There’s no better way to prepare yourself for a career in social work than with practical industry experience. At Flinders, students complete 1000 hours of placement when completing either their Bachelor or Master of Social Work degrees. This means our students complete more than 133 days of placement before entering the workforce, giving them the confidence to succeed. Students are given the opportunity to implement knowledge and skills acquired in their degrees and begin to create professional connections in the industry. With plenty of support from Flinders before, during and after placement, students are given the tools to kick start their careers before they finish their degree.
Sri Lankan international student Chamali Priyangika Dilrukshi is studying a Master of Social Work and has been on placement with Southern Cross Care at Philip Kennedy Centre Residential Care (PKC) working with ageing populations. Her work is currently focused on preserving and improving residents’ overall wellbeing and building rapport with them. This has been done by providing emotional support through one-on-one interviews, grief and loss support and conducting assessments to meet the person-centred health and wellbeing outcomes.
Chamali is loving the opportunity to work in an environment full of interesting, gracious individuals with a wealth of life experience.
“Working with the population cohort of ‘ageing’ is an absolutely amazing experience”, says Chamali. “You feel love and joy all around. Engaging residents with the lifestyle activities is one of the fun factors and you’re filled with laughter. You connect with a generation who have tonnes of different life experiences and who are eager to share things with you that you have never heard from anyone else.”
Theories learned throughout Chamali’s degree have been pivotal in her success on placement so far.
“Person-centered theory is one of the social work theories I learned during my Master’s degree, which I have utilised in my current placement”, says Chamali. “Despite all the residents belonging to the ‘ageing’ population, I always acknowledge their uniqueness and value their different needs. We can never assume what someone else needs. Thus, choice, dignity, respect, rights and self-determination are central to my practice.”
In one instance, Chamali applied this theory on placement resulting in an immediate breakthrough with a client.
“A resident at PKC did not want to be involved in any lifestyle activities because of feelings of incompatibility. The person-centred approach led me to discover this particular resident’s great interest in reading novels, and through active intervention, we were able to create a small ‘book club’ where the resident could spend meaningful time.
Chamali encourages students to use placements as a development opportunity to build on what they learn in the classroom and prepare them for the industry.
“My advice is don’t miss any opportunity and make your own”, says Chamali. “Placement for me is not just an educational topic but a great opportunity to explore new knowledge and skills for my professional development as an emerging social worker. My Master’s degree equipped me with the necessary knowledge I needed to work in the real world and placement gave me a taste of that real working experience.”
Want to learn more about studying Social Work at Flinders? Click here for more information.