Families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds can experience another layer of complexity and vulnerability when engaging with our state’s child protection system. The need to support these communities and see them receive the same level of guidance as others has always been the underlying reason graduate Thao Hoang (MSW ’21) embarked on a career in social work, or better put, a fight for social justice.
Thao can still remember her first social work lecture at Flinders and instantly feeling a spark of inspiration to do good for the community, human rights, and the underlying ideology of social work practice.
“Everything just fit in so naturally, to the point that I had to ask myself why I hadn’t done it earlier,” Thao said.
“For an international student who will be studying overseas, away from family like myself, an inclusive and hospitable environment is one of the crucial factors in choosing an academic institution and Flinders had ticked that box.
“Dr Michele Jarldorn particularly left a strong impression on me, probably because of her special interest in international students and their lived experience, as well as students who are the first in their family to attend tertiary education – it all clicked with me!”
It was through Thao’s final university placement that she gained her current employment with the Department for Child Protection (DCP) SA and has been working there ever since.
As a social worker in the Multicultural Services team, Thao supports vulnerable CALD communities and families both at individual and systemic levels. Her team work closely with internal and external bodies and those involved in the care of children, in order to advocate for the additional needs of CALD children and families.
“The diversity of topics covered during my time at Flinders has actually come in very handy for my current role with DCP,” Thao said.
“Sometimes while studying, you can have a feeling of, ‘Why am I studying this?’ but it all comes together when you’re out in the professional world.”
Last month, Thao was awarded a 2022 Premier’s Excellence Award under the Individual category of Excellence in Service Delivery. The awards themselves acknowledge South Australian public sector employees and teams who demonstrate excellence in their work. Thao was recognised for her Social work in the Vietnamese community within the Department of Child Protection. Hear more from Thao about the Award here.
This follows on from last year being nominated and awarded at the 2022 DCP Recognition Awards, under the Partnering with Carers category due to Thao’s intensive work within the Vietnamese community in South Australia.
Thanks to her strong connections with the community and her valuable guidance, children have been able to maintain their cultural links and thrive within their local community.
Thao was also recognised for providing valuable advice to staff to help better understand the Vietnamese community, family functioning, and cultural child-rearing practices. Some of the difficulties encountered that she helps provide understanding on include language barriers, social isolation, racism and discrimination, and settlement challenges.
“I want to further strengthen and enhance my skills and knowledge in this particular field of working with CALD communities,” Thao explained.
“Then I might try my luck with a tutoring role at a university as I want to support other students, especially those from a similar background, to thrive in their chosen field.
“I still keep in touch with my classmates after graduating. We have formed a close community since university to share any employment opportunities or updates in the field.”