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CF can present many challenges that are not always directly related to maintaining or improving health. Issues or confusion may arise in your social situation, with medical care providers, government bodies, education providers, employers or home environment. Social workers are the professionals who can support and assist you with resolving issues. If you’ve ever wondered what a social worker does and whether this expertise might be beneficial to your circumstances, we’ve done our best to provide you some answers.

What is social work?

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. The principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work.

What does a social worker do?

A social worker is a health professional who helps people in times of crisis. Their clients may include families, students, hospital patients or the elderly. Social workers can provide their clients with practical support, counselling, information and emotional support.

Social workers support people to make change in their lives to improve their personal and social wellbeing. They can help people identify issues that require change, and connect people with support, such as secure housing or family therapy. They spend time with their clients identifying issues that are causing distress, working out the barriers to addressing them, and then making a plan to move forward to relieve the distress.

Are there different types of social workers?

Social workers usually choose to specialise in a specific field of social work, such as:

  • Education
  • Government
  • Community healthcare
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health
  • Aged care
  • Youth justice
  • Early intervention
  • Child protection programs
  • Family support services
  • Housing
  • Disability

People living with CF  may approach a social worker who specialises in the health and community sector. They understand the needs of clients with regard to their health, access to resources and social support systems.

How can a social worker help me?

One aspect a social worker can help is by teaching skills and developing mechanisms for clients to use to better their lives and experiences.

They are also responsible for helping people to get access to the services they need to improve their situation and wellbeing. This can include material aid and emergency assistance, housing, counselling, family services support and education support

How can I find a social worker?

There is a social worker on your CF clinic team. CFCC and CF organisations in other states have social workers on their teams.

Most community support agencies will have social workers, including carer support agencies, community health centres and crisis services, such as the Salvation Army.

You can also see a private practitioner social worker for counselling from your Mental Health Plan Medicare rebate. To locate one, visit https://www.aasw.asn.au/find-a-social-worker/search/.