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Timeline :: Melbourne - Social Work education begins

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Social work training began at Melbourne in 1931. Dr Georgina Sweet, President YWCA, called a meeting at Melbourne Town Hall chaired by the Lord Mayor, agreed to establish social work training under the auspice but initially outside of the University of Melbourne. (Three women had already undertaken training as almoners under the Victoria Institute of Almoners - VIA.) The following year, a Committee on Training for Social Work was instituted, and a Board of Social Studies (BSS) set up to develop and manage training. Four students began in 1933; one of the VIA staff helped with training until Jocelyn Hyslop arrived the following year from England (via a study trip to the USA paid for by the BSS), becoming the first Director of Training for the BSS.

Hyslop's emphasis was on the professional/vocational - as was the case in the US, with its strong emphasis on fieldwork and theory to practice. By 1935, the BSS Diploma of Social Science had been renamed the Diploma of Social Service, illustrating this focus. Hyslop maintained her US connections, with visitors from New York and Minnesota in the late 1930s. By 1939, there was a name-change again, this time to the Diploma of Social Studies: a course of training for social work. The same year, a second full-time staff member was appointed - Jean Robertson, who had trained in Glasgow - to assist with field education.

In 1940, the course entered the univerity, 'having been judged to be of appropriate academic standard' (p55). The Victorian Council on Social Training was subsequently wound up in 1944, the same year that Hyslop resigned due to illness, and Ruth Hoban took over as Director. In 1947, a three-year Diploma of Social Studies began; by 1956, this became a MA in Social Studies, located in the History Department.

In 1974, the Bachelor of Social Work degree commenced, followed the next year by the MSW. The first PhD in Social Work from the University of Melbourne was awarded in 1982 (Thea Brown). By 1988, Social Work had entered the Faculty of Arts, and the BSS was disbanded.

Source: Miller, Jane (2016) Leading Social Work. 75 Years at the University of Melbourne, published by the University of Melbourne.