Case study: Student research supports Christchurch agencies

Ara students participating in a new project bring research into work placements and help Christchurch's frontline social work agencies to be at the cutting edge of practice.

"We were very lucky to be part of the project," Presbyterian Support's Sue Quinn says. "This year we have two more students doing research-based placements with us – that's how much we valued it."

As part of the social work practicum, the student conducted a literature review, organised staff hui and helped create tools and resources for Presbyterian Support to develop regional strategies for community engagement.

During Ara's Research Month, Dr Jane Maidment Senior Lecturer in Social Work will present the joint Ara and University of Canterbury project developed to strengthen research capability in the industry.

"Social work is about clinical practice but also social policy and research. Social workers do all three aspects but traditionally we have focussed on direct practice," Maidment says.

This project, funded by AKO Aoteroa, brings tertiary education resources and industry closer together and is now in its second stage. This new model of collaborative and practical research strengthens the knowledge base of students and practitioners.

Research is essential to inform best practice yet social agencies contend with a lack of time and confidence in conducting effective research.

According to the project's initial report published in Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, research has not been considered core business in the sector.

Nine students were involved and participated in 12 week projects for organisations like Alzheimers Canterbury, Lifeline and Presbyterian Support. Dr Jane Maidment introduced a series of research presentations from the Department of Nursing & Human Services.