ACWA started over 45 years ago at a meeting in Sydney held on 16 April 1969. Attending the meeting were a number of community workers who had developed an interest in forming an association much like one they had heard about in London.

After a wide ranging discussion the attendees at the meeting decided unanimously to form an association to represent all community workers, regardless of their field of practice. From that day to this the association has existed to support and further the professionalism of those involved in community work. The organisation has strived to provide support to members, encourage exemplary practice in the field, promote quality education and ensure the community receives the best possible service from practitioners.

Over the course of our history ACWA's hard-working volunteers, members and staff have undertaken many projects to achieve our goals. One of ACWA's greatest challenges was in advocating for mandatory minimum standards to be included in the Community Services Training Package (CSTP) when it was introduced into the TAFE sector. The CSTP at the time had no minimum requirement for fieldwork: a requirement that ACWA has maintained is crucial for ensuring that graduates are able to put theory into practice, are appropriately supervised during their first experiences of practice and work-ready upon graduation. ACWA is now the nationally recognised body for accrediting community services courses and is instrumental in ensuring training standards are maintained.

Another major undertaking took place in 2000 when ACWA successfully lobbied the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, an action that resulted in welfare work being accredited 60 points in the Points for Skills Immigration Scheme, making welfare work equivalent to social work and psychology.

Today ACWA continues to support community workers, with the recent focus on addressing challenges such as the demand for community services outweighing the capacity of organisations and the current workforce. With increasing demand for staff, particularly in areas such as aged care, and increased public scrutiny on the quality of services ACWA undertook an extensive project to investigate means of regulating the profession. The result is the Community Workers Register, a registration initiative that brings community workers in line with other professions including social workers, nurses and occupational therapists who have access to regulation and the benefits regulation brings.

Over 400,000 people now work in the field of community and human services and the Association has grown alongside this workforce into an organisation of national importance; one that is vitally concerned with standards of practice and qualifications that reflect the demands of the community for qualified, ethical and experienced practitioners.

Along the way we have changed and evolved, but we have never changed our expectations of the hundreds of thousands of workers who make our sector so vital and important to the well-being of all Australians.