Skip to main content

Timeline :: Deakin University begins Social Work education


Social work education commenced at Deakin University in 1994, with a four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). Until 2008, all Australian qualifying degrees in social work were at Bachelor’s level, but after a decision to accredit Masters level qualifications, Deakin commenced a MSW degree for graduates seeking to qualify as a social worker. In 2017, there are over 700 students enrolled in either BSW or MSW degrees at Deakin.

Widening participation to higher education is intrinsic to Deakin’s social work program. Since its beginnings in the 1970s, Deakin University has had a commitment to providing university education to those members of the Australian community who historically had difficulty attending on campus courses, and remains a major provider of distance education to this day. Deakin’s BSW was one the first social work degrees offered by distance in Australia. In 2017, the majority of BSW and all of our MSW students are primarily taught through the Cloud campus. The BSW is also taught to indigenous students through the university’s Institute for Koorie Education (IKE) and is the largest course taught by IKE. Deakin’s online offerings are essential in ensuring students who would not otherwise have the opportunity are able to obtain a professional degree in social work.

Underpinned by critical theory, the philosophy of Deakin social work is of providing

… a progressive and innovative approach to social work with emphasis on personal, community and social development in urban/rural and local/global contexts. The course engages with the interplay between diversity, power and social inequality through anti-oppressive, empowerment and critically-reflective approaches to social work practice and social policy.

These commitments inform both what and how we teach social work. Deakin social work staff are strongly committed to pedagogical models which encourage students to critique for themselves the often disparate ideas which may concurrently find favour with different segments of this often diverse profession of which we are a part.

This commitment to critical reflection also applies to ourselves. We have a scholarly approach to teaching, and there is now a significant body of published work where we have openly scrutinised new approaches to learning and teaching which we have been developing. Publications since 2012 which are specifically about our approaches to teaching and learning are listed below.

For more information about social work at Deakin go to

Source: Professor Beth Crisp, Discipline Leader for Social Work