Life On The Job

Life on the Job

Stacey Anderson, Social Worker

Read this article "From Forklift Driver to Social Work" as reported in the Catholic Voice

Stacey Anderson

As a teenager, Stacey Anderson knew she wanted to help people. Social work seemed like a dream to her, a way to make a real difference in people’s lives.

But growing up in Brisbane suburb Logan Central, one of the lowest socio-economic areas for indigenous Australians, her chances of completing enough education to do this were low.

As one of 10 children being raised by a single mother, Ms Anderson had to drop out of school before finishing year 12 to get a job and help take care of her family.

She worked as a forklift driver at a factory in Brisbane for more than 16 years before deciding to move to Canberra in 2000. She said the change was mainly so she could have a career for herself.

“If I had stayed in Brisbane, I wouldn’t have had as many opportunities as I do now,” Ms Anderson said. “I moved [to Canberra] because I had a goal. I didn’t want to just work in a factory; I wanted to really achieve something in my life.”

Ms Anderson got a job in the public service and then, in 2010, was offered an opportunity to further her education through
Relationships Australia’s Indigenous Pathways program.

Relationships Australia

This allowed her, along with 15 other indigenous people from the Canberra region, to study an 18-month course and gain a Diploma of Counselling.

After graduating with a diploma, Ms Anderson was offered another opportunity - to enrol at
Australian Catholic University and study social work.

“Social work was always a passion and a dream,” Ms Anderson said. “It’s been in the back of my mind, I’ve always had a vision. Everything just fell into place for me then and I was able to start studying at ACU.”

After applying to study social work, Ms Anderson became one of only five people nationally to win a
scholarship from the Department of Human Services.

Department of Human Services Scholarships

“I’m a Department of Human Services indigenous scholar now, so I study and am still paid my wage from the department,” she said. “It means I have that financial support to be able to study full time.”

Ms Anderson started a Bachelor of Social Work at the ACU Canberra campus this year [2012]. Through the Indigenous Pathways program she was able to have her Diploma of Counselling count towards her degree so she can finish faster.

She also has lots of support from within the university, particularly from the indigenous unit and its head Dr Christine Fejo-King.

“She is such an inspiration to me,” Ms Anderson said.

“She’s really worked hard to give me so many more opportunities. She’s now invited me to go to the
International Federation of Social Workers' conference in Malaysia this November (2012) with her, which is really exciting.

International Federation of Social Workers

“When you’ve got a really good indigenous coordinator that supports you and backs you like that, giving you these development opportunities as an indigenous student, it really means a lot.”

Ms Anderson is currently gaining hands-on experience in a work placement with Centrelink.

“I think helping people has always been important to me,” she said. “[At Centrelink] you deal with such a range of things, like homelessness, youth at risk, domestic violence. I just want to help as much as I can.”

She leaves soon to go to a remote indigenous community in Western Australia to do social work placement.

“Helping indigenous Australians obviously means a lot to me, being indigenous. That’s something I would want to focus on when I’m finished the degree,” she said. “I think for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, having a social worker with an indigenous background can really help.”

After she completes the degree, she hopes to work for the Department of Human Services as a social worker, to give back to them after they have helped her so much, and continue to advocate for indigenous people, especially in education.

“For me, as a teenager, I wasn’t interested in education,” she said. “It was just about getting a job and surviving, not about studying. Education is so important and I want to promote that.”



How do you to promote Social Work as a career?

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1. Read through the material presented here and about the job of Social Worker.

2. Once you have read through the material, collate it and put it into PowToon.  


3. Show this presentation to your class.


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