Krystal Ingram is a final year Bachelor of Social Work student from Western Sydney University. She is completing her first placement at Public Interest Advocacy Centre, specifically in the Homeless Persons Legal Service.
My experience so far as been extremely positive. When I applied for the cadetship I was intimated by the thought of working in a legal setting. So, naturally, I applied for the community legal centre cadetship to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
As a social worker, especially a student, working in a legal setting can be challenging. Even so far, it’s allowed me to challenge myself in understanding how to support clients in an integrated practice.
The most interesting aspect of PIAC to me is how they are challenging the system by taking a grassroots approach with their StreetCare program. As a social worker I value the knowledge and experience of individuals with lived experience of homelessness. It’s awesome to see a big organisation as PIAC involve themselves in such a project.
I think what I most look forward to in my cadetship is further understanding the legal concerns facing individuals with lived experience of homelessness. When I finish my degree I would love the opportunity to work in a setting where they work with clients with lived experience of homelessness. I look forward to collaborating further with people who are experiencing homelessness and refining my skills as a future social worker out in the field.
The reason why I wanted to join community legal centres is I feel social workers don’t get enough legal training. Clients are often presenting with complex problems, often intertwined with legal concerns. This reiterates to me the importance of an integrated and why social workers are important in that integrated practice.
I look forward to being able to go out to the clinics that Homeless Persons Legal Service does when I stop working from home. So far, it’s been a really positive experience, and I look forward to learning more along the way.
Charmaine Jones is the project officer for StreetCare, Public Interest Advocacy Centre's Homeless Persons Legal Service’s consumer advisory committee. The role focuses on supporting a team of people with lived experiences of homelessness to be effective advocates and advisors to government. Charmaine is supervising Krystal during her cadetship.
Since we’ve had social work students, including through the First Nations Cadetship Program, we’ve been trying to develop an service model with legal and socio integration. As anyone who’s worked in any community setting will understand, people don’t suffer legal issues in isolation, often there are complex mechanisms at play at different levels in their lives. The cadetship I think is a fabulous opportunity. It would be great to see more social workers in a legal setting, so it’s been really fabulous having Krystal here.
Alongside another social work student, we’ve had Krystal working with clients that have been referred by the lawyers for various reasons. That might be help with Centrelink, housing applications, finding a medical service, or any number of the kind of social issues that people might arise.
We’ve been really happy to have Krystal here with us, and I think the cadetship is a great program. It’d be great to see it continue year after year.