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Curtin student wins prestigious social work award

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Curtin graduate, Emma White, has won the Rural and Remote Practitioner Award at the 2010 Social Worker of the Year Awards.

Ms White, who graduated with Honours in Social Work in 1999, received the prestigious award at the awards ceremony, hosted by Curtin University, last night.

The experienced social worker, who has been working for the Department for Child Protection in Kununurra for two years, said she was humbled and honoured to receive the award.

“When you work in a rural area, you never work alone, it’s a collective effort, so this award celebrates and recognises all my amazing colleagues that I work with too,” Ms White said.

“I’d like to thank everyone in the Kimberley community for letting us into their lives and to the Department for Child Protection for providing me with workplace flexibility in a job that I love.”

Curtin’s Associate Professor Fran Crawford, who submitted the award nomination, said Ms White demonstrated a remarkable ability to make the most of the limited resources available in rural Western Australia, while making a positive contribution to the lives of many people living in remote communities.

“At the beginning of 2009 Emma faced a crisis situation with 26 positions in the Department being vacant. By becoming actively involved with the local community and reinforcing a positive image of the Department, she was able to successfully fill all positions, and also increase the proportion of Aboriginal staff to 50 per cent in the process,” Professor Crawford said.

Dr Angela Fielding, Head of Social Work at the School of Occupational Therapy, said Curtin was proud of Ms White’s outstanding achievements. She also congratulated three other Curtin Social Work graduates who were nominated as finalists for the awards including Valda Duffield, Jane Anne Cochrane and Tracey Nicolson.

The annual Social Worker of the Year Awards celebrates the achievements and commitment of social workers, whose job is often unrecognised by the community. They focus on the practice of social work and acknowledge its diversity, scope and potential.

Other awards presented on the night were:
• Social Worker of the Year – Glenda Kickett, Centrecare’s Djooraminda branch, Lockridge
• The Rising Star Award – Sophie Heal, Wanslea, Scarborough
• Agent of Change Award – Julie McKenzie, the Department for Child Protection, Fremantle
• Head, Heart and Hands Award – Joanne Delaney, Princess Margaret Hospital, Subiaco
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award – Glenda Kickett

The Social Worker of the Year winner received $4500, a trophy, and an awards certificate. The category award winners all received $1500 and an awards certificate.

Major sponsors of the Awards include GESB, the Department for Child Protection, KPMG Australia, Richmond Fellowship WA and Edith Cowan University.

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