Verity-Erin Barber always had a thought in the back of her mind that she wanted a career where she could help people.
“Every job I’ve had in retail and hospitality I’ve been interacting with people but I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and I thought the Bachelor of Social Work at James Cook University (JCU) would give me the skills, knowledge and tools to be able to do so.”
Coming from a remote town in Western Australia, Verity-Erin appreciates the focus JCU places on educating for rural and remote environments and the encouragement they give you to take up placements in regional communities.
“I really enjoyed my first placement at The Women’s Centre in Townsville. The people I worked with were passionate and had so much knowledge under their belt. It was amazing to soak up some of their enthusiasm and experience.”
JCU’s Bachelor of Social Work also offers students the opportunity to travel to India where they will join students at the De Paul Institute of Science and Technology to gain valuable cross-cultural experience.
“We’re going to Kerala to work alongside some of the students there, join in their everyday life and learn about what they do. It’s going to be really interesting because it’s such a different way of life over there and it will help give me experience and awareness to work in Australia’s multicultural communities.”
After taking a few years off between secondary school and university, Verity-Erin admits she found it nerve-wracking to come back to study.
“I didn’t remember how to write an essay or anything like that but I found everyone so supportive. The Library has referencing guides and during Orientation Week there are workshops you can attend which explain things. The lecturers are supportive as well and if you’re not doing something right or if you’re confused, you can ask them.”
Verity-Erin is confident she will find work after graduation because she believes there will always be a need for people with her skills.
“I think there’s always going to be a need for social workers and the fact that it’s so varied means you should be able to find your niche to have passion in your work.
“I’m interested in going into something like child safety, mental health, or working with women who experience domestic violence, but you can work with drug and alcohol rehabilitation, palliative care, counselling – it’s endless.”