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Study social work today

New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing - Social Services

Want to improve the lives of vulnerable people within your community? This programme is the perfect starting point for a career in social services, where you’ll learn the fundamental skills needed to improve the lives of people who are dealing with violence and/or abuse.

120 (1.0 EFTS)
Start dates
February or July
Full-time for one year, part-time options available for domestic students.

Programme overview

In this programme, you’ll learn about how to work with people affected by abuse, violence/family violence, alcohol and other drugs, gambling, and crime. You’ll use models such as the Person-Centered model, and Te Whare Tapa Wha, to understand the needs of these people, the barriers they face in society, and how you can help them overcome these to achieve success.  

You’ll also discover and unpack the history of colonisation within te ao Māori and Pacifica contexts, and how this contributes to the barriers faced by people affected by abuse, violence and crime today. You’ll then learn the skills required to start reducing these barriers.

You’ll also gain a good understanding of national social service structures, funding models, and the roles and responsibilities of these services and their employees within Aotearoa.

Please note: While this programme is full-time, you are only required to be on-campus for 3 days a week. The remaining time can be spent on self-directed learning or work experience.


  • You’ll learn by doing, by completing at least 200 hours in work placements in a social services setting. This can be prearranged, or we can arrange a placement for you when you start the programme;
  • You’ll receive up-to-date knowledge about key legislation and policies, such as the Vulnerable Children’s Act, the Human Rights Act, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi;
  • You will learn more about yourself and others by examining different cultures, values, and attitudes around crime, violence and abuse;
  • You’ll learn key literacy skills which will enable you to be a highly skilled communicator and to create a trusted and open relationship with the people you work with, as well as their families/whānau, and community networks.
  • You’ll be taught by lecturers who are experienced in working in various social services within Aotearoa.

Where to from here?

If you want to continue on to further study upon successful completion of this programme, you could consider the Bachelor of Social Practice, where you’ll have the chance to become a registered social worker.

Admission requirements

Academic requirements

Please note: Future immunisations for COVID-19 may be required for all students in this programme. 

You will need to provide the following, at different points of your application process.

  1. Be at least 16 years old on the programme's start date;
  2. At least 4 years of secondary school education;
  3. At least one of the following academic requirements: 
    • 12 Level 1 NCEA credits in at least two subjects, or;
    • A pass in at least 2 School Certificate subjects, or;
    • A New Zealand Certificate in a relevant discipline at either Level 2 or Level 3, or equivalent 
  4. Consent to a Safety Check which meets the requirements of the Children Act 2014 (formerly known as the Vulnerable Children's Act) including: 
    • Provide two forms of verified ID and evidence of any name changes;
    • Consent to a Police vetting check;
    • Provide the names of two referees who Unitec can contact;
    • Pass a mandatory interview process;
    • Provide a Curriculum Vitae (CV) detailing a chronological summary of your work history for the past 5 years and the name of any professional organisations, licensing authorities and registration authorities that you have been, or are, a member of;
  5. Complete a self-declaration of criminal convictions and medical conditions form.

If you don’t meet the academic criteria above, we have a range of Foundation and Bridging Education programmes which will help you prepare for further academic study.  

English requirements

If English is not your first language you will also need at least 12 credits in English at NCEA level 1. 

If you don’t meet the English criteria above, we have a range of English Language programmes available, depending on your current level of ability. If you don’t meet these requirements, you may still apply under special or discretionary entrance.

For more information download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
Introduction to the Health and Wellbeing Sector (HCSP4401) 10.0 credits (0.083 EFTS) This course enable students to develop their preparedness for introductory work in the social, community and health service sector.
Knowledge for Practice (HCSP4402) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to develop an understanding of relevant knowledge, theory and models that relate to working with people in the social service, community and health workforce.
Working with People (HCSP4403) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course enables students to develop and apply their understanding of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and professional values and ethics when working alongside people with diverse needs and backgrounds.
Te Ao Hauora Maori (HCSP4404) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to relate the history of Māori as tangata whenua and demonstrate knowledge of person / whānau interconnectedness/ whakawhanaungatanga to their own role in the health and wellbeing setting.
Contemporary Issues in Health and Wellbeing (HCSP4405) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of the diverse issues experienced in contemporary society of Aotearoa New Zealand
Social Services Practicum A (HCSP4411) 20.0 credits (0.167 EFTS) This course will enable students to examine and apply skills, values and behaviours that are congruent with knowledge and theories relevant for entry to the social services workforce in a support level role
Social Services Practicum B (HCSP4412) 30.0 credits (0.25 EFTS) This course will enable students to further develop, apply and integrate skills, values and behaviours that are congruent with knowledge and theories relevant to the social services workforce in a support level role.