News + Views

Integrated practice central to student placements

It has been a busy semester one for students with placements at Youthlaw and the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women (LACW).

The CIJ and it’s co-located partners provide RMIT law and social work students with invaluable practical experiences to the delivery of multidisciplinary legal services, processes of law reform, and an understanding of the social context of the law. This equips them to use their legal and social work training to advocate for and achieve change. The students have shared their personal growth and insights in their reflections on their time during placement. Their journey is a testament to the transformative power of practical experience and collaboration.

LACW Placements  Testimonials  

Holly, Nikki and Hayley LACW placement students

“My experience at LACW has been positive. I have felt well supported and enjoyed the opportunity to observe, work alongside and reflect with practitioners with a range of professional backgrounds and approaches. The most significant learning has been the importance of trauma-informed practice. At LACW, this is evident in the practice setting, use of assessments, client interactions and in work with other services and care teams. I have appreciated how LACW case management is genuinely client-led, and upholds choice, control and self-determination within an oppressive legal setting. There is a focus on removing barriers and processes that retraumatise vulnerable clients.  

I have learnt a lot at LACW, both specific to the integrated practice setting and general case management. I had some previous knowledge of the legal system as I had attended court as a support person and have an interest in anti-carceral feminism, however I now have a much deeper understanding of bail applications, CLCs and therapeutic courts. Attending mainstream magistrates court, Koori Court and NJC with different case managers enabled me to hear a range of perspectives and reflect on the intentions and applications of different courts. 

  As LACW is a state wide service I have researched many different services and have a basic understanding of housing, family violence and various health service referral pathways. The human services are complex, siloed and often feel impenetrable. The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. While I appreciate that I will get a better grasp of these systems with time, I also think it has been useful to experience how overwhelming it can be. It has illustrated the importance of case coordination and collaboration within the sector.  

A key skill I have developed at LACW is how to translate information across different contexts and to service different functions. Specifically, adapting language for clients, the courts, care teams and other service providers. Knowing what and how much information to share and how to phrase things for different purposes while centring the clients’ needs, is something I will continue to develop as I gain a deeper understanding of various services and settings.”

Hayley Brandon, MSW, Field Education 1 


“My placement at LACW has been challenging and rewarding. I have had the opportunity to experience working in an integrated practice, as well as collaborating with and getting to know a team of students, colleagues, clients, and other organisations that support LACW’s clients.  

Completing the learning plan has been a good opportunity to familiarise myself with the legislative, ethical, and professional requirements of social work, as well as to reflect and consolidate the knowledge and skills I have been developing while on placement. My field educator and supervisor have been very supportive and have led by providing invaluable suggestions, feedback, reflections, and information, as well as moral support and encouragement.

 Nikki Butcher, MSW, Field Education 1 


“Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on placement at LACW. I have helped organise a fundraiser, learnt about integrated practice, engaged with program participants and other organisations, and have felt supported in doing so.  

LACW’s trauma-informed approach to their service has allowed me to understand that clients present with a range of intersecting issues that have led them to be engaging with LACW. I have been able to attend court and professional development seminars surrounding things that I have not been privy to in the past. Through the SupPORT Pathways Project, I have learnt how important sport and community is for people, and I think this is something that I would be keen to engage with and work in during my future social work career.  

I have also learnt many things about myself. Supervision for me is invaluable and I have discovered my own limitations and the boundaries I may need to be better at implementing when I start practicing social work.  

 All in all, I would highly recommend LACW and the SupPORT Pathways Program for placement students. I have felt very welcome and the learnings I will take away from this organisation will help me in my future work. Thank you! 

 Holly Cootee, MSW, Field Education 2 


YouthLaw Placements  Testimonials  

Tamika Massey – Master of Social Work, commenced placement with Youthlaw in January, 2024. She is currently completing a direct service placement. This includes working within the Friday Fines Clinic, as well as supporting clients seeking support for criminal matters and when required, other legal supports. She has a specific interest in youth justice, a field of practice she hopes to enter after graduation.  

 “Greetings! I’m Tamika, currently completing my final placement of my Masters of Social Work at Youthlaw. I have previous experience working within the youth mental health space, with this being my first experience working within a community legal setting. Collaborating with my fellow social work students has been enriching, fostering a space for meaningful reflection and growth. Through this journey, I’ve come to firmly believe in the power of Integrated Practice, recognising its indispensable contribution to fostering better outcomes for the youth accessing Youthlaw services. During my placement, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the transformative impact of having a social worker present during court proceedings. Witnessing the reduction in anxiety and the enhanced overall experience of young individuals underscores the significance of our role in this setting. Furthermore, my involvement in the Friday Fines Clinic has been incredibly rewarding. Employing a social work approach, we’ve successfully engaged clients with complex needs, as well as those who may be harder to reach. It’s a testament to the effectiveness of a holistic approach in addressing multifaceted challenges. I’m really looking forward to what the second half of my placement will bring and the opportunities to contribute to the further development of integrated practice at Youthlaw that will arise.


Jack Metcalfe – Bachelor of Social Work, commenced placement with Youthlaw in February 2024. He is currently completing a project placement with Youthlaw, with a focus on strengthening integrated practice across the organisation. He has an interest in working with young people, specifically youth justice or a similar field of practice after graduation. 


“Hello, my name is Jack and I’m currently undertaking my second placement for my Master of Social Work. Having previously completed a Bachelor of Criminology, it has been fascinating to see my interests of legal issues and social work combined at my Youthlaw placement. As my placement is project focused, I have been learning about the workings and practice of integrated legal and social work settings, which has made clear the invaluable role that integrated practice settings have in providing holistic support to clients with intersecting legal and social support needs. Furthermore, I have observed that the integrated setting provides a great opportunity for the sharing of knowledge between professions, allowing both social workers and lawyers to learn from one another to strengthen their ability to support clients. I am eager to continue learning about integrated practice settings and social work’s role within them as I continue my placement.”