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Graduates give new bicultural degree thumbs up

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Social work graduates give new bicultural degree at MIT thumbs up

Manukau Institute of Technology social work graduates have welcomed the new bicultural Bachelor of Applied Social Work degree, stating it will further empower future graduates to work effectively within diverse communities.

The degree will be officially launched on Wednesday, 13 December. It meets the New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board’s new registration requirements for social workers and replaces MIT’s Diploma in Social Work from next year.

Diploma graduates, such as Hoang Doan of Mangere East, have welcomed the degree.

The degree addresses the cultural, mental health, social services and youth behaviour needs of Counties Manukau communities, especially migrants and refugees, says Hoang.

Originally from Vietnam, Hoang is a part time information officer at the Multilingual Information Service at Citizens Advice Bureau in Three Kings and a community support worker at Spectrum Care in Onehunga.

He has enrolled in the new degree to become a fully qualified social worker in New Zealand’s multi-cultural environment. “It will enable me to help and support not only Vietnamese people but also the public at large.”

Fellow Diploma in Social Work graduate and Mangere resident, Kathryn Ross, says the degree will deliver higher qualified social workers in the region, which will greatly benefit local communities.

“People need social workers to help them in tough situations when they want someone to talk to and give them a different and broader perspective on their problems.”

According to MIT social work co-leader, Riki Paniora, the new qualification has been created to address the serious shortage of qualified social workers in New Zealand.

As New Zealand’s population continues to change and grow the degree will fully equip those who work within their communities with the tools they need to make a difference, he says.

“This is a truly bicultural degree with traditional social work theories and Maori knowledge integrated through the programme. It is unique as it looks at social work from two world views as defined by the Treaty of Waitangi while being inclusive of other ethnicities in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

MIT social work lecturer Moses Faleolo adds the degree includes a strong Pasifika focus, which gives it an edge over social work programmes offered elsewhere.

“The way Pacific social work theories and practices are integrated into the degree alongside mainstream and Maori approaches, is unrivalled. The content is strongly influenced by traditional Pasifika concepts, such as Faasamoa.”

Another unique aspect of the degree is the inclusion of a migrant module covering both Asian and South East Asian social work theories and practice perspectives, says Moses.

Because of this multi-cultural perspective, the degree will relate to the diverse cultural communities of the Counties Manukau region and will attract students from diverse ethnic backgrounds to the social work field, says Moses.

“It will help remove cultural barriers between social workers and their clients, as graduates will have a better understanding of how people from different cultures approach social issues.”

MIT’s new bicultural Bachelor of Applied Social Work is a three-year Level 7 qualification and has been created to address the serious shortage of qualified social workers in New Zealand. It was developed jointly by MIT’s Department of Social Sciences and Te Tari Matauranga Maori (Department of Maori Education).

ENDS

About MIT

Manukau Institute of Technology is one New Zealand’s largest polytechnics. It offers 140 formal programmes at degree, diploma and certificate level to 6891 equivalent full time students. Established in 1970 as the country’s first purpose built polytechnic, MIT delivers vocational training. With a workforce of 900, MIT is one of the biggest employers in the Counties Manukau region. Manukau City is New Zealand’s fastest growing metropolis.

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