On Friday, I along with several other social workers and social work students attended the Rally Against Racism in Auckland. This rally was called in response to the racist speaking tour of white supremacists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux. These speakers have engaged in an international tour designed to incite racism and hatred (Smith, 2018). As social workers we felt that it was important to speak up personally, and as social workers, against this kind of explicit racism. Those of us who have the privilege of being able to speak out without losing our jobs (such as academics) need to be particularly willing to engage in overt action to challenge racism. Another recent example of this kind of overt action against racism is seen in the action of Swedish social work student Elin Ersson who recently refused to sit down on an aeroplane, temporarily preventing the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker (Crouch, 2018).
Over the past few months there have been a few debates on Twitter (where I talk to many people in many countries about all sorts of social work and politics stuff) about our profession and the nature of our public perception. This often-debated issue is inextricably tied up with our representation in ‘the media’. There is a long-standing theme in the literature going back to the 70s that the profession is given a tough time in the media. Like used-car sales people and estate agents we’re rarely in the news for doing good. Which is utterly aggravating (and underlining the contradictions) when we often suffer the disparaging epithet ‘do-gooder’.
By Amy Ross (Trade Union Organiser, PSA)
Tuesday’s post by John Darroch explored unionisation as a critical component of social workers being able to realise social change in a practical sense. As a union organiser, social worker and the convenor of the Social Worker Action Network (SWAN) within the Public Service Association (PSA) union this presents a useful opportunity to explore this idea further as well as to elaborate on what the PSA is doing with social workers across Aotearoa.
In my previous post I asked what the social work profession might look like if achieving social change was a key priority of the profession. While the response was positive I’ve had several people ask me about how it is that social workers could be a force for social justice given the substantial barriers which the profession faces. This is a considerable question and one which I don’t think enough attention has been devoted to. My understanding is that most social work literature which talks about social change is either utopian, completely neglecting the practicalities of social work practice, or proposes methods of practices which at their heart are still focused at the micro level.
This post is reblogged in solidarity with the UK Social Work Action Network (SWAN).
Here you can find an in-depth description of the planned European Social Work Day of Solidarity with Refugees, June 5th, 2016.
The Re-imagining Social Work blog was launched in April 2015 in response to the New Zealand governments’ announcement of an “independent review” of Child Youth and Family (CYF): New Zealand’s statutory children’s service. See this blog post for an excellent summary of our first few months. Our aim was, and still is, to use this blog, and other social media, to raise awareness about the threat to humane and progressive social work services represented by the CYF review and other recent policy developments. However, in our view, it is impossible to focus on one policy domain – such as the review of child protection services – without also tracing connections with other social, economic and political developments at home and overseas. In a sense what we need to do in order to truly understand what is happening is to develop a political economy of social welfare: one that connects, for example, the aims of the Minister for Social Development’s review of CYF, with the Finance Minister’s agenda to make social services less dependent on the resources of the state, and other developments such as social bonds.