QUT Centre for Justice members, Christine Morley, Joanne Clarke, Jennifer Mays and Jennie Briese have been part of a team researching the current financial burden on students required to complete long, and mostly unpaid, social work placements. Their research has been published in the social sciences Q1 journal, The International Journal of Social Work Education, titled, “This unpaid placement makes you poor:” Australian social work students’ experiences of the financial burden of field education. (previously blogged 03/05/2023)
This publication reports on the nationwide study of university social work students that found many fall into poverty and debt to complete the 1000 unpaid practical placement in the field that is needed to gain accreditation.
Professor Christine Morley, Head of QUT School of Social Work, who was a Chief Investigator on the study said the current model of field education was unsustainable for both social work students and the profession.
She called for a national summit to consider the plight of social work students undertaking long unpaid field work, in the context of the social work profession’s social justice mandate, which occurred on February 6 at Western Sydney University.
This research, and the impact on students has been published in The Conversation on 23 May 2023, and was re-published in The Canberra Times.
“Our survey of 372 social work students in four universities found that more than 66 per cent of them had felt the financial strain of the unpaid work placement with 41 per cent having to give up or significantly reduce their paid employment.
Professor Morley said the accreditation requirement left many students having to choose between their education and their survival and personal wellbeing.
“Our profession must consider increased provision for work-based placements, recognition of prior learning, paid placements or internships and financial support for students undertaking unpaid placements to live up to our remit of combatting wealth and wellbeing inequality and avoiding increased financial burdens on students.”
A previous study by Professor Christine Morley and Dr Lisa Hodge on the same topic was also published in The Academic on 24 May 2023.
Professor Morley undertook a number of media interviews last week:
ABC News 27May 2023
ABC Radio Brisbane 27 May 2023
Central Western Daily 24 May 2023
2CC Canberra 23 May 2023