Given the extensive and harrowing testimony presented to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State and Faith-Based Care we should not be surprised by the recent whistle-blower evidence of physical abuse in a Care and Protection residence. I have read copious case records of young people placed in institutional care settings in the 2000s which document incidents of violent and coercive behaviour by residential staff during this period. Not all staff were guilty of this sort of practice and it didn’t happen all the time.
Any such behaviour is unacceptable and indefensible, but we don’t really need our politicians to repeat these platitudes to us – we already know that. What we need is a plan to abolish the residential incarceration for children in need of care. Andrew Becroft is right to point out that secure residential regimes are not fit for purpose. They are challenging workplaces. Staffing gaps tend to be filled by casual contracted workers. High needs young people grouped together in rule saturated behaviour management systems form hierarchies and actively push back against the system. They are gold-fish bowls – small prisons for kids – and they don’t work. All too often staff end up controlling children with bullying and intimidating practices of their own.
Continue reading Residential Abuse and Child Protection Reform
When we kicked off this blog site we envisaged a creative space that challenged complacent doxa – that rattled a few cages and imagined a different social work in a world made both more equal and more free. We have chipped away at this all the way along – exploring the boundaries of what might be done. Recently we have experimented with podcast interviews – changing up from the usual run of opinion and commentary pieces. Today I though I’d provide another angle: woke up this morning with a prose poem in my head and needed to let it go …
Continue reading On any given day
I have read the pre-publication Report of the Waitangi Tribunal (Wai 2915) – Oranga Tamariki Urgent Inquiry – with great interest. It is, at least potentially, a ground-breaking report. It signals the possibility of significant systemic change to the child protection system in Aotearoa – especially for Māori. The report should, I think, be read by everyone with an interest in this future. The core recommendation for a transformational transition authority is, I believe, a challenge and an opportunity which must be grasped by the state.
Continue reading He Pāharakeke, He Rito Whakakīkinga Whāruarua
In this podcast Deb Stanfield interviews Liz Beddoe about changes to the abortion law that will make it possible to set up safe areas around specific abortion services.
Continue reading Time to protect abortion services from harassment
In this podcast episode, Ian Hyslop interviews Paul Garrett of NUI (National University of Ireland, Galway) for the RSW Collective. Paul is a much read and respected theorist and writer in relation to the political context of social work and its implications for education and practice futures. Dr Garrett discusses his recent response to the provocative ‘end of social work’ critique offered by Chris Maylea.
While acknowledging the difficulties associated with critical practice he suggests that social work does not sit outside of the tensions facing the liberal capitalist system globally. Referring to Gramsci’s notion of ‘conjunctures’ he points to climate change, uneven social suffering, the geopolitical unrest which is fuelling a refugee and migrant crisis, and the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Add to this the political resurgence of the populist right (and unprecedented potential for state surveillance) and we indeed are living at a challenging cross roads. Garrett argues that we can not choose to live apart from these structuring realities – but that where there is power and reaction there is resistance and solidarity. As workers and social citizens there is, as there always has been, a different world to be won. Dissent is a necessity.
A guest post by David Kenkel
I am sure many of you will have noticed that ‘trauma informed practice’ has become a bit of a new buzzword in the world of social work. By contrast, why is the theory and practice of ‘poverty informed practice’ developed by Krumer-Nevo (2016; 2017) and others backgrounded and de-emphasised in our current context?
It is important to say that there are many earnest, well-intentioned and competent social workers and researchers who write about trauma informed care/practice. Writers such as Levenson (2017) are not part of some massive deliberate conspiracy to promote the neoliberal norm of individualising problems at the expense of a structural and broader societal view of social struggles. Instead, they are doing exactly what Antonio Gramsci described (Gramsci, 1971).
Continue reading How come we don’t do ‘Poverty Informed Practice’?
Events in the recent past – perhaps over the last ten years – have left me with questions about the future of social work practice and social work education. Events in the more distant past provide some clues about progressive ways forward, or at least some pointers about approaches which are best avoided. As I have argued in this blog space for some time, the origins of child and family social work are linked to late nineteenth century responses to problems inherent to the capitalist mode of development (Ferguson, 2004).
Continue reading SO, WHAT NOW – MORE CHARADES OR REAL SOCIOPOLITICAL CHANGE?
This is an RSW experiment in providing resources for the educational commons that are freely available to all using creative commons licensing.
In this case we are releasing a podcast interview. Neil Ballantyne (Open Polytechnic of New Zealand) interviews Liz Beddoe (University of Auckland) about the social policy text she edited with Jane Maidment (Maidment & Beddoe, 2016). Neil asks Liz three questions:
- What is social policy?
- What is unique about social policy in Aotearoa?
- Why do social work students need to study social policy?
Post a comment to let us know what you think and tell us if we should create more resources like this one.
This podcast is copyright RSW Collective and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to download it and embed it in your own teaching and learning resources, so long as you attribute it to “RSW Collective (2021, January) https://www.reimaginingsocialwork.nz/2021/01/what-is-social-policy/”
Maidment, J. & Beddoe, L. (Eds.) (2016). Social Policy for social work and human services in Aotearoa New Zealand: Diverse perspectives. University of Canterbury Press.
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash
Podcast music: cello pizz 01 by Morusque (c) copyright 2019 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
A disturbing year of disruption and trouble is drawing in. Summer sunshine is wrapping us in light once again as we take breath for the road ahead. We have been so lucky of course and those of us who would live in more equal and compassionate ways, are hoping – as we must – that better collective futures will be built and that lessons will be learned. We live in daunting and exciting times which call for solidarity, courage and care – a valuing of the gifts we all bring and a sharing of the burdens we carry. The following is a mix of thoughts from members of our collective – we trust there is something in here for each and all.
Look after one another as we front up to 2021 – we are human beasts in a living world of joy and pain: Laugh when you can, cry when you must. Time moves.
Continue reading Goodbye to 2020