Social Workers

Information for Social Workers regarding visas and immigration to Australia.

Criteria for qualifications obtained in INDIA

  1. All qualifications assessed individually using the AASW¡’s Five Essential Criteria*
  2. Where qualifications are regarded by AASW as comparable to at least the educational level of Australian Bachelor degree (see Essential Criterion Three*) and where there is a Master degree in social work we are looking for a relevant Bachelor degree followed by two year Master in social work which has generic focus and where AASW field education requirements have been met.
  3. Where there is specialisation in the second year of a Master of Social Work (or Master of Arts in Social Work) qualifications will have to be assessed on an individual basis*
  4. NOT relevant degree followed two-year Master in Social Work (where qualifications are assessed by as at least comparable educational level of an Australian Bachelor degree). Supplementary Education Program usually recommended meet AASW membership eligibility requirements. Individual assessment*
  5. Bachelor degrees in social work assessed on individual basis*


The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) has a commitment to the international social work community, and is a member of the International Federation of Social Workers IFSW). It values the contribution that social workers educated overseas can make to Australia increasingly multicultural society, and recognises the importance of assessment of overseas qualifications so that eligible social workers may seek employment in Australia as social workers and join the AASW.

This information sheet is designed to be read in its entirety. It has three main sections:

  • Section I: How to apply for assessment;
  • Section II: Criteria used in the assessment; and
  • Section III: Glossary of terms and acronyms.

There have been some recent changes in assessment criteria. This is part of AASW’s ongoing plan to develop a system and process of assessment which reflects an understanding of the diversity of education for social work practice globally, and which also reflects the academic and professional requirements for social work practice in Australia



Social work in Australia is not a registered profession. However, the AASW is the standard setting body for the profession of social work in Australia. Graduation from an Australian AASW accredited Bachelor of Social Work degree confers eligibility for membership of the AASW.

If you have overseas qualifications in social work and you wish to apply for jobs which require eligibility for membership of the AASW OR if you wish to migrate to Australia under the Australian Government¡¦s Skilled Migration Program as a social worker, you will need to apply for an assessment of your qualifications to determine whether or not they do meet AASW membership eligibility requirements.

How the qualifications are assessed

The AASW assessment process is comparative. Assessment of all overseas educated applicants seeking membership of the AASW is undertaken individually by the AASW on a basis of comparison with the educational requirements of Australian social workers, using written materials. The assessments are not competency-based. The Five Essential Criteria used in the assessment are outlined in the second part of this information sheet.

Most people who have not met our membership eligibility requirements have been required to undertake further study in an AASW-accredited Australian Bachelor of Social Work degree in order to meet our requirements. This would be indicated in the assessment notice. Some universities offer some subjects by distance education.

Please note that not all jobs in the social welfare field in Australia require eligibility for membership of the AASW, although many do. In addition, experience shows that many overseas-qualified social workers who may not meet the membership eligibility requirements of the AASW, may meet the membership eligibility requirements of other organisations like the Australian Institute of Welfare and Community Workers (AIWCW). Contact details for AIWCW are found in the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition¡¦s (NOOSR) leaflet, Social Work and Welfare Work in Australia, available from AASW, AIWCW and NOOSR.

Application forms

In order to apply for assessment you need to obtain an application form from AASW. A different application form is used, depending on whether you are a non-resident of Australia and needing the assessment for migration purposes, or whether you are an Australian resident or New Zealand citizen needing the assessment to apply for jobs which require eligibility for membership of AASW. ASA Consultants will supply you with the correct application form.

If the qualifications do not meet our requirements

Under current arrangements, if an overseas social worker were to apply to AASW as a nonresident  for assessment of qualifications and his/her qualifications were assessed as not meeting our membership eligibility requirements, the application and qualifications would be sent to the AIWCW for assessment against their requirements for welfare workers. This is at no extra charge (AASW passes on a portion of the fee to AIWCW).

The AIWCW is the relevant assessing authority for welfare workers, under the arrangements put in place by the Australian Department of Immigration on 1 July 1999.

Australian qualifications

IF you are already a full member of AASW AND you need an assessment of your qualifications for migration purposes (perhaps because you completed an Australian Bachelor of Social Work as an overseas student), you will still need to fill in the applicable fprm and submit the documents. However, the assessment fee will be refunded, provided you are already a full member of AASW at the time of receipt of your application for assessment.

Useful information for all applicants

Assessments can only be conducted following the submission of a correctly completed application form and fee. Assessments cannot be given by phone.


Please read the application forms very carefully so that you know what information and documents you need to provide. This will save time in the long run.

If you decide to apply for assessment and you have a Bachelor degree followed by a Postgraduate Diploma or Master Degree in social work, we will need the documents as outlined on the application form for both your Bachelor degree and your Postgraduate Diploma/Master (and any other relevant degrees). Sometimes applicants may be requested to provide additional information.

Length of assessment time

The assessments are undertaken in chronological order of receipt of complete applications. The application forms indicate that we aim to complete them within 2 months of receipt if the application is complete and no further information is required. If possible, they are completed sooner.

If they are not able to be completed on the basis of guidelines or precedent available to the AASW assessment officer, they will be referred by the assessment officer to the AASW Committee which oversees these assessments- the Eligibility for Membership of Overseas Qualified Social Workers Committee (EMOQ), and this may extend the time required to complete the assessment.


