Social Work program gets professional endorsement

Published 29 September 2008

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A new degree program in social work at the University of New England has received official endorsement from the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).

At its most recent meeting, the AASW Board of Directors granted provisional accreditation of the program which, coordinated by UNE’s Dr Myfanwy Maple (pictured here), will begin next year.

In a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, the President of the AASW Board, Mr Bob Lonne, says: “The Board notes the consultants’ commendation of Dr Maple and the University of New England development team for delivering a comprehensive Bachelor of Social Work program with a regional focus.”

Professor Pettigrew said the endorsement by the AASW was a tribute to Dr Maple and her interdisciplinary team at UNE, to the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of The Professions, Professor Victor Minichiello, and to the region’s community agencies and social workers, who had given such “tremendous support” to the program.

He said the commendation of the program’s “comprehensive” nature, along with its “regional focus”, was confirmation of the University’s success in designing courses – including those in nursing, medicine and criminology – applicable to employment anywhere in the world, while specifically addressing workforce shortages in rural and regional Australia.

UNE’s Bachelor of Social Work program will be eligible for full accreditation by the AASW after the graduation of the first cohort of students in 2012.

The consultants’ report to the Board refers to the “readiness both within the University and within the community for a UNE Bachelor of Social Work program”.

“Integral to the development phase,” the report says, “has been the engagement of local social work practitioners who have had considerable input into the detail of the program, and curriculum principles and sequence. There is evidence of a wide range of social work practitioners in central and northern NSW committed to UNE social work conceptualisation and to the integration of social work practice and education.”

“The curriculum has deliberately been designed to be student-focused and flexible,” it continues. “The combination of on-campus and online allows for skill and knowledge development in both face-to-face and distance modes. In both modes students will be encouraged to build on their own life experiences, and to be reflective and critical while becoming independent and creative.”