Counsellor and Community Worker

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief Counsellors and community workers act as a source of information and advice to individuals and communities. They advocate on behalf of their clients and work to develop community based services, such as improved literacy services, financial advisory services and help for migrants.

There are currently around 1,900 counsellors employed in South Australia. Over half are employed full-time and most work in the health and community services and education industries. Over half of persons in this occupation are female and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has an older age profile with more than half of those employed aged 45 years or older.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Counsellor and Community Worker

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Many people have personal or social needs that cannot be met at home or at work, which can cause emotional, physical or psychological hardship. But those needs don't have to be overlooked. Luckily, there are services and facilities designed to help. You will be working with community groups, identifying what services people actually need. They work alongside welfare officers and various community service agencies, to encourage and assist people to meet those needs. They are also instrumental in the development of community services, which can have a powerful effect on people's lives. They help all types of people, of different ages and in various settings. It could be the residents of a nursing home, young people at a youth shelter, people at a centre for the disabled, people in Aboriginal communities or migrants and refugees that need their support.

Helping and Community ServicesInfluencing and Personal Contact

Education Requirements

Of those currently employed 64% have Bachelor Degrees or higher qualifications; 16% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas. While 10% have no post school qualifications it is recommended that further study be undertaken to remain competitive when applying for work within the industry.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Counselling, Diploma of Community Services (Case Management), Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling), Diploma of Community Services Work, Diploma of Family Intake and Support Work, Diploma of Community Services (Alcohol and other drugs), Diploma of Community Services (Alcohol, other drugs and mental health), Diploma of Community Services (Mental health). Pathways include Certificate II and IV in Community Services Work, Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs and Certificate IV in Mental Health.

Studying at TAFE SA is one of the easiest and most successful pathways towards a University Degree. Dual offer courses are available to TAFE SA and Flinders University in the Diploma of Community Services Work/Bachelor of Social Work and Social Planning.

Career Path

Counsellors may specialise in working with a particular group such as people from non-English-speaking backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or single parents. Or they may specialise in a service area such as health, accommodation, relationships, employment, career development, grief and loss, stress management, child development and abuse issues.

Employment forecasts indicate above average employment prospects in this occupation. An increase in a range of social problems, such as a growing number of homeless people, marriage breakdowns, increasing numbers of people with financial difficulties, unemployment and literacy problems, all indicate an ongoing need for community services. However, despite growth in this occupation, there are large numbers in training and competition for available places can be intense. Employment prospects also depend on the level of government funding allocated to community organisations.

Nature of the Job

Most counsellors and community workers are working in community and health service organisations. These organisations offer a wide range of support services to the community, including family support, resettlement programs for migrants and refugees, community and adult education, counselling services and programs for children. They also undertake various community projects. Counsellors and community workers are employed to plan, develop and deliver these programs and services. This may involve the delivery of adult literacy programs or programs that help women prepare for re-entry into the workforce. Financial planning is another area where some people in the community need special help.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Counsellors assist people to better understand themselves by explaining options, setting goals and helping them to take action. They work with clients to find solutions to emotional, mental and lifestyle problems. They can also act as facilitators in group sessions or as mediators in conflict resolution. They work with other professionals such as medical practitioners, psychologists and social workers as part of a health management team.

Counsellors need to have sympathetic and caring nature. It is essential that they have good communication skills, a high level of maturity and good life-coping skills.

Typical Occupational Example

Counsellors and community workers often have clients referred to them by government agencies, such as Centrelink or Family and Children Services, or by non-government organisations. Clients also approach the services themselves. An important task for community workers involves establishing support networks to assist in the promotion of their organisation's services and programs. They communicate with non-government and government organisations to advise them on how clients can better access their services. For example, migrants might be disadvantaged when trying to find accommodation, in which case, community workers might encourage the relevant agencies to employ translators to assist them. They are also required to continually evaluate the effectiveness of community services and programs. Evaluation also helps to pinpoint what new services may be required in the future.

They generally work in an office environment seeing clients, however a considerable amount of time is spent out of the office networking with other community organisations and government departments. To work in this occupation you should be genuinely interested in community issues and working with people. Good communication skills are a must. Not only should you have a rapport with your clients, but you may also be required to liaise with government agencies on their behalf. The ability to resolve conflict quickly is an essential part of this job.

For further information, contact:

Australian Counselling Association
Phone: 1300 784 333
Fax: (07) 3356 4709

Australian Community Workers Association
Phone: (03) 9654 8287

Health Services Union of Australia (SA)
Phone: (08) 8279 2255
Fax: (08) 8279 2223

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online