Stacey (L) and Sankini (R)

Educating Tomorrow’s Social Workers

OC Connections has welcomed two Social Work students from Monash University to it’s ranks for two-and-a-half months.

Stacey (L) and Sankini (R) are in their first year of a two-year program at Monash and are required to undertake a 14-week placement during this time.  The aim of the placement is to observe, practise and critically reflect on the role of social work.  It provides students the opportunity to work in a  professional setting to develop and demonstrate their skills.

Vicki Hayes, General Manager Engagement and Partnerships, believes the placement program is a great opportunity for OCC to be actively involved in the education and training of future professionals who need to develop skills and understanding of working with people with intellectual disability.

“This is a great opportunity for our participants to contribute to the training and skills of future professionals in the field,” says Vicki.

Both students have settled in well, taking on specific projects for OCC.  Sankini’s main task is to research and develop a tool to assist staff in further implementing the OC Co-Achieve model, while Stacey will be developing a resource tool for support coordination to enable referrals to registered NDIS service providers.  Both students will also assist in the support coordination process and work with Monash Council on the Neighbourhood House celebration project.

Sankini completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sri Lanka with a view to undertake further study in Social Work to make a difference in people’s lives through practical solutions, policy changes and assisting them to live a fulfilling life.  Her plan is to work in the mental health sector once she graduates, gaining experience in Australia before returning to Sri Lanka to implement her learning there.  In addition to gaining first hand knowledge of working in an agency such as OCC, Sankini is also hoping to refine her communication skills, professional relationships and to learn to work collaboratively with other professionals.

“It has been truly wonderful and within just 3 weeks I have learnt so much. The staff at OCC have been very welcoming and accommodating. I have undertaken shadowing with some groups and the staff has been very generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise with me. I have observed the way in which the staff interact with the participants and how the staff always makes sure to prioritise the needs of the participants. I am quite fortunate to have been placed with OCC, where I think I can develop and refine my skills and knowledge.” Sankini

Stacey holds a Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology from the University of Melbourne and is hoping to use this opportunity to build on the skills and experiences to transition from university to real life practice.  “I would specifically like to improve my skills around goal identification, service referrals and communication with non-verbal participants,” she says.  She is also passionate about working in mental health or with those who have experienced domestic violence in Australia, helping to empower the disadvantaged.

“I have been amazed by how friendly and supportive the senior colleagues are at OCC.  Everyone has demonstrated absolute open-mindedness and non-judgemental attitude with our requests and the occasional silly questions.  I can already foresee myself crying on my last day!” Stacey.


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