How is social work supervision being practiced in Australia?

Ms Tracey  Harris1, Dr Maddy Slattery1, Dr Jane Fowler1

1Griffith University, Meadowbrook, Australia

Professional supervision is an important part of the social work profession. It provides an opportunity for supervisees to reflect on their practice, it assists with their ongoing growth and development as a professional and helps to reduce stress and burnout in the workplace. Despite the amount of research undertaken on professional supervision globally, there remains a gap in the literature about how professional supervision is currently being practiced in Australia.  This presentation provides the key findings of an exploratory cross-sectional mixed method study of 231 supervisors, 241 supervisees and 17 key social work supervision leaders in Australia. Supervisors and supervisees completed an online survey which asked about their experience of supervision. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with social work supervision leaders to obtain more in-depth information about the practice of professional supervision.

Findings from the research indicated that the majority of supervisees and supervisors were receiving supervision and more than half perceived their supervision as being effective. The majority believed supervisors needed to be assessed or evaluated regularly to ensure their supervision remained effective. The majority of supervisors and supervisees also believed that supervisors need to attend training prior to commencing in their supervisory role.  Specific skills, knowledge and attributes of effective supervisors were identified. The findings from this research have resulted in the development of a Supervisor Capability and Review Framework (SCaRF) for social work supervisors that can be used both in Australia and internationally.


Tracey Harris is the Executive Director of Amovita International and a PhD candidate with Griffith University undertaking research in supervision and leadership. Tracey has worked in the human services and corporate sectors specialising in organisational and business excellence, leadership and performance for over 25 years.  Maddy Slattery is a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer with Griffith University in the School of Human Services and Social Work.

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