interest.


Zupinder

Master of Social Work

It was very important for me to enrol in a course which was accredited by AASW as I wanted to study the courses and placement types and hours which were recognised by AASW. Monash University’s course is an AASW accredited course. Monash University also sources placements for students so it was less pressure for me as I knew that I did not have to worry about finding placements for myself.

I had started working in case management roles before applying for MSW and after completing my undergraduate degree. Since, commencing the course, I feel better equipped in doing my case management role. Furthermore, I have understood the importance of reflective, critical practise and self-care by doing this course. I have learned appropriate counselling and social work skills which has made me better at my job and I enjoy my work more.

I completed my first placement working with COVID patients at Dandenong Hospital. I want to acknowledge that COVID-19 has been challenging for different people for different reasons, including myself. However, this experience was unique, and I was on placement when the last COVID-19 active person was cleared for discharge from Monash Health in COVID 19 and things were starting to get comparatively better. The work was fast paced, I learnt to complete biopsychosocial assessments and discuss sensitive topics with patients in the first meeting as there are some patients who are discharged very quickly and may not be seen twice. It also helped improve my assessment writing skills.

There have been a few challenges since the commencement of the course, including COVID-19 lockdown, working/studying from home, and managing work and study. Most importantly, the course itself focuses on self-care which is a part of social worker’s regime, even though it may be overlooked at times due to busy schedules. All of my tutors emphasised on the importance of self-care, they were approachable and offered practical supports and advice whenever I asked for it.

Personally, I have learnt more than I had expected for myself while doing this course and am really happy with course and university choice.


Siobhan

Master of Social Work

“I chose Monash because of the way the University presents itself, not only to students, but also to the wider community. I felt confident that Monash genuinely wants to attract students with a passion and progressive attitude to studying social work. Additionally and importantly, Monash takes an inclusive and flexible approach to part-time and off-campus study which meant I could continue working while studying my Masters.”

Since commencing the Master of Social Work, Siobhan has moved into a leadership role at work and feels that her course and the connection to Monash have already made a big difference in her career and skill development. “I have received feedback from professional connections that my practice in the field has strengthened significantly since I started my Masters. Each unit I have completed so far has enhanced a particular skill set and everything I have learnt has been relevant to becoming a professional and proficient social worker.”

Making the most out of every available opportunity, Siobhan applied for the Monash Global Discovery Program 2017 and successfully got in. Together with six other students from across faculties, she travelled to London to meet with international leaders to discuss new innovations, their pathways to success and what they believe it means to be a good leader. “This was a life changing experience and has hugely influenced my thinking not only about social work, but about what I can do as an individual.”


Nchimunya

Master of Social Work

I’m originally from Zambia and moved to Australia in 2011.  I studied media and public relations in my undergraduate degree but when it came to my master’s I wanted to do something different, something I loved and would reflect who I am and what my passion is.  I took a year off to really think about what I wanted to do and social work stood out.

All my life I’ve seen how disrespectfully women have been treated, and growing up in a society where it is seen ok to be abusive towards women affected me and made me want to be the voice of the voiceless.  I believe women and men should have equal rights and no one deserves to be treated with disrespect because of their gender.  Being a social worker will help me make a difference to society, as it starts with me.

Studying the Master of Social Work has made me more empathetic and I look at life differently to how I used to. The opportunity to do placement while studying has expanded my knowledge and helped me put theory into practice, preparing me for the future. I hope to eventually work with women and men that are victims of abuse.


Cam

Master of Social Work

I chose to study social work at Monash because of its reputation. We get 1,000 hours of supervised professional practice and receive national accreditation.

Each week we have experts from various professional fields across Victoria come to our lectures and share their real-life experiences, as well as some contemporary issues within the field.”

As part of the course, Cam is currently completing a placement with the prevention division at the Cancer Council Victoria, which focuses on reducing preventable cancers with an emphasis on high-risk populations. “I’ve gained experience with a number of programs such as Quit Victoria, PapScreen, SunSmart, as well as the Obesity Policy Coalition. This has given me a valuable insight into advocacy for evidence-based policy reform and educating the community about ways to reduce cancer risks as well as further understanding support available to cancer patients, their families, and to various diverse groups (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and LGBTIQ community).”


Penny

Penny

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (specialising in Social Work)

As an international social work student, I think culture is the most amazing thing I have experienced. Social work is a human science. All human beings live in cultural environments. To be a good social worker, you need to understand human behaviour in certain cultural environments. The most helpful thing for me when I first started the course was to identify myself first: analysing my experience of being a human being, analysing how family, cultural background and society contexts foster me, and how these things guide my behaviour. Identifying myself helps me lessen the confusion of studying social work in a unfamiliar social context, and helps me understand my strengthens and disadvantages of how I can serve the Australian society or how I can learn from Australian social work to serve the Chinese society.

As social work is an applied/practical science, all the theories and practical methods I learned give me a belief that I can achieve my dream of helping people and making society better step by step. And it is a wonderful exploration to apply the theories and methods into practices. During this exploration, it is amazing to perceive the uniqueness of individuals, and to explore the interacting network among human beings that interweave in different cultures and societies.


Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Master of Social Work

I decided to enrol in the course after working in the human services sector for a few years, and becoming frustrated about how systems within this sector operate. I had realised how important the role of a skilled advocate can be for disadvantaged members of the community, and wanted to develop the skills and knowledge to make a bigger contribution in this diverse sector.

The course is delivered by excellent academic staff, with a wealth of practice experience. Throughout the course, strong emphasis is placed on the ways in which the social work profession can support social justice and sustainable communities. After the challenging and intensive experience of completing the theoretical and practical components of course, I now feel equipped with the knowledge and confidence to pursue a career that I love, and that can positively affect others. I would encourage future students with a passion for people to consider this course.


Steven Roche

PhD

Having worked as a social work practitioner, and then later in a junior university-based research position, I wanted to pursue a PhD to investigate my own research interests, improve my skills and to continue a career in social work and policy research.  I chose Monash based on the reputation of my supervisors and their commitment to educating graduate research students, as well as their enthusiasm for my research topic.

My research is a case study of residential care and child protection in a provincial city of the Philippines. Residential care settings, also known as orphanages, are widespread across the Philippines, and form a major part of approaches to children and young people’s welfare and protection. However, the reasons for this type of care are largely unclear, as are their practices, characteristics and models. Utilising a case study methodology, my research incorporates interviews with 52 young people with experiences of living in residential care, and 29 policy and program actors with expertise on residential care and child protection in the Philippines.

My PhD has been a rewarding experience, particularly the challenge of conducting fieldwork overseas and engaging with diverse and interesting people. My advice to someone considering pursuing graduate research would be to focus on finding the most suitable supervisors for you, especially researchers with overlapping research interests and approaches to research.