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Buen Vivir: Shared Future for Transformative Change

To celebrate World Social Work Day 2024 (19 March) we asked Phoebe Phillips from Communicare’s Family Support Network (FSN) team to provide some insights as to why she chose a career in this field and what it takes to make a difference in the lives of the people we work alongside.

Social workers are passionate people, agents of change, hope-holders, and impeccable problem solvers.

This year’s theme is ‘Buen Vivir: Shared Future for Transformative Change’, which is rooted in the Global Agenda and emphasises the need for social workers to adopt innovative, community-led approaches that are grounded in indigenous wisdom and harmonious coexistence with nature.

The theme of #WSWD2024 serves as a timely reminder of the transformative role social workers play in driving positive change and fostering communities that thrive on mutual respect and sustainability.

Why did you decide to become a social worker?

I’ve always loved the thought of working directly with people and communities, so a standard office job was never going to work for me! I love having a career where I can be out of the office for a home-visit, school meeting or…anything really, our role is so diverse! Every day is different, and work is anything but boring.

What led you to go down this path?

I originally started studying Anthropology and Sociology before switching over to Social Work, because there was such a hands-on element to the work. I initially wanted to work with older people, but found myself working with children, young people, and families while on my first student placement at the FSN.

It turned out I loved the FSN so much I returned to volunteer after finishing my placement, which really allowed me to develop my social work skills in a supportive environment. I found such a passion for working with children and families that I completed my second placement at Child Protection before graduating, which was certainly an eye-opening experience.

After completing your studies, what was your first role?

After finishing my final placement at the Department of Communities, I returned to Communicare, where my first role as a social worker is now my current role as an Intensive Case Manager at the FSN.

Our team supports vulnerable families for up to 12 months following their involvement with Child Protection. We aim to develop strong relationships with our families, to build safety and capacity. This includes a focus on education, health, and referrals to other organisations, to ensure children stay safely at home with their parents or guardians.

What were the challenges you initially faced?

People often don’t require the support of a social worker when things are going well, and we will often see individuals and families at their most vulnerable.

Building trust and strong working relationships with our families can be a long and delicate process, especially given we become involved immediately after Child Protection and trust in workers may be low. However, if we can build positive connections and trust, we often see beautiful moments of growth and positive change, which makes all the challenges along the way worth it.

What type of person do you need to be to do this work?

I believe that having the ability to build strong relationships is key to being a social worker, so good communication skills are important. Social workers often need to have incredibly difficult and honest conversations and the ability to listen deeply without judgement.

Social workers are passionate people, agents of change, hope-holders, and impeccable problem solvers. We come to expect the unexpected, learn on the go, and can adjust the way we work, depending on the needs of the individual.

Why should we be celebrating World Social Work Day?

Social workers not only have the ability to support people to make small changes today, but can help drive long-lasting and meaningful change by increasing capacity, confidence, and self-determination.

Social workers are also often vocal advocates for reform in areas that touch many of us in some way, like family domestic violence and abuse, justice, mental health, disability, health, social policy, and child protection.

Can you provide an example of where your work has made a real difference?

If I’m honest, it’s impossible to pick one. I am so honoured to be able to work with such amazing people every day, and while the job does have its challenging days, I also witness so much joy.

I have had the absolute privilege of watching parents reconnecting with their children, women and children starting the journey of recovery after family violence and have built strong relationships with members of the Stolen Generations. I can honestly say that I look forward coming in to work every day, because I love what I do.

If you are a social worker and would like to join our team, please email Madeline at to find out more.


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