Jackie identifies as a feminist and a socialist. In this post she reflects 上 her 社会工作 practice journey over most of forty years (1978-2018) – in and against the state – with DSW, CYPS, Health at all levels, NGOs – in cities, provincial towns and rural settings.
Looking back, she feels that the radical potential of 社会工作 has been unhorsed by structural barriers set within the 政治 and economics of liberal 资本主义. This post questions what might have been and asks us to honestly consider where 社会工作 ers can stand today.
对于社会工作者来说，1980年代是动荡的时刻，与新西兰奥特罗阿的每个人都一样。首先是跳羚之旅-既令人振奋又令人振奋-在组织抵抗压迫方面有很多教训。再有就是工党政府的选举的兴奋于1984年，拥有美好的未来满怀希望！此后，由于本届政府采用了罗杰经济学（Rogernomics）而感到困惑，新西兰奥特阿罗亚（Aotearoa New Zealand）争夺奥运金牌，以实现最严格的新自由主义重组。
How did 社会工作 and 社会工作 ers respond, given our commitment to advocacy for progressive social change? Or, as the International Federation of Social Workers puts it: “Principles of 社会正义, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to 社会工作 .”
They used all the lessons from the Tour, the anti-racism movement and their own ingenuity to promote a different progressive vision for the future. The great spin-off was that, quite naturally, 社会工作 moved from mostly individual case work to more of an emphasis 上 conscientization; working with groups of people in the same situation, learning from them, engaging in the development of 弗莱雷安实践.
Sure, there were some 社会工作 ers that wanted to go down a different route, making 社会工作 more of a 职业. It was not the time or place for this, and, frankly, there was considerable doubt about the benefit of putting effort into something that ran the risk of distancing 社会工作 ers from the 真实 ities of their clients’ lives in so many ways. To be true to itself, 社会工作 needed to concentrate 上 社会正义 and do its bit to resist the 上 slaught of neoliberal economics and the narrow world of exploitative private interest it represents.
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So … of course that line of stars divides a dream from the 真实 ity. Social workers did not collectively organise effective resistance to the 右上方的右旋. Instead, 社会工作 went down the route of turning itself from a job or vocation to a ‘profession’ – with the last step being taken with the amendments to legislation for the Social Work Registration Board in February last year. Social workers celebrated, but was there 真实 ly cause for celebration?
The context for our clients is harm that is rooted in the structural rather than in anything that individual 社会工作 ers do. This goes back to the appalling neglect by Governments over many years of two key factors: the provision of housing and the level of benefits. Have we forgotten that the benefit cuts in 1991 meant that the poorest 25% of households lost around 24 percent of their income, and that benefits have never been restored to their former levels?
Then there are the structural 社会工作 -specific factors, which lead to harm for our clients:
- The chronic under-funding of DSW/CYPS/CYFS/Oranga Tamariki (OT) in its many incarnations which resulted in 社会工作 ers having little room to breathe let alone do thoughtful case work.
- The failure of the current Government to anticipate that increasing the wages of 社会工作 ers in OT might impact 上 NGOs, leading to difficulties in doing the work needed to support families to keep 孩子们 safe.
- The current lack of mentoring for new 社会工作 ers to bridge the gap between academic training and front-line 社会工作 .
And let’s also reflect 上 the central contradiction where 社会工作 declares its commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi yet works within 法s and management practices which have racist outcomes, including:
- The Subsequent Children provisions which bypassed the 通常 procedures of the former Children Young Persons and their Families (CYPF) Act 1989 and which affects 毛利人 disproportionately.
- 历届政府未能执行旨在支持毛利人照顾自己的1989年《 CYCY法》的规定，这与约翰·朗基豪（John Rangihau）领导的咨询委员会的《 Puao te Ata Tu》报告直接相关。
Is it any wonder that te Ao 毛利人 is up in arms about the role that 社会工作 ers play in taking 毛利人 孩子们 away from their whanau? And where are the 社会工作 ers that are daily speaking out and lobbying their MPs and the relevant Ministers of the Crown every time legislation and practice like this – through omission or commission – conflicts with 社会工作 ethics?
And do we 真实 ly think that an Annual Practising Certificate and Continuing Professional Development are going to be the finger in the dam holding back the flood of structural issues that make life so dangerous for our clients right now?
Yes, of course there are 社会工作 ers that work hard for 社会正义 and manage to incorporate social action into their daily working lives. But most of us muddle through; heads down, obeying the rules, maybe feeding our concerns up to the likes of 安扎斯, but essentially making a living and hoping that nothing goes too drastically wrong 上 our watch. We do this because we can.
How many job descriptions put social action as central to what we do as 社会工作 ers, and measure this? How many employers would welcome 社会工作 ers 真实 ly implementing 社会正义 with their clients? Ask yourself why. Because 社会工作 is a job, dictated by what the employer wants and is willing to pay for. And this trumps 社会工作 aspirations to 社会正义, because the structural always trumps the individual.
If anyone disagrees with this assessment of contemporary 社会工作 , I suggest that they look at the training opportunities in 安扎斯’s regular email. I see training 上 trauma – lots of that, the flavour de jour – and 上 different 辅导 approaches such as little figures, play therapy, family therapy, interactive drawing therapy and so 上 ….
Where is the training 上 how to make social action a priority, without losing your job? Or when ethically to walk off the job? How to make 社会正义 such a priority that legislators would not dare expect 社会工作 ers to implement legislation such as the Subsequent Children clauses of the OT Act? （好的，自从去年起草这个职位以来，就社交行为进行了奇怪的培训，但是与以个人为中心的培训相比没有什么）。
I fear we may have lost that opportunity now that 社会工作 has joined the ranks of 法yers and doctors. It may be that our assumed mantle of social action (if it ever was so central to 社会工作 ) will pass to the likes of family workers for NGOs, whanau-ora navigators and youth workers, and to people taking political action outside 社会工作 . Perhaps it is high time to stop pretending and take social action out of the definition of 社会工作 .