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Social Work as we know it has been decades in the making

24 June 2022

Over the course of three decades, social work as we know it at PA Hospital, has been shaped and crafted into a service that is responsive to growing needs within the community.

The Social Work Team and Director Sue Cumming have been essential to these changes, but now after 30 years at PAH and over 43 years in the profession, Sue will retire on 1 July.

Sue first came to PAH as a third-year social work student in 1975, before commencing her career at the Southport Hospital. Several years in the Department of Social Security and the non-government sector followed before Sue returned to PAH in 1992 under the auspicious title of 'Social Worker in Charge'.

“I started at PA Hospital in what we refer to as the ‘old building’ at a time when nursing and social work staff wore starched white uniforms. The dress code has changed considerably between then and now.”

Over the time Sue has worked at the PAH she has been part of some significant changes on the campus including the move to Building 1, an expanded organisational structure, a surge in staff numbers and professions that enable the hospital to keep functioning, and all of this alongside medical and technological advancement.

Other changes have included the investment in promoting authentic consumer participation and advocacy for the improvement of patient care and valuing the lived experience and knowledge of our consumer advisors.

“Our Social Work Department has played a lead role in promoting a greater awareness and understanding of Domestic and Family Violence amongst all staff at PAH, the implementation of the NDIS and hosting two Heath Justice Partnerships on campus, which includes the Women’s Legal Service and the Older Persons Advocacy Legal Service,” Sue said.

“The implementation of our Statewide Clinical Education Program represented a major advance in the education of social work students and our Social Work Department hosts many placements each semester.

“Something that’s also very important to me is our team’s connection with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hospital Liaison Officers and the Pastoral Care Department,” she said.

Throughout 30 years of changes, Sue said the foundation of social work continues to be the interface between the patient, their environment, and broader societal systems. The patient cannot be seen in isolation from their environment.

“I had the privilege of working with colleagues who have been kind, generous and supportive. I will genuinely miss many of my daily interactions with my social work staff, allied health and divisional colleagues,” she said.

Sue, thank you for investing so many years in the lives of PA Hospital patients and staff. 

Last updated 24 June 2022
Last reviewed 24 June 2022

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