How to become a Welfare Worker

Welfare workers work with individuals, families, groups and communities to improve quality of life by empowering, educating and supporting people and by helping them to change their social environment.

Personal requirements of a Welfare Worker

  • Able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people
  • Tolerance and an open mind
  • Good planning and organisational skills
  • Able to take initiative
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Able to deal with conflict in stressful situations
  • Commitment to human rights and social justice

Education & Training for a Welfare Worker

To become a welfare worker you usually have to complete a VET qualification in community services. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you complete a degree specialising in human services, community welfare, community development or a related discipline. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Welfare Worker

Welfare workers may perform the following tasks:

  • provide support and assistance to clients who experience difficulties such as marital problems, unemployment, illness or drug abuse
  • arrange for clients to be referred to appropriate specialists or community agencies
  • help clients with long-term problems to bring about self-directed change in their lives
  • assess risks and provide intensive short-term crisis counselling for victims of domestic violence or child abuse
  • help to establish or administer neighbourhood houses or community groups
  • evaluate data and write reports, including submissions requesting funding for continuing programs and new projects
  • act on behalf of clients who have a complaint against an organisation or government department
  • arrange and evaluate support services, such as Meals on Wheels delivery to elderly people living alone
  • recruit, train and coordinate volunteer staff
  • assist community groups to identify and implement strategies to deal with local issues.

Working conditions for a Welfare Worker

Welfare workers deal with situations which may involve emotional, social and financial difficulties. Welfare workers can work individually or as part of a team. They may work in an office, visit clients in their homes and attend evening community meetings.

Employment Opportunities for a Welfare Worker

Welfare workers are employed by state, territory and federal government departments; local councils; hospitals and health centres; unions; industry; non-government organisations; and community groups. Increasing numbers are self-employed in private practice or as consultants. Welfare workers may be employed as fieldworkers, project officers, program coordinators, community health workers, student or staff counsellors, or human services workers. Some welfare workers are employed in supervisory, administrative or policy-making roles. Demand for this occupation is largely influenced by government funding in the social welfare field.

Additional Information
To become a member of the Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA) you need to complete an approved degree or two-year diploma in community services work, human services community welfare, community development or a similar discipline that is approved by ACWA. Contact the association for further information and a current list of approved courses. You will need to undergo a Working with Children Check and a check for working with vulnerable people.
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