This article provides an overview and analysis of social work education and professional standards in Australia. The professional education and practice standards are set and monitored by a single, professional body, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). In Australia, there is no legislation protecting the title of social worker, and there is limited government involvement in regulating educational standards and professional practice. In this article, I outline the characteristics of the educational and professional standards for social workers set by the AASW. I will explain the Australian regulatory environment for health and human service professions and discuss how this contributes to conditions in which the AASW plays a central role in the regulation of social work education and practice standards in Australia. I will outline the opportunities and challenges posed by the highly deregulated environment and the consequent central role of the AASW in standard setting and monitoring. The article concludes with a discussion of the strategies currently being pursued via the AASW to achieve government authorized regulation of social workers.
Toby Weismiller and Tracy Whitaker
A profession’s ability to identify and predict its workforce capacity depends largely upon its understanding of labor-market trends and emerging service-delivery systems. Concerns about the adequacy of the future supply of the social work workforce are being driven by a number of factors, including trends in social work education and demographic shifts in the country. The stability and continuity of a social work workforce depends on the profession’s ability to attract new workers, agencies’ abilities to retain their staffs, and the larger society’s investment in this pool of workers and the clients they serve.
Supervision of students and practitioners has been important to social work since its earliest evolution as a recognized profession. Central to the process is the idea of one professional with more knowledge, skill, and experience guiding the practice and development of another with less. The four content areas of supervision usually include direct practice, professional impact, job management, and continued learning. There are a number of supervision models, and most emphasize a positive supervisor–supervisee working relationship, a parallel process, and the importance of cultural competency. The emergence of Evidence-Based Practices and Trauma-Informed Practices has also influenced supervision. The contemporary context of social work supervision offers both opportunities and challenges to clinical supervision.
Surveys have always been a popular social work research method. They are particularly applicable for portraying population characteristics on the basis of a sample. Two key methodological issues influencing the value of any survey are the representativeness of its respondents and the reliability and validity of its measures. Surveys can be administered by mail, online, or in face-to-face or telephone interviews. Each modality has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the research, the nature of the research question, and feasibility considerations.
Julia H. Littell
Systematic reviews summarize a body of empirical evidence to address important questions for practice and social policy. Widely used to compile evidence about intervention effects in the helping professions, systematic reviews can also be used to assess rates, trends, associations, and variations on many topics. Credible reviews are based on the science of research synthesis, which provides the theoretical and empirical foundations that undergird efforts to minimize bias and error at each step in the review process to ensure that systematic reviews are comprehensive and their conclusions are accurate. Methods for the synthesis of quantitative studies are well developed. Meta-analysis, a set of statistical procedures, is often used in quantitative reviews, but meta-analysis is only one part of the systematic review process; other steps are needed to limit bias and error. Methods for systematic reviews of qualitative research are under development, as are strategies to combine quantitative and qualitative data in reviews.
Michael S. Kelly
Task-centered practice is a social work technology designed to help clients and practitioners collaborate on specific, measurable, and achievable goals. It is designed to be brief (typically 8–12 sessions), and can be used with individuals, couples, families, and groups in a wide variety of social work practice contexts. With nearly 40 years of practice and research arguing for its effectiveness, task-centered practice can rightfully claim to be one of social work's original “evidence-based practices,” though the relative paucity of research on its effectiveness in this decade suggests that the approach itself may have become increasingly integrated into other brief social work technologies.
Paula S. Nurius and Susan Kemp
This entry provides an overview of the nature of transdisciplinary and translational priorities in the context of changing forms of research and assessments of the relationship of research to societal impact. It first describes shifts away from single disciplinary to more integrative disciplinary approaches to science and discusses emerging forms of integrative research, distinguishing and illustrating multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches. It then turns to describing the social forces behind the acceleration of science into service, illustrating what are referred to as translational gaps and efforts to bridge them. Within social work, methods attentive to adaptation for diverse settings, organizational dissemination and implementation, and community partnership models have become prominent. The entry concludes with attention to the development of an educational pipeline that prepares professionals as well as researchers for capable, confident participation into this environment of transdisciplinary and translational approaches.