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Social Work Field Placement

Field placement is a component in both Social Work Field Education subjects alongside workshops and academic assessment. Field placement is 500 hours in each subject for a total of 1,000 hours for the degree.

Generally, students are expected to work the full-time Award hours that are relevant for their placement agency. So, if you work 38 hour per week you will be on placement for approximately 14-15 weeks.

Days away from placement due to sickness, parental and carer responsibilities or any other circumstances that keep you away from placement do not count as placement time.

Find more about:

After enrolling in a field education subject, please access InPlace and check your personal information. If it needs updating, please do so in eStudent, as the information is drawn from there. Scroll down the page in InPlace and if you are enrolled, the subject code for the placement subject will be there. Below that are a number of questions to complete about your placement interest and considerations. Please respond to all questions. You will be contacted by a staff member from the WIL Placement Team to discuss placement options.

Students studying in Cairns and Townsville are highly discouraged from approaching local agencies or Social Workers to request a placement. The WIL Placement Team has a formal process of engaging with agencies due to the high number of students requiring placements.

External mode students studying in communities other than Cairns and Townsville may want to do some initial research about the local services and possibilities for placements. Please talk to the WIL Placement Team to develop the best strategy in approaching agencies about placement. The WIL Placement Team also has many contacts and networks across Australia of which they use to secure placements for students.

The role of the Field Education Unit is to provide teaching, research, curriculum design, and workshops on relevant Field Education theory to students, field educators and liaisons.

The unit provides support by:

  • Finding and matching student placement opportunities
  • Establishing that students meet agency and JCU requirements for placement, eg Bluecard pre-requisite subjects
  • Working with students to establish their skill development interests
  • Setting up a Liaison Person and Field Educator to confirm students have a liaison person and Field Educator that are qualified to supervise, support and assess placement
  • General Support through information and communication to the student and other stakeholders
  • Finalising student grades for Field Education subjects on recommendation from the liaison person
  • Negotiations with the agencies about placements are carried out on behalf of students by the WIL Placement Team with the support of the social work field education coordinator and field education lecturers.  The WIL Placement Team liaises with social welfare practitioners and their managers in order to establish a range of placement options.

Being able to undertake placement means students must be well prepared no matter what their current circumstances. Getting ready could simply start by listing all the points that you feel prevent you from undertaking a 500 hour placement.

We have listed below a couple of flexible options for addressing some challenges. Some of them you are able to negotiate yourself, others need to be discussed with the Field Education Unit to check your eligibility.

Have you talked to family and friends about your study commitments?

Family and friends can be a great support during this time, which in most cases can be financial drought as it is nearly impossible to hold down a paid job while completing a full-time placement.

Support can start by helping out with dinner cooking, sharing the grocery shopping, looking after children to save childcare costs, for example. What ideas can you come up with?

Have you spoken with your current employer?

Your employer might be able to support you by providing shifts that lay outside of placement hours. Just be mindful that you do not overload yourself with placement and work commitments.

Some students accumulate their paid annual leave for undertaking placement, others negotiate unpaid leave with their employers.

Have you heard about Recognition of Prior Learning?

Students with extensive work experience in the social welfare field may have this work experience recognised as prior learning. Full Credit for a Field Education subject in Social Work is only possible for the first placement. We offer detailed information about the requirements and processes for gaining RPL for the first placement.

Part-time placements

We understand that we all have different situations and circumstances, and so as a team we do support students that can only complete their placement in a part time capacity. A case can be made to the Field education team for entering into a part time placement.

However, these two criteria should be addressed:

  • Placements should not be less than three days a week.
  • A 2-week full-time block must be completed within the placement as negotiated.

Students are encouraged to think about the consequences of completing their placement part-time on future study and personal life.

Placements while employed

Depending on your circumstances you may be able to undertake your placement with your current employer. We have prepared a Work-based Placement Guide (PDF, 663 KB) that provides detailed information on the requirements and expectations, including also, a contract which requires signing by yourself, the Field Education coordinator and your employer.