Thank you to the unsung heroes helping our most vulnerable

15 MARCH 2022

Thank you to the unsung heroes helping our most vulnerable

On World Social Work Day on Tuesday 15 March, two students and an academic from the Charles Sturt School of Social Work and Arts recount why they wanted to dedicate their lives to helping people.

Leetika – a First Nations woman from Wellington

It was her own journey and the support she received from social workers during her upbringing that led to Ms Leetika Carr wanting to follow in those footsteps and give back to others.

Leetika, a First Nations woman from Wellington in central west NSW, moved to Forster with her family when she was four and lived there until she graduated from Great Lakes Tuncurry senior campus when she was 18.

She is a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work in the Charles Sturt School of Social Work and Arts in Port Macquarie.

Leetika said she always wanted to pursue social work as a career.

“I always wanted to study social work as my own upbringing drove my passion for helping others,” Leetika said.

“As a young First Nations woman who grew up with a lot of support from social workers it really showed me the positive outcomes that can occur through social work.”

Leetika said social workers assist with providing positive change.

“A social workers’ role is to provide social change within the community or an individual’s life.”

Leetika believes World Social Work Day is more than acknowledging those working in the industry.

“World Social Work Day recognises the work and achievements of social workers along with raising awareness of the issues they have to tackle every day,” she said.

Leetika is passionate to use her degree to help First Nations peoples.

“As a First Nations woman I want to join a field relating to First Nations peoples, whether that be with youth or in child protection, school social work or juvenile work,” she said.

Chloe – a human rights advocate from Werris Creek

Wanting to provide vulnerable people with a voice, to overcome obstacles, led to a career path in social work for Ms Chloe Symington.

Chloe grew up with four siblings in a small town near Tamworth in NSW called Werris Creek. She is a first-year student studying a Bachelor of Social Work in the Charles Sturt School of Social Work and Arts in Port Macquarie.

Chloe was keen to study social work as she wanted to expand her knowledge and better understand the inequality and social justice issues in the world.

“I wanted a career where I can be the voice some people may not have - I want to promote human rights and wellbeing,” Chloe said.

Chloe believes there is no one way of describing the role of a social worker in today’s world.

“Social workers help people and communities in many different ways, such as counselling, providing information or redirecting them to services that may be helpful.”

Chloe feels World Social Worker Day encourages important conversations that need to happen.

“This day forces the community to discuss social injustices and share their visions for change.”

Chloe is considering a career in child protection or mental health upon completion of her studies but is open to other possibilities.

“There are many different fields in social work which I look forward to exploring during this degree.”

Chloe is pursuing opportunities to act as a disability support worker within the Port Macquarie area alongside her studies.

Katrina – the academic

Ms Katrina Gersbach is a Lecturer in Social Work and Human Services in the School of Social Work and Arts at Charles Sturt Dubbo and lives and works on Wiradjuri country in Wellington NSW.

She has extensive education and experience in the discipline of social work has completed a Graduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, along with a Master of Education through Charles Sturt.

Prior to her appointment at Charles Sturt Katrina worked as a youth worker, social worker in child protection and child welfare, and as a sexual assault counsellor.

She felt a natural synergy with the field of social work.

“I was drawn to this field as I felt I had many skills required for working with and alongside people.”

Katrina feels the Charles Sturt Bachelor of Social Work has increased in popularity due to the difficult and uncertain times we are living in.

“The increase in enrolments may be related to the human instinct to want to help, to want to make a difference, or to be the change that you want to see within the world,” Katrina said.

Enrolments in the Charles Sturt Bachelor of Social Work course have increased 37% since 2016.

Katrina feels that at the heart of social work today is an appreciation for the inherent dignity of humanity.

“As social workers, we are dedicated to achieving social justice, inclusion and wellbeing.”

Katrina believes World Social Work Day is an opportunity to consider the world we are living in.

“It allows us to consider what we would like the world to look like, for everyone.”

Katrina is currently enrolled in a Graduate Certificate in Arts and Social Science Research through the Charles Sturt School of Education and will commence a PhD in 2023.


Media Note:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Leetika Carr, Chloe Symington or Katrina Gersbach, please contact Trease Clarke at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0409 741 789 or via

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Dubbo Port Macquarie Charles Sturt University Indigenous Society and Community