What do social workers do?

Social workers help communities, families and individuals in many different ways. Find out here how to contact a social worker when you need support. It's also important to know what to expect when seeing a social worker.

What is a social worker?

Social workers help individuals, families and communities deal with challenges to their social, physical and mental wellbeing.

Social workers can be found in hospitals, community health centres, government departments, the court system and private practices. They provide professional support for issues such as family welfare, employment, mental health, violence, disabilities and drug abuse.

The main difference between social workers and psychologists is that psychologists usually help people with their personal mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and/or mental illness. Social workers, on the other hand, are more likely to work with a person in a holistic way to help change their environment or personal circumstances, in order to improve their situation. This might include organising safe accommodation, assisting intake into a drug rehabilitation centre or linking clients to financial help.

What do social workers do?

Social workers provide their clients with practical support, counselling, information and emotional support.

Social workers often see people who are facing some sort of crisis, such as family violence, homelessness or mental health issues. They can often help link you to other support services.

An Accredited Mental Health Social Worker (AMHSW) is a health professional who is specialised in assessment and treatment of mental health issues. Depending on the situation, sometimes seeing a social worker won’t cost you anything, and in other situations you can get a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions if referred by a GP.

How do I find a social worker?

  • You can see a social worker if you are in hospital/accessing health services.

  • The Australian Association of Social Workers’ Find a Social Worker directory can help you find a social worker in your area.

  • Call the Department of Human Services on 132 850 and ask to speak to a social worker.

  • Ask your school counsellor, a trusted teacher or your GP to help you get in contact with a social worker.

What can I do now?

  • Learn more about different types of mental health professionals.

  • Check out the Australian Association of Social Workers website to get more info on social workers.

  • If you want help now, check out calling a helpline.