Recognising our wonderful social workers on their special day

Lady smiling at camer wearing headset

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world.  – Anne Frank 

Hayley Green thinks the theme for this year’s World Social Work Day on 15 March of Promoting the dignity and worth of people is a fitting reminder of why she works in this field.

“Everyone has a right to social justice and all human dignity and worth should be recognised,” Hayley said. “It’s the reason I became, and still am, a social worker.”

Hayley is a social worker for the Department of Human Services. Based in Melbourne, Hayley works in a team that provides short-term counselling, support and information to help people through difficult times over the phone.

“I enjoy my role because I get to talk to customers and colleagues all over the country,” Hayley said.

“Often I’ll work together with staff from other areas to do everything we can to get the best outcome for a customer. I think we all have moments where we’re blown away by our customers’ resilience. Time and time again, I hear truly heartbreaking stories but people go on and they manage in situations where I don’t know if I could’ve done the same.

“Recently, I was assessing a customer for a Crisis Payment. Bec* was in her early 40s, with 2 young children. She had just separated from her husband after a long history of domestic violence.

“The assessment went over 2 days. On the second day after gaining temporary accommodation, Bec said to me ‘It doesn’t matter if you can’t issue me the Crisis Payment. Just applying gave me the hope to get through yesterday’.

“Such a generous and positive comment reminds me payments have more than a practical purpose – the intention and process behind them can be beneficial too.”

While Hayley enjoys working in a phone based team, she finds the virtual aspect has its challenges.

“There’s a common misconception we can’t support people over the phone as well as we can face-to-face. Certainly there are challenges, such as not being able to read their facial expressions or body language.

“However, there are also advantages, particularly for customers who feel more comfortable giving information by phone. That’s why services like Lifeline work so well.

“The idea behind my team is to help as much as we can in that first phone call, so we don’t often get to see long-term outcomes, but I always make sure appropriate support is in place to help once our call ends.”

Hayley started working for the department 4 years ago in a face-to-face service centre in New South Wales.

“Before I joined the Australian Public Service, I worked in a hospital’s mental health in-patient unit and a community mental health team,” she said. “Prior to that, I had a job with Juvenile Justice while studying at university.

“All this experience has taught me how resilient people are and if the work my colleagues and I do can help a person overcome life’s adversities, it’s all worthwhile.”*Customer’s name changed for privacy

More information

Read more about the department’s social work services