When social work means the world is your oyster

When social work means the world is your oyster

05 Oct 2009

The bright lights of showbiz may seem ‘glamorous’ to those talented few, but there is also a very serious side to ‘the biz’ as La Trobe University social work graduate Erin Brooks discovered.

Erin Brooks She spent three years working in London and Australia on the set of the hit musical, Billy Elliot, as the Children’s Care Manager, supporting young people, their families and the company on any child related matters.

‘I had to remind some of the young performers that it is ok to relax, and have some free time,’ she says.

Erin recalls that her role meant she needed to adapt the knowledge she learnt at university into a environment removed from the social work situations she was used to, ensuring the cast of young actors were able to maintain a healthy balance between work and play.

‘Most of the young performers lived in boarding houses and took some time adjusting to a new environment,’ she says.

‘ They needed the same type of assistance when their time with Billy Elliott was over and  had to reintegrate back to their home surrounds and re-adjust to normal life. It could be quite difficult sometimes.’

It was determination that kept Erin going through the challenge of working on a production that featured mostly children.

Many of the children struggled with the dislocation from their families, and the pressures of having to work and perform to a very intense schedule.

‘Some were able to do this seamlessly and others not so well. I ensured I was still in contact with these children and supported them through that period.’

One of 20,000 social workers in Australia, when she graduated Erin didn’t really know what to expect from studying or what varied opportunities her social work degree would open.

Now, aged 28, with a several years of professional experience and a few thousand kilometres under her belt, Erin knows all too well that the world of social work opens many doors.

Erin hopes the diverse nature of her career path will inspire year 12’s and mature age students finalising their preferences for university study in 2010.  Her advice is not to be afraid to take a chance when choosing a tertiary course and to explore the kinds of doors that may open in the future.  

‘When I started studying at La Trobe Albury-Wodonga, I never dreamed I would be able to use my humble social work degree and work on the other side of the world.’

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