Publication Details

Camilleri, P., Kennedy, R. & Oxenberry, R. (1989). Australianising social welfare education: The development of a major sequence 'Australian Cultural Studies' in a new B.Soc.Sci. (Community Service). Welfare in Australia, 6 (1), 9-11.


Much of social welfare education in Australia is built upon the tried and tested knowledge bases developed within American and British approaches to social work and welfare provision. The experience of those two countries has dominated the theoretical frameworks for practice intervention and indeed, the analysis of social problems and societal responses to them. Australian experience has tended to play a supplementary role in that differences in context have altered or modified aspects of these overseas approaches, or some peculiar aspect of case experience has led to variations in response. The review and development of educational programs for social welfare work has raised questions about these traditional foundations. Australia, both in total and its regions, has unique characteristics in its history, geography, and political development and a clearer understanding of them appears to be emerging. The formulation and administration of welfare state provision now has a substantial history, as does the practice of various professional groups in aiming to assist people's capacities for social functioning and overcome social problems. This emergent culture of social provision is substantial and rich enough now to provide the grounding from which more specific theoretical propositions ought to be guiding social welfare practice. One of the impediments to this in the past has been the lack of a substantial body of literature and research in Australian practice. But this is changing, although, even the growth of Australian material still remains in danger of being swamped by the ever-increasing amount from overseas. Another impediment also has been the relatively small size of the social welfare and social work education sector. This too is changing and there are signs that the greater size of the sector could be mirrored by greater collaboration in future developments. One of the important components of social welfare education in Australia has been the two year courses leading to an Associate Diploma. In general, these developed around the early seventies in response to the need to qualify experienced welfare workers and provide a broader educational base than was catered for by in-service training. The circumstances of the eighties has seen considerable change in this area. Social welfare agencies now are not faced with dramatic growth or rapid expansion of activities. In general, no longer are they employing large numbers of unqualified people. At the same time, people have entered social welfare courses as a means of career change or for numbers of women, of a return to the work-force. Consequently, the nature of these courses has had to change to accommodate a different population. And a process of review and change has presented both the opportunity and the question about the fundamental character of an Australian social welfare course.