Collaboration Delivers Australian ‘Social Sector Institute’
15 June 2016 at 3:58 pm
A government, tertiary institution and Not for Profit collaboration has established an education training institute for the social services sector, which has been described as a world first.
Funding has been made available for a new research and teaching institute, called The Future Social Service Institute, in a collaboration between the Victorian government, the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and RMIT University.
The Victorian government is providing $500,000 seed funding, to be matched by RMIT.
According to VCOSS, it’s the first time a government, a tertiary institution and the social service sector have come together to jointly tackle the challenges of social service reform.
VCOSS CEO Emma King told Pro Bono Australia News that the institute would benefit from being firmly rooted in both the social service and tertiary sectors.
“The significant jobs growth [in Australia] is in the disability and aged care sectors. We need a workforce that is up and ready to meet the demand and at the moment we don’t have that,” King said.
“It’s the biggest growing sector that we have, so at the same time as our traditional economy such as manufacturing is shrinking this area is growing exponentially and there is no end in sight.
“It is a partnership that is certainly not matched within Australia and we don’t believe it is matched globally. It is a world first in that the government and the community and a world class tertiary institution have joined together to make the most of what are actually some amazing opportunities.
“We are looking at how we create the right opportunities for employment and at the same time for people who have disabilities or who are ageing and making sure they have the worlds best support.
“The institute will engage in meaningful dialogue with social service organisations, existing support workers and care receivers, and partner with them to co-design the course curriculum.”
She said the institute would provide significant impact, particularly with the National Disability Insurance Scheme in coming years.
The Victorian minister for housing, ageing and disability, Martin Foley, said the collaboration would deliver economic and social dividends that would empower Not for Profits to re-orient to a global market.
“With the impending introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, an ageing population and broader shifts in the delivery of social support, this institute will position Victoria to produce the world’s most highly-skilled support workers and carers,” Foley said.
“But the real winners will be those in need of support and assistance. They’ll be better able to pursue the lifestyle they value, with the backing of a highly skilled and growing workforce.”
RMIT Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean said RMIT had distinct strengths in its ability to work with community and global industry networks to drive employment and innovation outcomes.
“RMIT already equips students with the skills to work in the social service – from vocational education qualifications in individual support and alcohol and other drugs, to bachelor degrees in social work and youth work, and masters degrees and beyond,” Bean said.
“The social service sector has an exciting future and together we have an opportunity to champion solutions to complex social issues.”
The institute will begin full operation in 2017 after a period of consultation and development with a cross-section of sector representatives.