Staff profile,

Changing lives with social work. His and others

When Darren Fielden was arranging for trucks to leave their depot filled with the right packages and going to the right destination, there was always something else in the back of his mind.

Darren was thinking about challenging himself and maybe heading in a different direction in his own life.

Several years later, Darren now in his late 40’s is in the home straight of a journey that has taken him from transport logistics and administration to a new career as a social worker.

“I’d been working in transport all of my working life, but I’d always wanted to go to university. No one in my family had been and now I’m the first to have gone and come out with a degree and soon to have a Masters,” Darren said.

Darren is currently finishing his final placement at Latrobe Regional Health (LRH) as part of his Masters study to become a social worker.

“I finished high school at Year 10 and just assumed that I’d never be able to go to uni but I came across the ‘FAST’ Course at Federation Uni which was a one semester bridging program which allowed me to enter an undergraduate course and now a Masters,” Darren said.

The Masters program has required Darren to participate in 1000 hours of supervised placement which has seen him work alongside the LRH Social Work team under the leadership of Mark Griffiths.

“Social Work and welfare work has generally always attracted the mature age student.

“With maturity, comes a realisation that there is more going on in our lives than we think and we are not in control. We have one chance to live the life we were meant to live. You will know this calling when you become thrilled with the challenge of social welfare work, the challenge to serve others,” Mark said.

Coming into the profession as a more mature person has helped Darren understand some of the challenges that social workers can face on a day-to-day basis.

“Being a bit older, a bit more mature, you can bring more experience with you, that certainly helps. Health workers in general but social workers in particular, do face some behaviours and other people’s life stories that can be challenging.

“Being older, allows you to ‘compartmentalise’ a few things which allows me to attend to the person in front of me, but not necessarily allow it to dominate the rest of my day.”

Darren says while he is looking forward to finishing his studies, he is also excited about commencing his new career as a social worker.

“I’ve loved my experience here at LRH, working with the Social Work team. There is so much variety, different issues, different wards, it’s very complex. But I’m only at the beginning really. There’s a lot to learn still, assessments, interventions, understanding services but I’m really excited to see where the journey takes me,”