Frequently asked questions

We understand that embarking on a career change or considering partnership with our program may raise various questions.
Below you will find answers to common and frequently asked questions about the program.
If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for here, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated team for personalised assistance.

Who is eligible to apply for Switch to Social Work?

You are eligible to apply if you:

  • have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than social work
  • have completed at least one year, or equivalent, of full-time study in social science and behavioural sciences
  • have the right to live, work and study in Australia
  • pass an International Police Check and a Working with Children Check
  • do not currently work in a senior practitioner role in child and family services.

To find more information about the program’s eligibility criteria and how to apply, please visit the Switch to Social Work website

How do I apply for Switch to Social Work?

Applications open in September and will close on 31 October 2023. Applications are submitted online and consist of:

  • an application form
  • a written letter of intent
  • psychometric testing (which you will do online)
  • response to provided questions.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application in early December 2023.
The full-time two-year program begins in February 2024 and ends December 2025.

What are the key dates for Switch to Social Work?

Great question! Here are the key dates that you should note if you are interested in making the Switch to Social Work:

Date (week of)Action
1 September 2023Applications open
31 October 2023Applications close
11 December 2023Letters of offers sent to successful applicants
15 December 2023Acceptance of offer response due
18 December 2023Enrolment at La Trobe University
February 2024Switch to Social Work program begins

How long is the program, and can it be completed part-time?

Switch to Social Work will begin in February 2024, with participants expected to graduate in December 2025.
The program is an intensive, full-time pathway to a career in child and family services. Participants will receive significant financial, academic and professional support, but are expected to be able to participate in the work and Master of Social Work (Child and Family Practice) academic commitments of the program on a full-time basis which is approximately 38 hours a week. Independent study will be untaken on top of this commitment. There is no part-time option available. You should consider the time-commitment of this program before applying.

How is Switch to Social Work different from current Master of Social Work programs?

Switch to Social Work was designed with career-changers in mind. It combines study with practical experience that gives graduates the confidence to move straight into rewarding roles supporting children and families.
The program offers significant supports to help with the financial pressures of studying including

  • full tuition fee scholarship worth about $50,000
  • a cost-of-living allowance in the first year (equal to the national minimum wage in Australia – $882.80 per week before tax or $41,491.60 per year)
  • industry-standard wage in the second year (at Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services (SCHADS) Industry Award 3.2 – $69,195.88 per year).

Participants get to experience work in the child and family sector. This is above and beyond what is offered in other master’s programs. This includes work-experience and placements and paid full-time employment in the second year of study. This practical, hands-on experience works with your academic learning to ensure that you graduate job ready.
Participants will also have access to academic support, professional and leadership opportunities and an alumni program designed to further support you as you begin your new career.
For more information about the program, including the financial supports, work placements, participant supports and more, please download our participant handbook.

What does the practical component of the Switch to Social Work involve?

Over the two-year program, participants will complete two five-hundred-hour field placements with different organisations. In addition, they will undertake an internship. Both the placements and internship give participants the chance to apply their academic knowledge in real-world settings, with the expert guidance of La Trobe University. The internship takes place over two years:

Unpaid internship in the first year
The Switch to Social Work program goes beyond the standard Master of Social Work requirements by providing additional industry experience. In the first year, you will be matched with a community services organisation, to learn about work in the children and family sector. You will do an internship with your host organisation one day a week. This early exposure will give you insights into industry practices and valuable networking opportunities within the field.

Paid employment in the second year
In your second year you will undertake a twelve-month employment contract with your host organisation at the equivalent of an industry-standard wage at Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services (SCHADS) Industry Award 3.2.
You will work at least 2 days, alongside your Master of Social Work (Child and Family Practice) academic commitments. This experience will help you develop your skills, impart practical knowledge, and empower you to make a significant contribution in the workplace.

Will I be employed in both years of the program?

No, the structure of the Switch to Social Work program involves different arrangements for each year of the internship. Here’s what you can expect:

First Year
In the first year of the program, you will not be employed. However, you will:

  • work as an unpaid intern one day per week with a host organisation
  • undertake your academic studies
  • complete a five-hundred-hour field placement in the child and family services industry.

To support this intensive commitment, you will receive a cost-of-living allowance to support you while you are gaining practical experience in a real industry workplace and meeting all academic requirements.

Second year
You will be employed by your host organisation for twelve months. You will be paid an equivalent rate as a SCHADS 3.2 for your work during this period. This employment opportunity will not only provide you with valuable on-the-job experience but also ease the financial pressure that you may face in undertaking this program. You will also complete your second five-hundred-hour field placement in the child and family services industry.
The Switch to Social Work program is designed to offer a balanced combination of practical learning experiences and employment opportunities, ensuring you gain comprehensive skills and experience in preparation for future employment in the child and family services sector.

How much financial support will I get in year one and in year two?

As a Switch to Social Work intern you will receive financial support and exciting employment opportunities tailored across the 2 years of the program.

Year one Switch to Social Work Intern
During your first year you will receive a weekly cost-of-living allowance. This allowance is equivalent to the national minimum wage (as of 30 June 2023), which is $882.80 per week before tax, totalling $41,491.60 for 47 weeks. The cost-of-living allowance starts at the beginning of the academic year and helps support you financially while you gain valuable practical experience through work experience, field placements and academic studies.

