Social work is a practice-based profession that facilitates social change and growth for people in all stages of life. It helps to build social cohesion, bridge the gaps between people and social systems and encourages people to feel empowered in their lives. The Veteran Wellbeing Officers (Social Worker) engage with people and social structures to address life changes and enhance well-being.
Social work is broad and diverse but most commonly works in a dual capacity, assisting with and improving well-being while also engaging with systems or structures that can impact well-being. For a veteran, a social structure can be the Department of Veteran Affairs, Centrelink, or other organisations like My Aged Care. These institutions often have complex and rigid ways of working and accessing them, which can cause unnecessary trauma for the veteran.
In general, navigating the social systems of the Government can be challenging. Veterans can be at a disadvantage due to social, emotional or physical attributes that have been related to service and require additional support. A Social Worker can act as an advocate for a veteran when they are trying to navigate these systems and when they are trying to improve their quality of life overall.
Brian is an 80-year-old Vietnam Veteran who lives with his wife. He holds a DVA Gold Card. He recently had a bilateral hip placement and his wife is in recovery from spinal surgery. Brian was referred to a Veteran Wellbeing Officer, via his CVC assessment as he reported having issues with ‘daily living tasks’ like housework, and garden maintenance post-surgery.
A Veteran Wellbeing Officer reached out to Brian and gained his consent to advocate on his behalf with the following agencies; Veteran Home Care and My Aged Care.
The Veteran Wellbeing Officer arranged for assessments with Veteran Home Care for domestic duties and for an assessment with an Occupational Therapist from My Aged Care.
Through the advocacy of the Veteran Wellbeing Officer Brian and his wife were able to access “as needed” domestic assistance for home duties and garden maintenance. The Veteran Wellbeing Officer was also able to help coordinate the Occupational Therapy functional assessment for aids and home modifications.
Brian reported that the support of the Veteran Wellbeing Officer had helped to reduce the physical and emotional stress of organising assistance for daily living tasks and that having a Veteran Wellbeing Officer kept him informed about the progress of his case. He expressed that he felt more in control of his own well-being and that he felt like an active participant in the choices around his care.
Barry is a 65-year-old veteran, who lives alone after his wife passed away. During a planning session with his Veteran Wellbeing Officer, it was identified that Barry would like to increase his social interactions and connectedness to his community. The Veteran Wellbeing Officer asked questions to help identify Barry’s interests. The Veteran Wellbeing Officer researched groups, meetups and opportunities within his local area.
Barry was present with the finding of the research and chose a group that meets fortnightly in his local area. In this group, Barry has met and become friends with another man who is in a similar situation, veteran and his wife have passed away, and they meet on alternate fortnights to maintain their companionship.
Barry has reported back to his Veteran Wellbeing Officer that he has improved his well-being, increased his motivation, reduced his feeling of isolation, and increased his self-esteem.
Veterans who hold at a minimum a White Card from the Department Of Veterans Affairs are able to access the support of a Veteran Wellbeing Officer (Social Worker) to assist them.