Supporting Australians at home and abroad

World Social Work Day (Tuesday 20 March) is the ideal time to highlight the work of the Department of Human Services’ social workers and raise awareness of social work services available for all Australians.

Social workers offer support and assistance including assessments, early intervention, crisis support, short-term counselling, casework and referrals for people with multiple and complex needs.

While their work at home may be familiar, Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said they play a lesser known important role responding to emergencies and disasters, both in Australia and overseas.

“Just over 15 years ago, 88 Australians tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attack in the Kuta tourist district of Bali, Indonesia,” said Mr Jongen.

“More than 200 people were killed, bringing international communities together to provide assistance in its wake.

“During this difficult time, our social workers provided support to grieving families.

“Working alongside other government agencies they formed the Family Support Team, providing ongoing assistance to the families of Australian victims.

“This was a defining moment for our country and one that brought people together, as Australians grieved for those affected and their loved ones.”

Departmental social workers provided assistance including counselling, referrals to legal advice, financial counselling, refuges, emergency payments and other crisis support.

It wasn’t an isolated case. The department’s social workers also supported Australians affected by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, the London bombings in 2005, the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 and the Japanese tsunami and nuclear event in 2011, among others and their anniversaries.

Closer to home, last year our social workers received more than 320,000 referrals for assistance. Of these, 65,976 were in relation to family and domestic violence, 49,872 were in relation to people experiencing mental health issues, and 6341 were for people at risk of suicide.

To find out more about our social work services, visit

Media contact: To set up a media interview with one of our social workers call 1800 531 991.