Farrer has been extremely fortunate to benefit from a project pioneered by the University of New England (UNE) that’s welcoming social workers back to school.

More than 20 public primary, secondary and central schools are now hosting UNE social work students for placements in the final years of their studies. It’s giving the uni students valuable work experience and the schools much-needed support within their wellbeing teams.

Mrs Susan Durham came to Farrer on placement in the final year of her studies in 2016 and as a result of this initiative we were delighted to offer Susan a permanent position as Farrer’s Social Worker.  “I hadn’t envisaged a job in education, but the school created a position for a student support officer to be filled by a social worker and I applied,” she said.

SWiS project officer Scott Gartshore said what started as a program for rural and remote schools in north-western NSW has grown to include schools in the Central West, Hunter New England and even western and south-western Sydney. University students spend 500 hours in the schools, working in partnership with school counsellors and wellbeing staff to meet what he says is a growing need.

“Our social work students relieve some of the workload from the school’s wellbeing staff and enable more students to seek help,” Scott said. “This is leading to improved relationships within the school, and within families, and therefore better school engagement.”

“In both schools, the UNE students have been very supportive of our wellbeing program, working one-on-one with students or in small groups to re-engage them with learning,” Margaret said.  “They very soon become the go-to person. In my previous school, there was no such thing as a social worker, not even in the town. SWiS provided a service we couldn’t access unless we employed a social worker ourselves, and that’s exactly what we did following the success of SWiS. It’s working well at Eagle Vale, too. I think we will take two social worker students this year.”

Susan Durham – Social Worker