Hospital Social Work in Australia: Emerging Trends or More of the Same? Academic Article uri icon


  • Social work in health care has been established for more than 100 years and is one of the largest areas of practice for social workers. Over time, demographic changes and growth in the aging population, increased longevity rates, an explosion in rates of chronic illness together with rapidly increasing cost of health care have created serious challenges for acute hospitals and health social workers. This article reviews the Australian health care system and policies with particular emphasis on the public hospital system. It then examines current hospital social work roles, including the continued role in discharge planning and expanding responsibility for emerging client problems, such as patient complexity, legal, and carer issues. The article concludes with a discussion of evolving issues and challenges facing health social work to ensure that social work remain relevant within this practice context.

publication date

  • 2014