Putting the psychosocial stamp on policy

A guest post by Carole Adamson, University of Auckland

I’ve just been reflecting about the election and what I know about Jacinda and her new team in the light of my recent visit to Finland. I’ve been having conversations with people about social work’s role in emergency and disaster contexts, being firmly of the belief that the psychosocial response to disasters is what carries people into recovery and wellbeing, and that social work in our country is often under-represented in planning for and responding to disasters.

What I liked about the emergency and social services response in Finland, and what ties it in to the small glow of hope that I have in relation to the change of government in Aotearoa, is that a psychosocial perspective is honoured not only in practice but in policy and legislation.

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How can we steer this government towards a more just Aotearoa?

A guest post by John Darroch, PhD Candidate, University of Auckland

Over the past week or so there have been a few blog posts on this site focusing on what the new Labour government means for social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. The general view of the authors seems to be that things are looking up, but that we will have to remain critical, and active, in order to push this government in the right direction.

In this post I intend to look more specifically at how the profession should position itself, and what we can do to maximise our impact. While the new government may have noble intentions there is no guarantee that this will always translate into sound social policy. There will be a range of competing interest groups, holding varying ideological beliefs, which will be working to influence this government when it comes to social policy. In particular this post aims to inspire individuals to think about how they can increase their effectiveness, and make their voice count.

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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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Hope for change at close of year

It is useful – I think – to reflect on the busy year that is now drawing in and to focus on the hopes and dreams that lie ahead of us. In various ways the aim of our RSW Collective has been to contribute to a re-thinking of the aims and aspirations of social work in turbulent times. Above all it is critical to recognise that social work is influenced by a broader context of economic and political relations.

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A time for outrage

A guest post by Dr Patricia Fronek, Senior Lecturer in the School of Human Services and Social Work, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University. Tricia is the creator and producer of Podsocs

It is indeed a time for outrage. The far right is exerting considerable political influence in most Western countries to the point where rhetoric and ideological approaches to welfare and society appear indistinguishable. Critical thinking seems to be absent in many school curricula: see for example creationism still taught in faith schools.

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The “Common Sensing” of Social Work in Britain

A guest post by  David McKendrick (Lecturer in Social Work, Glasgow Caledonian University) and Jo Finch (Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of East London)

The British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron regularly invokes the notion of “common sense” as a means of explanation or resolution to a variety of complex social issues; from referring to a Supreme Court judgment that denied prisoners’ voting rights, as a “victory for common-sense” (Morris, 2013), calling for “an urgent outbreak of common sense” (More Bridger, 2014) when discussing the arrest and imprisonment of the parents of Ashya King, a seriously ill child removed without medical consent from a British hospital in 2014; describing an EU court ruling on benefit tourism as “simple common-sense” (BBC, 2014)  and of importance to this debate, urging social workers to use “common-sense” when dealing with child abuse (Holeman, 2015). As it can be seen, Cameron and his government regularly invoke “common sense” but rarely is it qualified. Rather, there is an assumption that everyone shares the same understanding, as it so obviously simple, and so recognizable and universally agreed upon, that it does not merit qualification.  Indeed, this seems a key ingredient in what we previously referred to as “thin narratives” (McKendrick and Finch, 2016), using simplistic and anxiety provoking narratives to explain complex social phenomena.

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