Twenty-four social work professionals who have completed The University of Western Australia's first Graduate Certificates in Child Protection Practice will graduate tomorrow.
Their successful completion of this new specialist postgraduate course is an important contribution to the development of child protection services in the State, according to Dr Brenda Clare, a UWA lecturer who developed the course.
"The program is the outcome of a successful academic and professional partnership between the University's Discipline of Social Work and Social Policy and the (now) Department for Child Protection as this agency has restructured its services to children and families in recognition of the need to address an acknowledged and highly publicised gap in professional knowledge and expertise," Dr Clare said.
"An important goal of the program is to help the Department introduce a culture that recognises and rewards professional initiative, and is able to do so because of the knowledge and expertise of senior staff. The Department's commitment to this program is indicated by the decision to offer 19 full scholarships to staff in key leadership positions. This made it possible for staff from regional and remote areas to participate."
It is the only such program offered in WA and the second offered nationally and it is underpinned by two key principles: the central recognition of children as full citizens as asserted in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the importance of inclusive, relation-based interventions.
Students were equipped to respond effectively to complex family situations, to deal with moral and ethical dilemmas, and were encouraged to work effectively as members of a professional learning team.
They examined issues such as working with reluctant and involuntary clients, statutory practice when parents have a mental illness or are abusing drugs and alcohol, and working to achieve long-term positive outcomes for children and families beyond a forensic focus on immediate risk and ‘child rescue'.
UWA will co-host a symposium with the Department for Child Protection on Thursday, at UWA's University Club, at which 10 of the 24 graduates will present papers. They will be available to talk to the media from 12.30 - 1pm.