3 thoughts on “Could unions save the social work profession?

  1. I MUST give you a BIG THANKYOU! especially “I’ve consistently seen how small groups of volunteers can change public opinions and hold politicians to account. ” Social workers are on the front line of the battle for social justice, and as such John, you recognize that you intersect the connection between social justice and administration of social policy. I find it frustrating that too often people are very reluctant to examine and talk about the association between battles the ordinary person faces and how their communities are complicit in the social and political manipulation of social policies. They only want to hear about “positive” narratives even in the face of outright oppression, especially when it affects their own back yard. When faced with information that points this out many refuse to acknowledge it and willingly retreat into the “party line” of labeling the victims with names which condemn them without fear of being contradicted… This is alive and well in New Zealand and world wide.
    As an aside you would possibly be able to appreciate what this writer is saying as a positive call for action-and not dismiss the concepts as “fearmongering” so I’m passing this link on to you as an example of the sort of information I am referring to – Chrs! http://mngt.waikato.ac.nz/ejrot/cmsconference/2009/Stream19/Neoliberal%20Slavery.pdf

  2. Thank you for giving voice to this important topic John.

    I agree with Jimi that ANZASW would benefit from developing a stronger voice and taking a stance on the important social issues impacting the people of Aotearoa. That would involve us all as individual members being willing to work collectively to influence those who hold power in our communities. We cannot wait for someone else to do this but must be willing to take action ourselves. I am encouraged by John’s suggestion that if we will work together then change is more achievable than we might think.

    Partnerships with Unions such as PSA would no doubt prove very helpful in this endeavor. We need to make the most of the skills, expertise and public profile that are already available within Unions. Hopefully we can avoid the pride of thinking we have all the expertise and answers. Surely, it is this kind of partnership approach that should be the hallmark of social work action.

    I look forward to seeing where this discussion might take us. Hopefully, groups of social workers up and down the country will begin to come together to challenge local issues and act as a catalyst for significant national change over time.

  3. Interesting thoughts John.

    Thinking of our National SW Association, I do think that it could benefit from developing more formal links and alignment with the PSA, as our largest union for Social Work practitioners. The values of each easily align.

    I could also see our National Association develop (and voice) clearer statements and more intentional positions about issues that affect practice, policy, and people. This might involve our national association re-positioning itself to that of ‘advocate’ and ‘informer’. This is inline with associations generally, who exist for both the profession and the practitioners.

    I look at our UK counterparts and BASW, who appear to have positioned themselves as both advocate and informer. By being intentional about this re-positioning it would be expected that tension between associations and the government of the day would occur. I see this as a good thing, as it will inform us that we have been successful in our re-positioning as both advocates and informers.

    I think the challenges of our current climate, are actually possibilities for further change within the SW profession and our practices.

    Nga mihi
    Jimi McKay

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