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Towards Sustainability in Australian Social Work Field Education

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The educational framework of Australian social work field education has remained static over the past few decades. Emerging challenges are creating a compelling case for change. These include increasing demand for placements, declining capacity of organisations to provide placement requirements, reduction in practitioners’ incentives and capacity to support student placements and to facilitate a work integrated learning context, and an interrelated web of policies and regulations that constrain adaptation to these changes. In a critical exploration of multiple levels of regulation and policy contexts, we argue that conventional approaches to social work field education are not sustainable given significant changes to the funding arrangements for universities and within the welfare service system. To futureproof integrative learning in social work, we advocate transformation of educational culture, policies, and design toward sustainability.

IMPLICATIONS



Supervised placements are designed to integrate practice and academic learning but their future use as the single means for achieving this integration will be unsustainable.


Drawing on an ecological orientation enables social work educators to position sustainability as a key consideration and response to current constraints in higher education and the field.


Focusing on sustainability across policy, practice, and regulation contexts has potential to generate transformative change that enhances our effectiveness in futureproofing the design of integrative learning in social work.
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Keywords: Educational Design; Student Placement; Sustainability; Transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Learning and Teaching Unit, Chancellery, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 2: Faculty of Education and Arts, Federation University, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia 3: College of Arts, Society, and Education, James Cook University, Douglas, Queensland, Australia

Publication date: July 3, 2018

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