Tom plants the seeds for sustainable change

It was a meandering journey through south-east Asia after secondary school that set Tom Clifton on his path to social work.  

“The trip highlighted social injustice and sparked my interest in community development,” Tom says. “When I returned to Australia, I looked at the pathways that could help me address inequality, and social work seemed to be the right choice.”  

Tom, now 25, completed a Bachelor of Human Services and Master of Social Work at Latrobe University, and this year joined the Allied Health Early Graduate Program at Monash Health. He is one of six graduate social workers.  

His first rotation is at Kingston Centre, where he works with neurological rehabilitation patients. His work includes supporting people with new and permanent disabilities until they reach their optimal recovery. 

“I work closely with the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists, and support people in linking with the NDIS,” he says. “It’s very rewarding developing rapport with people and seeing them have positive interactions during a tough time.” 

Tom says he is quickly learning the important role of social workers in hospital settings.  

“When a person comes in for a physical illness, we often find that social determinants have played a key role in their health and their likelihood of re-presenting to hospital,” he says. “I like being able to assist, even if it’s just for a short time, and plant the seeds for sustainable change in their lives that will improve their health and their situation.” 

Tom is looking forward to experiencing fast-paced settings in rotations in Emergency and Intensive Care and would ultimately like to work in a crisis team.  

“One bonus of the graduate program is that I can experience different areas and have lots of opportunities. We’re very well supported, and I know that, even across disciplines, it’s fine to tap a colleague on the shoulder to ask questions,” he says. 

This profile is part of a series spotlighting our Allied Health Early Graduate Program. We wish them all the best for their time with Monash Health.

If you would like to join the team at Monash Health, take a look at our current vacancies on the Careers page.