Health and human services and social work

Roles in health and human services and social work support individuals and groups in the community who are facing a range of challenges. You’ll need a high degree of empathy, good organisational skills and the ability to advocate for others.

Health and human services consulting

Working closely with government and not-for-profit clients, you’ll use your passion for social policy to manage and administer projects.

Your future role

Graduates working in this area help with project work being undertaken for government and not-for-profit clients. These roles are recruited as part of the regular graduate intakes, and opportunities can be limited. Duties include:

  • preparing tender documents for government projects
  • undertaking literature reviews and research
  • consulting on client policies
  • supporting the set-up and logistics of public forums and focus groups
  • developing online surveys
  • supporting senior project managers
  • reading and processing public submissions
  • preparing reports to government/not-for-profit clients.

Skills and experience

The skills and experience that will help get you started in this role include:

  • a strong track record/interest/passion for social policy – e.g. can demonstrate volunteer experience in social policy areas
  • social awareness and interest in issues and public policies affecting the community
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • mature approach and a broad understanding of the world
  • high-level written skills
  • analytical and research skills (quantitative data skills are useful)
  • self-starter and motivator
  • good team player – comfortable working collaboratively
  • high standard of personal accountability
  • a commercial business acumen
  • flexibility and adaptability.

Qualifications and requirements

Candidates are sought from a wide range of discipline backgrounds, including psychology, health sciences, public policy and law.

Employers

Possible employers include the large professional services firms, which offer a broad range of consulting services.

Aged care worker

Aged care is a large and expanding sector. People who work in this area support elderly members of the community to live in a variety of settings, including their own homes, retirement villages, hostels, nursing homes or crisis housing. They often deal with age-related issues such as disability, illness, Alzheimer’s disease and depression/isolation.

Your future role

People in this area work in a variety of settings and undertake a range of tasks and activities, including:

  • case management
  • planning, coordinating and implementing agreed plans for individuals and their carers
  • providing support, guidance and advice to individuals, their carers, other family members and other nominated representatives
  • liaising with agencies to coordinate services for individuals
  • identifying and reporting on service gaps and lack of access by particular minority groups
  • liaising with Aged Care Assessment Services, the Department of Health – Ageing and Aged Care, and other key departments and organisations
  • conducting joint home visits and assessments with staff
  • completing all documentation regarding assessment, plans and service provision for clients
  • maintaining up-to-date data and records and complying with all policies and procedures.

Skills and experience

The skills and experience that will help get you started in this role include:

  • understanding and commitment to person-centred practices
  • demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse groups
  • demonstrated ability to work autonomously with a high degree of initiative
  • excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.

Qualifications and requirements

For this role you'll need qualifications and requirements that include:

  • undergraduate qualifications in psychology, social work or a related field
  • Certificate IV in Community Services Work or Diploma in Community Services Work
  • Certificate III/IV in Aged Care
  • counselling course or undergraduate units in counselling, including HPY210
  • experience volunteering with a community organisation
  • Police Check
  • first aid certificate and CPR.

Employers

Employers in this area are typically not-for-profit organisations, community-based agencies or local government. Examples include large not-for-profits such as St Vincent de Paul or smaller issue-specific groups. A wide variety of jobs can be found through Aged Care Jobs and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Disability support worker

Support services for people with disabilities (both physical and intellectual) operate in a range of areas, including employment, accommodation, life skills and respite. Disability support workers promote, facilitate and advocate for the rights and interests of people living with disabilities.

Your future role

As a disability support worker, you may work with people with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries or with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy or paraplegia/quadriplegia. Your tasks may include:

  • providing information, support and referrals to clients
  • undertaking client assessments and developing client care plans
  • maintaining accurate case files and notes
  • delivering training and promoting awareness, sensitivity and knowledge across a range of issues
  • liaising with community groups and service providers
  • developing/coordinating community education strategies to raise awareness for people with disabilities and their families.

Skills and experience

Depending on the type of disability and on the type of role, jobs in this field may require a range of skills, including:

  • skills in working with people with a wide range of disabilities
  • knowledge of issues relating to people with disabilities
  • awareness of programs and services within the community for those with disabilities
  • ability to work from an empowerment model
  • familiarity with policy and legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • an understanding of the home and community care system
  • knowledge and understanding of quality assurance and occupational health and safety regulations
  • good team-working skills, including the ability to problem-solve collaboratively
  • excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • project management skills.

Qualifications and requirements

For this role you'll need qualifications and requirements that include:

  • undergraduate qualifications in psychology, social work or a related field
  • Certificate IV in Community Services Work or Diploma in Community Services Work
  • Certificate III or IV in Disability
  • counselling course or undergraduate units in counselling, including HPY210
  • experience volunteering with a community organisation
  • Working with Children Check, Police Check and first aid certificate.

Employers

Employers in this area are typically not-for-profit organisations, community-based agencies or local government. Examples include:

Drug and alcohol workers

Drug and alcohol workers provide assessment, support and intervention to clients with alcohol and drug issues, and implement health promotion and community intervention programs.

Your future role

As an alcohol and drug worker, your tasks may include:

  • supporting clients who experience difficulties with alcohol and/or drugs
  • providing alcohol and/or other drug withdrawal services
  • working with clients who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • providing emergency response intervention
  • providing needle exchange services
  • helping implement health promotion, community intervention and education programs on drug and alcohol awareness
  • identifying and helping children and young people at risk of harm
  • providing information and support on health, wellbeing and parenting
  • providing emergency response to individuals at risk of self-harm or suicide
  • acting as an advocate on behalf of clients
  • evaluating and preparing reports requesting funding for programs and new projects
  • arranging for clients to be referred to other specialist professionals or support workers.

Skills and experience

The skills and experience that will help get you started in this role include:

  • strong interpersonal, advocacy and negotiation skills
  • ability to assess clients' needs, and to design and implement treatment plans
  • creativity to address issues and challenges that are faced by clients
  • demonstrated in-depth understanding of drug and alcohol use and interrelated social, family and individual issues.

Qualifications and requirements

For this role you'll need qualifications and requirements that include:

  • undergraduate qualifications in psychology, social work or a related field
  • Certificate IV in Community Services Work or Diploma in Community Services Work
  • Certificate IV in Drugs and Alcohol
  • counselling course or undergraduate units in counselling, including HPY210
  • experience volunteering with a community organisation
  • Working with Children Check, Police Check and first aid certificate.

Employers

Employers could include community-based services, referral services, telephone or online counselling services, larger not-for-profits, community health services and private clinics such as: