Three ways to make the most of your community services degree

Choosing the right university and course is important. The University of Melbourne offers a wide range of community services courses, with unique opportunities to progress your career.

At 12 per cent, the community services sector has the second highest number of apprentices and trainees in Australia. But according to the 2019 Australian Jobs Report, the number of people with tertiary qualifications is growing rapidly. Now more than ever, you need to stand out.

The University of Melbourne – Australia’s best in 2019 – may be in the Melbourne CBD, but professionals from across the country study through its community services program. Here are three ways anyone can make the most of further study in community and social services.

Work and study simultaneously – from anywhere in Australia

“One of the mandates of our courses being fully online is to give complete access and not disadvantage practitioners who are working in remote communities where there is a need for mental health services,” says Paul Badcock, senior lecturer at the Centre for Youth Mental Health.

For community and social services to reach all people in need, community services education must also be available to everyone. The University of Melbourne’s wide-ranging courses, from mental health to social work to creativity in health, is delivered in classrooms and online, with many courses designed to be flexible enough for people working already.

“We would encourage people to do online degrees because the community services sector changes quite rapidly,” adds Dr Ralph Hampson, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Melbourne. “All of our online subjects really have a focus on how you can apply what you’ve learnt in practice. The subjects are focused on the latest evidence and thinking, but that's also related to how you might use it in your workplace.”

Learn from the country’s leading non-profit organisations

Thanks to its partnerships with principal organisations, the University of Melbourne offers the latest knowledge and practises. Community services students have the opportunities to learn from and work with some of the world’s brightest minds, and go on to clinical placements with leading organisations.

Orygen is a non-profit, global-leading research and education organisation that pioneers new, positive approaches to the prevention and treatment of mental disorders in young people. Its experts have helped design the Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Youth Mental Health, Australia’s only graduate program dedicated to youth mental health. As the only course of its kind, the field’s top experts and educators have been able to come together to focus all their attentions on this cohort.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation has also designed the Specialist Certificate in Creativity and Health, exploring the proven impacts that art and performance can have on physical and mental health.

Access the latest technologies changing the industry

Staying abreast of new policy, research and technology is vital to progressing a community services career.

“The reality is that we are seeing a shift in our society with people accessing online services,” says Dr Hampson. “Technologies are a growth area for social work. Things like Zoom (an online meeting platform used widely throughout the University) – it’s a game changer for working with people in rural and remote areas.”

Social media has also changed the nature of community services. Beyond apps and online chat services, social media not only provides more support than ever, it’s also adding more employment and volunteer opportunities. For example, in the last decade thousands of grassroots support groups have emerged on Facebook ­– some public, others moderated by counsellors. One local success story is The Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria (ADAVIC). Founded in 1994, it now reaches over 250,000 people on Facebook and works with more professionals and volunteers than ever before.

Explore our community services courses