The National Office of the AASW does not keep any specific information about either permanent or temporary employment. We do have Branches in each state and territory and some of these maintain a register for temporary employment and may have other useful information. However it is preferable to wait until you know whether or not your qualifications will meet our membership eligibility criteria before contacting the Branches. Other information about jobs can be found in the large capital city daily newspapers.


Information about appeals is given at the time of assessment to those people whose qualifications are assessed as not fully meeting requirements (a fee applies for appeals).


Five Essential Criteria Used in the Assessment of Overseas Social Work Qualifications

Note: All five criteria must be met

Criterion One

The qualification must be regarded as a professional social work qualification in the country of training, recognised by whichever official body is responsible for accreditation of social workers and/or social work courses where such a body exists. The qualification must enable eligibility for membership of the professional social work association of the country of training where such an association exists, and where eligibility is conferred by formal qualification.

Criterion Two

The qualification must be a specific qualification in social work.

Criterion Three

The level of qualification must be Bachelor degree or higher in Australian terms. AASW will make this assessment, using multiple sources, with the major reference point being the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition¡¦s Country Education Profiles.

Criterion Four

The curriculum must correspond sufficiently in all major areas to the AASW requirements for the BSW according to the AASW’s Policy and Procedures for Establishing Eligibility of AASW (Part I and Part III)

Criterion Five

The length of the qualification should be four years, but where ALL OTHER CRITERIA (1-4 above) have been met.


The qualification is three years or longer


Required evidence can be provided of at least three-year full time professional social work experience undertaken following completion of the professional social work degree and within ten (10) years of the completion of that degree, THEN the experience may be considered as a way of compensating for the shortfall of one year in the academic program.

Summary of course and curriculum requirements

These are found in a more detailed form in Policy and Procedures for Establishing Eligibility for Membership of AASW (available on AASW¡’s website).

Academic structure

Courses must satisfy the requirement of four years of full-time degree level study, or its part time equivalent, which leads to the award of a distinct qualification in social work. This degree level study must be assessed as comparable to the educational level of a four-year bachelor degree in social work in Australia. This requirement may usually be met through:

  1. a four-year bachelor degree; or
  2. the combination of a relevant undergraduate degree (which would include the study of society and/or the study of the individual in society) followed by a two-year postgraduate diploma or masters degree in social work;

Curriculum content Knowledge for practice

This is usually found over at least two semesters in the first two years of a four year program, or in the undergraduate degree preceding a postgraduate diploma or Master in social work and includes:

  1. The study of society, and how it is developed and organised (sociology, anthropology, social theory, history, economics and political science).
  2. Knowledge of social welfare arrangements, their history and organisation and the role of the law on such arrangements (sociology, social theory, politics, law, history, or economics).
  3. Knowledge of the individual (psychology, human development and behaviour, anthropology).

Practice knowledge and skills

The content of education for social work practice must include:

  1. All methods of social work intervention – community work, casework, group work, social action, research, social policy analysis and development, and administration.
  2. Practice skills, including interpersonal skills, communication skills, the skills of reflective and critical thinking and analysis, and of data collection and management.
  3. The skills of making assessments and deciding on the most appropriate intervention with which to respond to whatever situation faces the worker.
  4. Material on the recognition and thinking through of ethical issues with reference to the relevant country associations’ code of ethics and/or the AASW’s Code of Ethics.
  5. The contexts of social work practice at local, national and international levels. For the purposes of determining equivalence this will usually involve at least the equivalent of four semesters of social work practice theory in the last two years of the course covering casework, groupwork, community work, research, social policy and administration.

Field education

  1. An applicant must have completed at least 140 days (980 hours) of field education in at least two field placements and with two contrasting client foci.<P1) An applicant must have completed 140 days (980 hours) of education in at least field placements and with two contrasting client foci.
  2. Field education placements must cover a range of social work methods of intervention.
  3. Field education placements must be taken over two years in conjunction with the professional social work program of study.
  4. In highly specific circumstances, where there is a minor shortfall in field education placement hours only and all other parts of the course meet AASW requirements, other aspects such as post qualifying work experience as a social worker may be taken into account.

Country assessment guidelines

There are country assessment guidelines available for some countries. These are designed as guides only, as they can be changed by AASW at any time. An assessment still needs to be undertaken by AASW if you wish to establish whether or not your qualifications confer eligibility for membership of AASW. The country assessment guidelines can be found on the AASW’s website or you can contact AASW and ask whether guidelines are available for the country in which you are interested. The guidelines for India is listed right at the top of this form.


AASW Australian Association of Social Workers, the professional association for social workers in Australia. The AASW is the gazetted relevant assessing authority for overseas social workers wishing to migrate to Australia.  AIWCW Australian Institute of Welfare and Community Workers. Relevant assessing authority for overseas welfare workers wishing to migrate to Australia.  EMOQ Eligibility for Membership of Overseas Qualified Social Workers Committee. The AASW Committee, which oversees the assessment of overseas social work qualifications. Form SR1181 The application form for assessment of overseas social work qualifications where the applicant is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, Australian temporary resident with a visa which permits work in Australia (where the assessment will not be used to change residency status); and New Zealand citizen.

Form SWNR1182 The application form for assessment of overseas social workers, who are not Australian residents, or who need an assessment for the purposes of later lodging an application for permanent residency. If the qualifications are assessed as not meeting AASW requirements, they will be sent to the AIWCW for assessment against their requirements for welfare workers.


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