Social work education in Aotearoa New Zealand: A difficult journey for student caregivers


  • Kirsten Hulme-Moir Te Whatu Ora, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Liz Beddoe University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Allyson Davys University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Allen Bartley University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand


Social work, students, caregivers, wellbeing, placement, injustice


Introduction:  Emerging research suggests that students who care for children, the sick, disabled or the elderly are a marginalised group in social work education.  A recent study explored how the wellbeing of 16 female social work student caregivers was impacted by their engagement in tertiary studies and considered the factors that motivated and sustained these students on their educational journey.

Methods: From a mixed method study investigating the social and financial impacts of study on the wellbeing of social work students in Aotearoa New Zealand, data were extracted relating to the needs and experiences of social work students and recent graduates who are also caregivers. Data from semi structured interviews were thematically analysed to produce an overarching theme and three key themes.

Findings: Findings reveal that for some caregivers, studying social work was a journey that exacted considerable sacrifice to their personal wellbeing. Findings also point to the remarkable capacity student caregivers had to overcome adversity, and even thrive through their experiences by drawing on their collective strengths and sense of purpose.  

Conclusion: This research highlights the responsibility that social work education providers and governing bodies have to understand and respond to the inequities that are faced by students who are caregivers. Students themselves should be prepared for the significant personal and financial costs of their education, particularly with regard to field placement.

Author Biography

Liz Beddoe, University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand

Associate Professor


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How to Cite

Hulme-Moir, K., Beddoe, L., Davys, A., & Bartley, A. (2022). Social work education in Aotearoa New Zealand: A difficult journey for student caregivers. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(4), 33–46. Retrieved from



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