Community & Social Services
Community workers help to improve the quality of life in local communities by developing facilities or programs to meet those needs.
What does a Community Worker do?
Community workers help to improve the quality of life in local communities by identify needs, and helping to develop facilities or programs to meet those needs. Community workers often specialise in certain areas or types of programs in areas such as health, housing, youth services, education or arts.
As a community worker, you would:
- identify a community's current skills, concerns and needs
- organise and lead meetings where people can give input and have their say
- develop new activities and programs to meet the perceived needs
- advise on grants, sponsorship and other sources of funding
- write funding bids and proposals or approach potential sponsors
- manage budgets and undertake general administration
- help to raise public awareness on issues relevant to the community
- manage projects to completion and assess their outcomes and effectiveness
- recruit and train paid and voluntary staff
- encouraging participation in activities
- develop and maintain links with other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as the police, social workers, youth workers and teachers.
Key skills and interests
To become a community worker, you would need:
- strong communication skills
- to have respect for the rights and views of a wide range of individuals
- an interest in community and social issues
- self-motivation and the ability to work independently
- project management and time management skills
- budgeting and financial management skills
- to enjoy assisting people.
Working hours and conditions
Your working hours would depend on the needs of the community and the projects you were involved in. Weekend and evening work is common and you may need to work longer than standard hours. Part-time or contract work is often available, as many community projects are for a fixed period, and based on a set amount of funding.
Community workers work with communities and groups of people in settings including aged care, youth centres, community centres, centres for people with disability, and Aboriginal communities. Many roles are with local or state government agencies, and may be in regional or remote locations.
You would often have an office base, but spend much of your time in the community. You would likely need a current drivers' licence, especially if you were working in regional or remote communities.
How to become an Community Worker?
Entry Level Education
To become a community worker you usually have to complete a VET or degree-level qualification in a relevant discipline such as community services, community development, social welfare or community welfare. Entry to relevant degree courses usually requires you to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent.
If you are working with children, you would be required to complete the equivalent of a Working with Children check. A National Police Certificate may also be required.
The Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA) represents a broad range of community workers across Australia. To become a member, you need to have completed an accredited course. A list of accredited courses is available on the website.
Employment opportunities for community workers rose slightly in the past five years.
Positions for community workers are often dependent on state or federal government funding, and funding is often available on a project-by-project basis only. However, there is growth within the community care sector due to an ageing population and the fact that automation is not as big a threat to this occupation as some others.