Australian Community Workers Association Australian Community Workers Association

Welfare Worker

A welfare worker is a person who is qualified and experienced in working with individuals, families, and groups to ensure they have access to needed services and are supported to achieve and maintain social inclusion.

ABS definition – Welfare Worker ANZSCO-272613

A welfare worker ‘Assists individuals, families and groups with social, emotional or financial difficulties to improve quality of life, by educating and supporting them and working towards change in their social environment.’

Common occupational titles

Intake and Assessment Officer, Housing Officer, Counsellor (AOD, family, grief etc.) Case Manager/Case Worker, Multicultural Support Officer, Child Protection Practitioner, Community Corrections Worker, Parole Officer, Crisis Intervention Worker, Social Worker

PLEASE NOTE: having your occupational title listed does not necessarily mean your work experience is relevant. Please refer to all relevant information.

Assessment criteria

Qualifications can be one of the following:
  1. An ACWA accredited qualification: ACWA accredited diploma or higher course.
  2. A recognised relevant qualification: A professionally accredited course recognised by ACWA as being equivalent to an ACWA accredited AQF level 7 degree or higher.
    A recognised relevant qualification meets all the following:
    • is a bachelor degree or higher (equivalent to AQF level 7)
    • has a community and human services focus
    • is professionally accredited by the source country’s professional body which has equivalent accreditation standards to ACWA. Professional accreditation is a process by which a course is validated by a professional body similar to ACWA.
  3. A relevant bachelor’s degree or higher qualification: A bachelor’s degree or higher qualification related to community services.
A relevant qualification is one which adequately prepares graduates to perform community work in Australia. It has a focus on providing community and human services and will typically cover:
  • sociology; social, political, economic structures and function
  • social policy, human development and function including psychological, physical and social aspects
  • general and specialised welfare services and systems
  • work with individuals, families, groups and communities
  • communication, basic counselling and interpersonal skills
  • additional subjects which could include child development, social justice, child protection, mental health, case management, group theory, drug and alcohol issues, crisis intervention, psychology, youth work, working with children and families, community development, juvenile justice, family violence.
Please note:
  • In instances where an applicant has used recognition of prior learning (RPL) to gain credit towards their qualification, ACWA will accept a maximum of 40% RPL otherwise the qualification will not be recognised.
  • Some courses do not contain the breadth of core content required to prepare graduates for practice e.g., graduate certificates and graduate diplomas. These qualifications must follow a relevant undergraduate or additional related qualification, otherwise they will not be considered sufficient.
  • ACWA will not accept qualifications which are unduly short. Unduly short qualifications do not provide students with sufficient time to gain the required skills and knowledge.
Applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency in one of the following ways:

  1. English language test results. Results must be within 3 years of application and, for IELTS only, you can submit multiples tests as long as they are from within a period of 12 months.
    The acceptable tests and required scores are:
    IELTS (general or academic) = 7 in each band
    PTE Academic = 65 in each band
    Advanced (CAE) = 185 in each band
    TOEFL IBT PTE = Listening 24, Speaking 23, Reading 24, Writing 27.
  2. Study conducted in English from a country with English as its main language. Completed study either:
    • at the level of bachelor’s degree, masters or Ph.D. or
    • completed all secondary education and diploma
    The study must have been delivered and assessed in English in a country with English as the main or official language. These are Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, United States of America, Canada, and New Zealand.
  3. Two years of relevant industry experience in an English-speaking country. Completed at least 2 years full time (or part time equivalent) employment at the required skill level with English as the primary means of communication in a country with English as the main or official language. These are Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, United States of America, Canada, and New Zealand.
  4. A suitable skills assessment that expired within the last 6 months. Applicants who received a suitable skills assessment and are applying for the same occupation can submit a copy of their original outcome to establish English proficiency.


Employment in the industry is defined as paid employment which involves the provision of direct service to clients at an individual, group, family, or community level. It is employment within the past 4 years, post-qualification, and must be at an appropriate skill level.
  1. ACWA accredited qualification or recognised relevant qualification: Applicants who have an ACWA accredited or recognised equivalent qualification are deemed to have sufficient industry experience through their field placement requirements. Where shortcomings are identified in a practicum component ACWA may ask an applicant to reapply after completing 3 months full time or part-time equivalent industry experience.
  2. Relevant bachelor’s degree: Applicants must have a minimum of 2 years full-time (or part-time equivalent) industry experience within the last 4 years.


Applicants must also demonstrate their knowledge and skills are up to date in one of the following ways:
  • holding a qualification that is less than 4 years old
  • a minimum of least 3 months full time (or part-time equivalent) employment in a relevant current role at the required skill level
  • at least 6 months relevant employment at the required skill level within the last 18 months

Glossary of terms

ACWA accredited course

An applicant is deemed to have graduated from an ACWA accredited course if the course and campus was accredited by ACWA for the entire duration of the applicant’s study. If the course gained ACWA accreditation during the applicant’s study period, applications will be assessed on a case by case basis under this category. ACWA accredited courses are listed here.

Industry experience

Employment which involves the provision of professional community and human services. It is paid work, post-qualification, and must be at the skill level appropriate to the qualification.

Full time work

Paid employment of 30 hours or more per week.

Skill level

The range and complexity of the tasks performed in the occupation require a qualification equivalent to AQF Level 5/7. Please note: some support worker roles take place in the same setting as this occupation but only require a certificate level qualification (AQF Level 3/4). Employment at this skill level will not be considered.