Zoe Gill had been a social worker for 15 years when she enrolled in a Master of Social Work at Griffith University.

Already a leader within her industry, Zoe took on the degree as a personal challenge. She felt like ‘something was missing’, and that something was a qualification commensurate with her substantial lived experience.

What impressed Zoe about Griffith was how much her supervisors really cared as they guided her through the university system. Zoe saw her lecturers, tutors and convenors bringing social work values into education.

“They cared about me as a social worker would: They saw me, my whole life and my professional experience,” Zoe said.

“If you meet them at their expectations, they will do anything for you, as they want good outcomes for their students. They cared about the outcomes that I had.”

One moment when Zoe felt like Griffith University cared was her final placement. Her course supervisor, Joanne Williams, helped create a personalised experience that offered a Zoe a new challenge.

“Jo committed to the project, and I grew so much more because of her efforts,” Zoe said. “I really got a challenging project working with passionate people living wonderful lives. I was able to hear their voices and produced a graphic story as my assessment. Voices really matter.”

Zoe graduated in 2017. She often thinks back at her time studying with affection and warmth, and she says it’s left her with a wider view of public health and society. “It was incredibly important that I see the bigger picture,” she said.

Taking a wider view of social work was important to Zoe in her role as a systems navigator in the disability services sector. She helps deliver positive outcomes for clients and their doctors by guiding them through the complex health system.

“A barrier for people with a disability getting the help they need isn’t just accessing the system, but it is also understanding how to navigate the system. It’s not easy. People can get lost and fall through the cracks,” Zoe said.

“I’m the navigation point. I am the vehicle to get people the information they need, empower them and give them space to live their lives.”