Some of the Social Work students who helped in the distribution of care packages to the Cyclone Winston victims in 2016.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Bachelor of Arts, Social Work major has been accredited by the Australian Community Works Association (ACWA).
ACWA aims to advance the profession of community work and set, strengthen and provide the educational, professional and ethical standards essential for exemplary community work practice.
In a letter to the University, Sha Cordingley, the Chief Executive Officer of ACWA, stated that the accredited programme status recognises that USP meets ACWA requirements, in that:
the qualifications and experience of teaching staff is appropriate for the subjects they teach;
the course is taught over at least three (3) academic years of full time study or equivalent;
fieldwork placements are assessed as part of the course and span a minimum of 400 hours in two (2) separate placements settings;
study resources are adequate for student needs; and
USP agrees to participate in a review of the accredited course should one be deemed necessary.
Dr James Johnson, Head of School of Social Sciences said the ACWA accreditation places the School of Social Sciences on a higher threshold of academic performance and professional, social and community work practice in Fiji and the Pacific.
Dr Johnson mentioned that one of the main national and Pacific challenges facing the social and community work profession is the establishment of the minimum standards of professional practice for practitioners.
With the accreditation in place, he added, the programme and School are now in place as the social and community work education provider to facilitate the discussion between the Government of Fiji, the Fiji Association of Social and Community Workers and other relevant stakeholders on the minimum standards and the establishment of a Fiji Social and Community Workers Registration Board.
“The accreditation status can be used for admission into ACWA and graduates of ACWA programmes also have better employment outcomes in Australia and will likely be the case now in Fiji and the Pacific,” Dr Johnson said.
USP is the only ACWA accredited social and community work education provider at the degree (level 7) level in Fiji and the Pacific.
The Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) also has the Certificate III in Community Development accredited by ACWA making USP the lead education provider in this field.
The first graduates of Bachelor of Arts Social Work major were in 2009 and since then 61 people have graduated with this qualification. Currently there are 88 students registered across the three (3) years of study for the programme.
Dr Johnson’s message to new and continuing students in Social Work is that, “the ACWA accreditation assures you of a high standard of education and practice in social and community work.”
“We work to ensure that upon graduation you will be work-ready and our programme gets you involved in the workplace and community from your very first course providing you an exciting and dynamic educational experience,” Dr Johnson said.
The Head of School thanked Dr Bruce Yeates, Discipline Coordinator of Social Work and his team including Ms Kesaia Vasutoga and Dr Jenny Tonsing, adding that they worked very hard to make this a reality.
Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) said that she was delighted with the first accredited programme in the School of Social Sciences and commended the commitment of the Social Work team and the leadership of Dr Johnson towards this achievement.
Dr Kedrayate added that there are plans for more accreditation of FALE programmes as outlined in the Faculty’s accreditation plan which is alighted to the University’s Master Accreditation Plan.
The accreditation process for Bachelor of Arts Major in Social Work began in early 2015 when the Programme Advisory endorsed the beginning of the application process.
Programme changes had to be made in 2016 to ensure that all accreditation requirements were met.
There were continuous references of application documents to the Social Work programme at Western Sydney University to ensure adequate benchmarking of the USP programme.
Offered through the School of Social Sciences, the Bachelor of Arts Social Work Major was instituted in 2006 with the first intake of 20 students in Semester 1 2007.
The Social Work Programme was developed with the assistance and guidance of the now School of Social Work at Massey University through a five (5) year MOU.
The programme has continued to work with the Massey School of Social Work though renewed MOUs and now also with the Western Sydney University, Social Work Programme.
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