Year two Switch to Social Work Intern
In your second year you will have even more exciting prospects. You will be offered twelve months of full-time employment at the SCHADS 3.2 level within your matched community services host organisation. The salary for this level is $69,195.88 per year. This employment opportunity will allow you to work on more complex issues such as intensive family support, counselling, or leading practitioner positions. Additionally, your host organisation, now your employer, will work with you, La Trobe University and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare to help you successfully complete your course studies.
This combination of financial support and employment opportunities in the Switch to Social Work program is designed to give you a well-rounded learning experience. It will prepare you with both practical skills and hands-on experience for a successful career in the field of social work supporting the child and family services sector.

Are there any additional costs to the program?

The Switch to Social Work program provides:

  • full tuition fee scholarship
  • a cost-of-living allowance in the first year
  • industry-standard wage in the second year.

However, the course does not cover any additional fees that may be incurred through the academic portion of the course such as La Trobe University’s Student Services and Amenities Fee. You will also be expected to cover all materials and other costs like:

  • textbooks
  • stationery
  • use of a laptop
  • immunisations
  • a name badge
  • travel related costs.

For information concerning related additional fees please see La Trobe University’s website.

Will I have to relocate to Melbourne for the duration of the program?

The Switch to Social Work program is offered throughout metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria. There are field placement and employment opportunities across Victoria, and the academic component is offered by La Trobe University at all campuses in Victoria including Melbourne (Bundoora), Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, and Mildura. The academic program is offered in a mix of face to face and online sessions.

Can I work part-time while participating in the program?

As this program is a trial involving a combined full-time commitment to study and work, participants will be expected to fully commit to the program, including participation in work experience, field placements, employment, and academic studies.
We encourage participants to reflect on how committing to the program full-time may impact their current responsibilities, including work and family commitments. Please carefully consider whether you can fully commit to the program.

What supports are there for participants from diverse backgrounds?

Switch to Social Work is designed to provide a pathway to a career in child and family services to all applicants, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse, disability or neurodiversity, LGBTQIA+ and lived experience backgrounds. We offer flexible support to applicants who may require reasonable adjustments throughout the application and program duration.
To learn more, please check out our website, or contact our team.

How do I request reasonable adjustments that I require?

Ensuring equal opportunities and accessibility for all applicants is import to us. To provide the best support possible, we request that you share details with our team about the reasonable adjustments you require. This will enable us to assess and tailor to your individual needs. Information disclosed will be treated in confidence and will not influence assessment of applications.

What happens if I need to withdraw from the program?

The Switch to Social Work program is a trial program. This means that unfortunately, you are not able to defer your place on the program. If you are unable to continue in the program, you will no longer have access to the program’s financial or professional developmental supports. You may be able to transition into a standard Master of Social Work course at La Trobe University. For more information, please contact our team outlining your personal circumstances.

What career opportunities will be available to graduates of the Switch to Social Work program?

Social work offers a diverse range of career opportunities, each with its own set of responsibilities and focus areas.
These can broadly be broken down into:

  • Family services:
    In this area, you will provide essential support and intervention to families and parents to build family capacity to keep children safe and thriving, as well as strengthening family resilience to deal with difficulties and hardship. This includes offering counselling, early intervention services, and assistance with refugee settlement
  • Care services:
    This area involves work directly with children and young people, who cannot live safely at home, and are residing in a home-based or residential care setting. As part of this work, you may also work directly with carers and families. This area is also responsible for delivering services to young people transitioning from care to independent living.
  • Child protection services:
    In these roles, you will be responsible for assessing and investigating reports of harm, making applications to the Children’s Court, managing case planning for children, and referring children and families to services that assist in providing the ongoing safety and wellbeing of children

For more information and to see examples of careers in the child and family services sector, visit the Switch to Social Work website.
Participants will graduate with practical work experience, including one year of paid internship at a child and family services organisation. Participants will have completed focused academic study on contemporary best practices in the industry. These are all designed to help graduates succeed in their new careers.

Will there be opportunities for networking and building industry connections?

Switch to Social Work recognises the importance of networking and building industry connections for your professional growth and future career prospects. Throughout the program, you will have ample opportunities to engage with professionals, practitioners and experts in the child and family services sector, and peer support through structured communities of practice. Additional activities may include networking events, workshops, and guest speaker sessions, where you can interact with industry leaders and gain valuable insights into the field.

Is there an alumni network or ongoing support after graduation from Switch to Social Work?

Switch to Social Work graduates will become part of a vibrant and supportive alumni community. The alumni network provides a platform for you to stay connected with fellow professionals, mentors, and industry partners. This network offers valuable opportunities for continued learning, professional development, and networking.
Additionally, Switch to Social Work offers support for you as you transition into your professional career. This may include career guidance and continued assistance from the program coordinators and industry partners. The aim is to support you in your journey to make a lasting impact in the child and family services sector.

How many places are on offer in Switch to Social Work?

Switch to Social Work offers 67 places throughout Victoria. Online applications open in September 2023. For more information and to apply, check out the Switch to Social Work website.

Who are the program partners?

Switch to Social Work is an innovative partnership between the Victorian Government, the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, the peak industry body for child and family service organisations in Victoria. The academic component of the program will be delivered by La Trobe University. A broad network of community service organisations will provide placements and employment to you throughout the program.

How can I contact you?

For more information, visit our website or contact us here.
Phone: (03) 9614 1577