Lengthy unpaid work integrated learning (WIL) in Social Work: Exploring the gendered impacts on student wellbeing

Lisa Hodge, Shelley Turner, Nicole Oke

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


A plethora of unpaid and paid work-integrated learning (WIL) initiatives are currently being implemented across Australian universities in response to increasing pressure to support students to develop ‘job-readiness’ in their transition from university to professional practice. All courses at Victoria University (VU) must now include aspects of WIL in the curriculum. The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) mandates the completion of at least 1,000 hours of WIL or field placement for qualification. Yet recent Australian research has demonstrated that students experience significant levels of financial and other stress during lengthy, unpaid placements. Moreover, these studies indicate that the majority of students negatively impacted are female, from low socio-economic backgrounds, have additional responsibilities such as employment or caring for children, and have the most difficulty meeting such educational
requirements. Notably, VU is characterised by students from low socio-economic and disadvantaged backgrounds, with the majority of social work students being female and from the Western Region of Melbourne. In this paper, we present preliminary findings and their potential implications for the AASW and other Australian social work programs. This study builds on existing research by examining the gendered impacts on student wellbeing of social work student
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAustralian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research Symposium 2018: Disruptive Social Work - Flinders University, Bedford Park, Australia
Duration: 20 Sept 201821 Sept 2018


ConferenceAustralian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research Symposium 2018
Abbreviated titleANZSWWER 2018 Symposium
CityBedford Park
Internet address


  • Social work education
  • field education
  • Gender Equity
  • work integrated learning

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