Ask any social worker what drew them to their career and it’s likely you’ll hear about their passion for working towards a socially just society and a drive to alleviate disadvantage. But mostly you’ll be told it’s all about making a difference — which leads to a kind of job satisfaction that can be hard to come by.
April Sheppeard, a 24-year-old single mum in her second year of study, has her eye on a career in child protection — for three main reasons.
Hard work, big rewards
While social work is never easy and sometimes good results only come at the end of a long battle, having the power to truly make a difference in someone’s life is what drives many to this profession. For April, her determined pursuit of a social work degree comes from her own experience with children’s services.
As a ward of the state through her younger years, April endured a series of traumatic experiences, moving through foster homes and refuges for most of her life. The gaps in the social services system, which she feels let her down, inspired April to pursue a career in child protection.
“I know from personal experience that the department of Family and Community Services can sometimes make very poor judgments about child placements,” she said. “I want to be there for young people and make a difference.”
It never ends (in a good way)
Building a comprehensive knowledge of social work theories and practices is a lifelong pursuit and your learning and growth won’t come to a halt once you cross the graduation stage. Instead, April said there was always more to learn and further skills and abilities to develop, which is a great incentive.
It’s your move
While April is on track to secure a role in child protection, that doesn’t mean the students sitting next to her in class are following the same path. Social work is a broad degree with many career options.
Social work graduates are qualified to pursue jobs in family work, youth and child welfare services, medical and health services, disability services, psychiatric and general mental health, community services, aged care, income support, mediation, academia, and research. Working as a social work practitioner who is making a difference is the ideal outcome for our graduates, but how you put this into practice is entirely up to you.
April Sheppeard is completing a Bachelor of Social Work at ACU.