New baby delivers career change choice for Amy - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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New baby delivers career change choice for Amy

10 Jan 2020

A new baby has brought a new career perspective for a Maryborough counsellor and wellbeing practitioner who will begin a Social Work degree at USC Fraser Coast next month.

Amy Purcell, 29, is among the first group of students to enrol in the full Social Work program, being introduced this year through the Fraser Coast campus in Hervey Bay.

“Becoming a social worker is something I debated for a long time, but it wasn’t until I began maternity leave recently that I took the opportunity to stop and take a good look at what I really wanted to do with my life and career,” said Amy.

“I thought, if I don’t do it now, I never will. And it was a case of perfect timing with USC introducing the full four-year degree at its Hervey Bay campus,” she said.

Before having daughter Penny almost 12 months ago, Amy, who has a Human Services degree, worked as a practitioner at Centacare in Maryborough.

“I believe social work will expand my career opportunities, while allowing me to keep working in the mental health and wellbeing support sector,” she said.

“I know it’s a cliché, but I really enjoy helping people. Life is hard sometimes and it is nice to be able to help people navigate their way through those times.”

Amy, who will receive credits from her Human Services degree, said it was wonderful to have the opportunity to study the full Social Work program at the Fraser Coast campus.

Previously, students could only complete first-year Social Work subjects locally, with the remaining subjects provided at USC’s Sunshine Coast campus.

This year, USC Fraser Coast is offering the first and second year of the program, rolling out the third year in 2021 and the fourth year in 2022.

Head of USC’s School of Social Sciences Professor Ken Greenwood said delivering a flexible, full Social Work degree at the local campus made it a viable study option for those previously unable to relocate to complete the program due to work and family commitments.

Professor Greenwood said social work was a profession that valued life experience, making it an ideal choice for a range of people seeking a career change.

USC’s Social Work degree integrates learning with practical workplace experience in fields including health, mental health, child protection and disability, with graduates finding diverse employment opportunities locally and internationally.

Amy said having her own child had opened her eyes to the challenges involved and the importance of support for new mothers.

“I’ve always worked with children, youth and their families, however I would like to move into providing social work services to young mothers dealing with anxiety and depression,” she said.

There is still time to apply to study at USC in Semester 1, which starts on 24 February.

— Clare McKay

New USC Fraser Coast Social Work student Amy Purcell

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