Re-imagining social democracy, social work and the future

I recently had the privilege of attending the 13th Conference of the European Sociological Association in Athens, Greece. At the end of this trip, as we waited for a ride to the airport and the journey home, a rag-tag group of homeless families were sleeping rough in a dusty park behind the bus stop. A frail little girl, maybe four or five, in a torn dress, with matted hair, skin sores and blackened teeth stretched out her tiny arm for some loose change – a studied look of hopelessness in her empty eyes. I have seen this look before – in the intense gaze, both vacant and pleading, of malnourished street children in East Africa and in the teeming cities of India.

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Who is looking at you? Social media, the new assessment tool

A guest post by Eileen Joy (PhD candidate, University of Auckland)


You’re a busy social worker…. you have a client, you are worried about them, they have missed two of their most recent appointments, in the past they have talked about suicide ideation and you know that their current living arrangement is precarious. You try texting them, there is no answer. You try phoning them, there is no answer. You try an email, and get no reply. You even might try visiting where they live, and nothing.

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A community development response to ‘sham’ right-wing populism

The Social Workers Registration Bill: A call to action! 

A guest blog post by Amy Ross of the Social Workers Action Network (SWAN).

Some of you may be aware that a new Social Workers Registration Bill was tabled in the House on the 9th August 2017. This bill aims to move registration from voluntary to mandatory.

Why is this a call to action? Many organisations have been calling for increased recognition and professionalism for years. Indeed the intent was always to move to mandatory at some point. However it turns out that not all forms of registration are equal. The bill, in its current form, represents a major assault on social work and social workers and embeds long standing misunderstanding of and disrespect for social work as a unique and skilled profession.

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Social work and social change: thinking a way forward

Away from the daily grind of social work practice, in the lofty land of international definitions and professional bodies, social work is nominally aligned with the struggle against oppression and the pursuit of social justice. This identity claim is contradictory on at least two fronts. First, it is ideologically fudged in the sense that the nature of social justice and the conditions for establishing it are politically contested. Unsurprisingly, such umbrella definitions reflect a compromise position. International social work organisations have not – and they are not about to – condemn the injustices inherent to globalised capitalism (Gray & Webb, 2013).

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Putting the social back in social work

 

In their analysis of the contemporary linkages between sociology and biological science – and the practical realisation of this project in recent social policy and service design – Gillies, Edwards & Horsley (2016) pose some critical questions for social work. The epigenetic argument is that care and love generate a healthy brain, a well-adjusted child, and a successful adult (see also Beddoe, 2017). It follows that parenting – the provision of stability, love and care – is the key to social development. Accordingly, targeted resources should be directed to ensuring that parents who are not doing this job adequately are enabled (or forced) to do so. Further, it is appropriate to terminate the rights of parents if they are incapable of delivering on this responsibility. Such parents are, of course, found amongst the urban poor in western capitalist societies. The way out of poverty is, it seems, ‘love’. And we have the data-base capacity to detect love-less children, and those parents who are unable or unwilling to provide it.

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An independent inquiry is needed: Right here!  Right now!

It is a cliché, of course, to point out that we inevitably repeat the mistakes of the past if we do not understand and learn from them. However, this does not make the sentiment any less true. The story of the abuse of children in the care of the New Zealand state is a case in point. It is a deeply disturbing and still largely hidden history (Stanley, 2015; 2017). There are currently over 700 people with unresolved claims on the books of the Wellington law firm Cooper Law. It is very likely that this figure represents the tip of the iceberg.

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Thinking big about housing

A guest blog post by Alan Johnson.

The Government does not acknowledge that there is a housing crisis.  This denial is most likely for reasons of framing – once it admits the frame of a crisis it will then need to accept the blame for it.

But for the people on the right side of the ownership divide, the housing market is not a crisis but a bonanza.  These people have seen the value of the residential property assets rise by more than 60% during the term of this Government and if they own property in Auckland it has almost doubled.

Another reason why the Government won’t acknowledge the housing crisis is because its supporters – the property investors, speculators, landlords, developers as well middle class baby boomers – have benefited hugely.  Furthermore, these gains have more or less been tax free.

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Re-imagining social work conference stream: Call for papers

Kia ora tatou

The Re-imagining Social Work collective is hosting a stream in the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand 2017 Conference, 6 – 10 December 2017 (Dunedin). The broad theme of the conference is ‘Respect Existence or Expect Resistance‘. It aims to cover a variety of key public debates both nationally and internationally.

Within this broad conference theme, we are managing a stream relating to social work. We welcome abstracts in line with our stream:

Re-imagining resistance: Social work in and against the state.

For more information about the stream and how to submit abstracts, please visit the conference website.