Social Work

The social work profession is committed to the pursuit and maintenance of human well-being. Social work aims to maximise the development of human potential and the fulfilment of human needs, through an equal commitment to:

  • Working with and enabling people to achieve the best possible levels of personal and social well-being
  • Working to achieve social justice through social development and social change (Australian Association of Social Workers code of Ethics, 1999)

Social workers are qualified professionals who work in conjunction with the multidisciplinary team to develop care plans appropriate to patients’ individual needs.


We work with patients, families and the multidisciplinary team to provide a comprehensive service which includes:

  • Psychosocial assessment
  • Discharge planning
  • Adjustment to Illness and hospitalisation
  • Counselling
  • Facilitation of Family Meetings
  • Provide relevant information and education
  • Advocacy
  • Carer support
  • Crisis intervention
  • Group Work
  • Oncology Social Work
  • Drug and alcohol Social Work Service


There is no post graduate or specialty courses currently offered



The Social work Department provides clinical placements for qualifying social work students. The Department has a formal arrangement with The University of Melbourne and La Trobe University Bundoora. Placements are arranged through university field placement officers.

University affiliations

The Social Work Department offers an innovative student program designed to provide a stimulating and supportive environment for learning and development. The Department is affiliated with the Social Work Department, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, where a formal link was established in 1992. Placements are also offered to the School of Social work and Social Policy, LaTrobe University.

The student unit has provided an average of 10 placements per year since 1992. Placements are offered to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Fieldwork placements are undertaken across all campuses in a variety of specialities (link):

  • General & Special Medicine & Surgery
  • Cancer Services & Palliative Care
  • Aged Care & Rehabilitation
  • Addiction Medicine

An enriched learning environment is offered by utilising the expertise within the department & organisation to expose students to the Social Work role in health care.


The vision of Social Work at St Vincent’ s Hospital Melbourne (STV) is to develop a research agenda which is informed by our day to day work, by opportunities and responsibilities arising out of the policy and funding environment, by organisational strategic directions and by professional priorities.

To achieve our vision we encourage, support and resource staff to identify and act on opportunities. We also actively partner with others.

Research, improvement and innovation have become an integral part of our departmental culture – both in Social work and in the AHLO Program.

National collaborations:

  • Monash University, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Department of Cancer Experiences and Nursing Research
  • University of Melbourne, School of Social work
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community control Organisation (VACCHO)
  • University of Melbourne, Onernda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, Centre for Health and society, Melbourne School of Population and Global health
  • Cancer Council of Victoria

Current projects and publications

  • 2015 Can Guided viewing of Available Art Increase the engagement of Inpatients Living with Dementia? St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM) Research endowment Fund (REF), J Willis, D Moss, C Lethborg, M Silk
  • 2015 A Literature Review into the Benefits of allied Health Leadership Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria Grant L Joubert, S Posenelli, F McKinnon, R Boyce
  • 2015 Working Together Health and Wellbeing in Cancer Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Koolin Balit
  • care for Aboriginal People Fund S Posenelli, C Lethborg, M Gallagher, Winters
  • 2015 Can the Psychsocial needs of Cancer Patients of all languages be Better – Identified Using iPad Technology? St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM) SVHM Research Endowment Fund (REF) C Lethborg, S Posenelli
  • 2015 Development of the SVHM Aboriginal Health Unit Model St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) Mission – Aboriginal Health Project Grant S Posenelli
  • 2015 Elder Abuse Hospital Collaborative Department of Health and Human Services Victoria Development Grant M O’Brien, S Posenelli
  • 2015 Validation of the Supportive Care needs Survey – Indigenous Patients (SCNA-IP) Menzies School of Health Research Funded, C Lethborg, S Posenelli, F Halatanu, M Collins
  • 2015 Establishing a Health Justice Partnership Inclusive Health Innovations Fund Grant, St Vincent’s Health

Recent Publications

Lethborg C, Kissane D W (2015), The family Perspective, in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine Fifth Edition, Nathan Cherny, Marie Fallon, Stein Kaasa, Russell K. Portenoy, and David C.Currow Eds, Oxford University Text, New York, Ch 17.6.

Lethborg C, Harms L (2015), Meaning-Making Approaches to Social work Practice in Oncology in handbook of Oncology Social Work, Psychosocial Care for People with cancer, Edited by Grace Christ, Carolyn Messner, and Lynn Behar, Oxford University Press, New York, 351-356.


St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

Building C - Healy Wing, Level 1

Fitzroy, VIC, 3065

Tel: (03) 9231 3436

Fax: (03) 9231 3439

Hours: 8.30 – 5.00

Monday – Friday

St Georges

283 Cotham Road

Kew, VIC, 3101

Tel: (03) 9816 0444

Fax: (03) 9817 5323

Hours: 8.30 – 5.00

Monday – Friday

Caritas Christi

104 Studley Park Road

Kew, VIC, 3101

Tel: (03) 9853 2344

Fax: (03) 9853 1509

Hours: 8.30 – 5.00

Monday – Friday Monday – Friday Tuesday - Friday