University of Tasmania
155074 - Australian social work students experiences.pdf (520.82 kB)

'This unpaid placement makes you poor': Australian social work students' experiences of the financial burden of field education

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:00 authored by Morley, C, Hodge, L, Clarke, J, McIntyre, H, Mays, J, Briese, J, Krystyna KosteckiKrystyna Kostecki
While there is growing evidence about the financial burden of completing long, compulsory (mostly unpaid) placements for social work students, this Australian study contemporizes existing research by exploring this issue in the current context (2020–2022), during which time we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, the related economic problems, and modified ASWEAS standards. The data is drawn from 372 undergraduate and Masters (qualifying) students across four universities in different states and explores their experiences of financial stress associated with current placement arrangements; their sources of income and employment arrangements; and how they navigated balancing paid work around placement, or how they supported themselves if they did not work alongside placement. The study evidences no improvement in the situation facing social work students in Australia despite modest ASWEAS modifications that offered limited flexibility around placement requirements during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings contribute to an expanding body of research that indicates the current model of field education is unsustainable for both social work students and the profession and confirms that urgent changes are required for the social work profession to consider our student population in its social justice mandate.


Publication title

Social Work Education






School of Social Sciences



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright (2023) The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education; Expanding knowledge in education

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