When Lisette D’Souza was thinking about her future, she knew she wanted to get to work as soon as possible at making a positive impact. Lisette shares how a supportive learning environment and extensive community placements have led to her following her passion in social work long before she graduates.
A natural nurturer fighting inequality
“With a nurse for a mum and older sisters in social work, you could say I was raised in a family of carers. Social work appealed to me because it offers advocacy and support for people who experience disadvantage and inequality. Being a woman of colour, experiencing prejudice and inequality as part of my own lived experience helps inform my understanding and my practice.
I came to VU straight from school and got a scholarship, which helped with uni expenses like a laptop, software and stationery.”
The course’s 1000 hours of industry placements are so valuable – it’s the best way to learn. My latest placement is in a large secondary school. When lockdown hit after the first week, the school and uni both adapted quickly to remote learning.
"Having social workers in schools is relatively new. We work together with counsellors and psychologists. I’ve sat in wellbeing sessions and school webinars and learnt about policy, while helping kids with anxiety during COVID-19. I’ve worked with out-of-home care kids, facilitating in small group workshops.”
VU Block Model benefits
“I’ve loved studying under the VU Block Model. It means we complete one unit every four weeks so it’s easier to focus. It’s also given me more time to work in my retail job and volunteering with the VU Vollies. The smaller classes allow better connections and really trusting, respectful discussions.”
Advice for the next generation
“The advice I’d give my 17-year-old self and others is that your ATAR doesn’t matter in the real world. I know Year 12s have worked so hard towards this, but you’ll never meet all your expectations in life at once. If you strive towards what’s truly important to you, you’ll find happiness.
I feel in this time and space right now – with so many problems and suffering around us – this is where I’m most needed, and I’m so proud to be starting my career in social work.”