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ANZASW statement for World Social Work Day 2019

19 March 2019

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) celebrates World Social Work Day 2019 and the theme ‘Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships’.

“Today, as always, the Association pays tribute to our highly-skilled and hard-working social work colleagues, particularly here in Aotearoa New Zealand: you are the experts, change agents and collaborative partners helping to make a difference in communities across the country,” ANZASW President Sally Dalhousie said.

“ANZASW thanks and stands with you as you continue with your indispensable work, as Canterbury and the Nation begin the process of recovery following the terror attack last week,” she added.

“With great sadness today, we think of the community in Christchurch / Otautahi who have been enduring so much, especially Muslim New Zealanders, including victims and their families / whānau,” she noted.

“I know that the entire social work profession are offering their awhi to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Canterbury. If any good can come of the horrific incidents that took place, is that the outpouring of aroha and kotahitanga now so clearly on display is helping to fortify our society against the hate that led to recent events,” she asserted.

The theme for this year’s Day is promoting the importance of human relationships. The Association recognises the great relevance of this topic at the present time, as communities stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, and our society begins to process the impact of the Christchurch terror attack.

“The overwhelming response we’ve witnessed, from the statutory and international level right down to individual acts of kindness and support, are a reminder of the value of mutual support and respect, and how deeply the spirit of manaaki is rooted in our islands.,” President Dalhousie said.

“The kaupapa of our profession emphasises the importance of relationships between individuals, diverse communities, within families / whānau and society. The global definition of social work affirms that promoting shared responsibility and mutual respect between communities are a central goal of our practice at the macro level,” she stated.

Society is composed of human relationships, both those that are mutually beneficial and those that constrain the well-being of individuals, family / whānau and communities. Social workers know well that transformed relationships, and more broadly, connectivity, can play a major role in changing the lives of people who have been marginalised, are experiencing isolation and / or social injustice.

We also understand that by helping one individual we are able to help others- and that by strengthening society as a whole, we fortify ourselves.

As social creatures, human beings are shaped - on a continuous basis - by their relationships, and from the earliest stages of life onwards draw on their interactions with others as they develop their sense of identity, belonging and values. Social workers understand that the web of interdependence that surrounds individuals is such that when one person is in crisis it has a ripple effect on others, particularly those in their families / whānau.

Consequently, well-being, prosperity and quality of life are significantly impacted by the state of our relations, whether with co-workers, family / whānau, friends or social, political or economic institutions.

“In all our professional activities, Social workers seek to support the people accessing services by facilitating improved or empowered relations with persons or systems, so that they fulfil their rights and potential with mana and full self-determination,” President Sally Dalhousie noted.

“Social workers also recognise the importance of our responsibilities to one another and the fact that real change starts with the individual making fully informed choices that are in their best long-term interest, even if they are sometimes difficult ones. Our role in such situations is to listen, help bring clarity and open doors that might otherwise be difficult to open,” the President added.

“Thinking of the profession itself in this country, I am mindful and appreciative of the fact that the passage of the Social Worker Registration Legislation Act will change the relationship of social work with peers in linked professions and with the people we serve, securing greater confidence in our work,” she commented.

The importance of the new Social Worker Registration Legislation Act

Speaking further on the Act, which passed into law on the 28th February this year, President Dalhousie observed: “The passing of Act into law 28 February 2019 was a significant milestone, moving our profession onto the same footing as other regulated professions that social workers often interact with when supporting the public. This development not only marks a long overdue recognition of the status of Social Work, while increasing the confidence of people using services, ensuring accountability and competence, but also offers hope to colleagues overseas who are also seeking full mandatory registration on terms that recognise the scope and importance of social work.”

“The Association wants to thank Minister Sepuloni for her receptiveness to the concerns of the social service sector and the Social Work Alliance Group during the process of refining the Bill before it was passed. The final Act makes all the difference by ensuring that that not only will the public will now be safer and better served, but our profession will be fully regulated and guided by a scope of practice which informs employers, the general public, and other professionals of the range of activities covered by the profession, in the same way that peers working with the public other fields are,” she added.

“We also want to acknowledge officials from Ministry of Social Development and the Ministers Office who played an important role in achieving the Act in its final form,” she said.

The Association notes that this development has made waves beyond our shores.

““It’s such a significant move internationally- it’s been recognised by your peers in other countries and they also applaud you,” Rory Truell, President of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) told the Association.

Noting that the supplementary order paper introduced a Scope of Practice for Social Workers and Social Work, a development which the Association was actively calling for, he said he was pleased to see that the profession had achieved “control in defining what social work is, maintaining social work standards and not leaving that to employers.”

“This is a really big step forward and will act as an inspiration to other countries that are struggling with registration,” he concluded.

It’s all about people

The Association wants to thank all those who work with us, our members and who are active in making our society a better place for all its people.

As we come together to pay tribute to the victims of the Christchurch terror attack, all who are serving them and the wider community at this time, let us never lose sight of the fact that our diversity, here in Aotearoa New Zealand and across the world, enriches us all. We magnify each other’s mana through mutual recognition, cooperation and respect.

Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi


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