Caboolture graduate uses degree to help chronically ill


USC graduate Maddison Schuster at her workplace at Caloundra

New USC graduate Maddison Schuster is now among the hundreds of Sunshine Coast social workers striving to help chronically ill older people access support services, particularly in the age of COVID-19 restrictions.

While the changes to society could not have been anticipated when the Caboolture resident completed university on campus at Sippy Downs last year, she said the Bachelor of Social Work had given her the knowledge and practical experience to apply in any context.

“I am working part-time at Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service in the Community Chronic Conditions Service at Caloundra,” said the 23-year-old.

“This involves working mostly with people over the age of 65 who have chronic conditions and supporting them to safely manage in the community, using a multidisciplinary team approach.

“As a social worker, I help people navigate the aged care system by linking them to services such as counselling for grief, loss and their health condition, support for carers, and housing or financial support.

“I help provide short-term case management, future care planning and group work through a workshop on managing anxiety.

“I really enjoy advocating for people to get the support they need to function and manage in their home and in the community.”

Maddison, who attended St Columban’s College and completed a TAFE certificate in community services, said she found it especially rewarding to advocate for change for vulnerable people in the community.

“My USC study helped me learn the theory I needed to base my practice framework. It also allowed me to gain practical experience through my placement,” she said.

“One of the highlights of my degree was travelling to rural Aboriginal communities and completing an evaluation report of a project that aimed to introduce business opportunities through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“I have always been passionate about working with different cultures and was able to give voice to the experiences of people living in Aboriginal communities.”

Maddison follows her sister Summer O’Brien into the profession.

Summer, who completed a Bachelor of Social Work at USC Sunshine Coast in 2018, is now a specialist at a regional service working to stop domestic violence and injustice.

QTAC applications are open to study at USC in Semester 2 this year. For more information about studying at USC, go to

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