Studying social work in Australia: how Dana is giving back

A few years ago, Dana Maricic migrated from Croatia to Australia. Part of her new life was studying social work in Australia – in regional Australia, to be precise. She had her sights set on a bachelor’s degree at Charles Sturt University – even though she didn’t know much English when she first arrived!

Dana Maricic CSU profile pic

Graduating in 2018, Dana is now keen to put her skills to good use and help other migrants and refugees settle in Australia – and find their own path. We sat down with Dana to discuss how she has been inspired to change the game.

What was it like moving to a new country – and studying social work in Australia?

“It was a total culture shock when I moved to Australia. I was in an unfamiliar environment, didn’t know English, and only had my parents and sister around for support. I felt very isolated, especially when it came to making friends. You don’t even know what help is available because you don’t know how to ask.”

 “When I started study in regional Australia, I was so pleased to find myself in a very supportive environment. The lecturers were so welcoming and understanding of the language barriers I still had. They also understood that while I had the desire to complete a qualification, I also need to work full-time. Charles Sturt University was very accommodating of that, and was the reason I was able to finish my degree.”

What advice would you give to people considering studying social work in Australia?

“I have three things that I would recommend to anyone who finds themselves moving to another country.

“Firstly, try to keep a positive outlook. Give yourself time to adjust and understand the environment that you’re in. Even if hardship has led you to this point, this is a second chance, so give it your best shot.

“Secondly, reach out to those around you. You don’t have to go through the experience alone; there is a lot of support available. Even though I couldn’t communicate very well in English when I first started my course, I had the help of Charles Sturt interpreters, counsellors and support groups. They helped me adjust to Australian life, so I could make the most of this new journey.

“And thirdly, say yes to every opportunity. Rather than turning down chances that present themselves, grab them at every corner, because you never know where it may lead you.”

How do you want to change the game when you graduate?

“I would like to do social work in a refugee community where I can share my experiences and assist people as they adjust into a new lifestyle. I can show them what they need to do, how to access language or migrant support services and assist with the transition to work or study.

“Specifically, I’d like to work with migrant women. There are many issues surrounding females in particular, such as domestic violence, that have been neglected for a long time. The opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is a fantastic outcome from studying this degree. I also hope to come back to Charles Sturt and complete a master’s degree in social work or human services.

Do you want to make a difference?

At Charles Sturt University, we have a range of degrees in social work and human services that can put you on track to making a difference to your community. Whether you want to work with refugees, help disadvantaged communities, or advocate for groups too often left out of the conversation, you can shape the future of social work with a degree from Charles Sturt. And if you’re looking to come and study in regional Australia, we can’t wait to welcome you to our university.

How are you going to change the game?

When you graduate from Charles Sturt University, you’re brilliantly positioned to make your mark in your career. After all, we’re the number one uni in Australia for grads getting jobs. So contact us and we’ll help you start your career now.