Why We Need Social Workers: Creating Support Networks for Kids in Care
As a Social Worker at Key Assets, Brandon O’Reilly plays a key role in this system.
Every child deserves to grow up feeling safe, supported and loved. For children in care, access to a network of supportive adults is critical to their wellbeing. As a Social Worker at Key Assets, Brandon O’Reilly plays a key role in this system. Compassionate and driven, Brandon is committed to building his career with the best motivations: to support kids in care and the adults who protect them.
Key agents for change
What inspires you to go to work every day? When Brandon O’Reilly asked himself this question, he realised he wasn’t satisfied with the answer - so he made a change. He reflected on his life and the moments that had felt meaningful. Brandon had a supportive upbringing, but was keenly aware that many other children weren’t given the same foundations. Over the years, he felt a calling to support the people who need it most.
“When a child has an adult who believes in them, it can make a big difference. I wasn’t great at school growing up, but I had a few teachers who believed in me. I’ll always remember the way they made me feel; more confident, more capable. When I made the decision to become a Social Worker, I wanted to instil those same feelings in the children I worked with.”
As a Social Worker at Key Assets, Brandon works within a key partnership framework to support children in care - including the Department for Child Protection Case Manager, School and Childcare workers, and Allied Health Professionals. His primary role in this interconnected system is to provide guidance and support to the carer.
“I help the carer learn and implement therapeutic care in order to help the child heal from trauma. Key Assets believes the carer is the key agent for change, so our partnership is very important. It’s not only about their ability to support a child, but also ensuring their own needs are met - strategies for self-care, building resilience, and so on.”
Brandon acknowledges the unique relationship formed between a carer and Social Worker. In his role, he’s often the only professional focused on the carer’s needs. Empathy and an open mind are prerequisites for handling these vulnerable situations, as well as an acceptance of imperfection.
“It can be easy to get bogged down in a situation when things don’t make sense. You have to realise that there is no perfect child protection system. You have to work with what you’ve got. You’ll learn as you go, and you’ll develop more resilience and perseverance than you’d believe.”
Building the foundation for a career in Social Work
Brandon started his career as a Graphic Designer in IT, but soon realised it didn’t offer him the fulfillment he desired. Searching for something with greater purpose, Brandon studied Behavioural Science at university, majoring in Disability - and he’s never looked back.
He went on to join a team of Allied Health professionals in the disability sector, working alongside Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists. Brandon knew he was on the right path, and set out to expand his skillset to establish a career.
Gaining a Certificate IV in Residential Care and a Master of Social Work, Brandon’s university placement led him to work in the Child Protection System. Over several years, Brandon supported teenage boys in what he describes as “tough” houses. Working with younger children wasn’t any easier, he says - the problems just looked different. Despite the challenging nature of the work, Brandon thrived, moving into a Senior Youth Worker role and mentoring care teams.
“I wanted to have that initial experience of being on the ground to gain a deeper understanding of the reality of care. It’s not the nicest place for a child to grow up. I knew then that foster care was where I wanted to go next. Being in a caring family situation is more likely to lead to better outcomes for the child, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Making an impact in a growing organisation
Since joining the Key Assets team, Brandon has had plenty of opportunities to deliver impact to people who need it most - and he’s seen the results in his professional and personal development, too. The flexibility and autonomy of his role allows Brandon to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
“Key Assets is quite small, but that’s one of the reasons it stood out to me. In a small organisation you’re often closer to the impact.
“Key Assets is quite small, but that’s one of the reasons it stood out to me. A small organisation is more agile, and you’re often closer to the impact. That’s been reinforced to me since I joined. You’re not just a number here, and neither is the carer. You can build better relationships with the families you work with.”
While Key Assets is on a path of growth, Brandon says he still feels the same level of care and connection in our organisation - and those values aren’t going anywhere.
Thank you, Brandon, for everything you bring to Key Assets. We are so grateful that you chose to grow your career and deliver care with us.