Aiming to continue in the family tradition of social work is Peter Dorsett, who graduated from Griffith this week with First Class Honours.

The Bachelor of Social Work student from Fairfield, says the influence of his grandmother Alyce and mother Pat, who have both had diverse careers within the social work sector, have had a powerful effect on his own sense of justice and poverty alleviation within society.

“My family has always cared for others and I guess some of that has rubbed off on me,” says Peter, who has just completed an 18 week practicum with an Elder Abuse Prevention program with Uniting Care.

“Elder abuse appears to be a growing problem in our society as we go towards an increasingly aging population and unfortunately there is not a great deal of funding being put into this worthy area.

“My work with Uniting Care involved drawing together and coordinating stakeholders in developing a strategy to plan for this issue. We have found that the accessibility of information and support is in many cases, often quite poor with knowledge of issues such as how to make a will, powers of attorney and healthcare directives rather low.

“Much of the demand for this type of social work is within migrant or refugee groups where people may arrive here from countries that have minimal understanding of social work. Their cultural and language perspective may be totally different and so the level of complexity of family situation may be quite challenging.”

Whilst studying for his degree Peter also completed a 17 week practicum with the Lotus Place, a dedicated support service and resource centre for Forgotten Australians and former child migrants.

“This was a really interesting placement as it provided the opportunity to help these people provide submissions to the recent Royal Commission for Sexual Abuse, assisting with case management and supporting them with any rehabilitation or administration needs that they had.”

Making a difference

“Social work certainly is a profession that aims to make a real difference to society,” says Peter’s mother Pat, who is a program director and senior lecturer for the School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith. “It can make a difference in the lives of people individually but also in our communities and with society at large.”

As a social worker herself, Pat has worked in a variety of fields including disability, child protection and health and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, Peter’s grandmother Alyce completed her social work studies at Judson College in Madison, Alabama in the 1950’s before the family migrated to Australia.

“She has always been a role model for us and instilled a strong sense of social justice and respect for all people regardless of their situation,” says Peter. “She worked in the child protection field here in Queensland for more than 20 years, receiving commendations for her contributions to services to families and children in the state when she retired.”