Workplace integrated learning (Field education) is an important component of social work education in Australia, and elsewhere. Employers are seeking social work graduates who are work ready with some level of on-the-job experience. At the same time, field education is also an integral part of the social work curriculum as it provides students with the opportunity to consolidate what they have learnt in the classroom to the working environment.
Students undertake field placements in social work and human service agencies and settings. Students learn to practice social work under the supervision and guidance of a qualified social worker and with additional support from ECU. The field education arrangements are undertaken in the form of placements as informed by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) guidelines and requirements for field education.
The requirements for field education are a minimum of 980 hours in a placement environment. This is arranged as a 14-week full-time placement in Year 3 and another 14-week full-time placement in Year 4 of the curriculum. Part-time placements may be undertaken subject to negotiation and agreement, but a minimum of three-days per week is normally expected of a part-time placement. Part-time placements increase the duration of placement, as a minimum of 490 hours must be completed in each placement period.
Students must complete a range of pre-requisite studies before proceeding to placement.
The AASW makes allowances for students to undertake placement in their workplace, subject to meeting specific requirements. Applications to undertake a field placement in a student’s workplace will be assessed by the Field Education team on a case-by-case basis.
Credit, or part thereof, for the placement in Year 3 may be possible on the basis of recognition of prior work experience or the successful completion of social work field placement in other social work degree programs undertaken prior to entry into the Social Work program at ECU.