Dept of Education and Training
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The purpose of this fellowship was to develop a nationwide collaborative strategy to improve the economic sustainability and geographic availability of niche social profession courses. The niche courses in social professions examined in this program meet specialist social needs in disability services, social gerontology, and youth work. Specialist courses in social professions have limited availability across the Australian university sector and availability has declined over the last decade. This is despite a continuing need for specialist graduates, as attested by the relevant professional bodies, and by policy implementation reviews in the areas where graduates from these courses might provide stronger leadership. To improve learning opportunities for students and achieve collaboration, the program leader worked with colleagues and professional bodies nationally to analyse trend data and develop a working plan for each field of education. The program has raised awareness about the need for urgent system-wide action to support niche social professions and has developed collaborative network(s) to strengthen cross-institutional relationships between staff offering courses in niche social professions. The program has strengthened relationships with relevant state and federal professional bodies in each field and has established a network of colleagues to help resolve these challenges. In addition, the fellowship has proposed changes to support a nationwide collaborative strategy that will enable institutions to offer viable programs for the niche social professions. Dissemination has occurred to move beyond known interest groups, and staff from 16 universities and nine professional associations have been involved in discussions, consultations and planning for change. The issues and proposed strategies are outlined in this document. The working groups in each discipline will continue to collaborate to build momentum for change and to engage with colleagues at other universities to continue the work commenced by this fellowship. [Executive summary, ed]
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