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National Social Workers’ Day

National Social Workers’ Day

Today’s social workers deal with more complex issues as they continue to contribute to making New Zealand a more just, caring and humane society, says Associate Professor Kieran O’Donoghue, Head of Massey University’s School of Social Work.

His comments acknowledge the more than 2000 social work graduates of Massey University he says are making “a significant impact in people’s lives across all fields of social work practice as New Zealand celebrates National Social Workers’ Day.”

Dr O’Donoghue commends the “resilience, passion, commitment and compassion of social workers who work in a dynamically changing context, which is a complex mix of constrained resources, high accountability and public scrutiny.”

“In the face of these pressures, social workers continually support vulnerable and socially excluded people to manage and/or change the difficult social situations they experience.”

He says today’s social work is complex, specialised, and contractually managed in four major areas: children, families, and whanau affected by neglect, abuse, violence and offending; the provision of support and care for people experiencing health, disability, mental health and addictions issues; social challenges affecting children at school that contribute to challenging behaviours in the classroom and playground; and assessing needs and coordinating services so those most in need can access and receive support services.

“Across all fields of practice, social workers engage with people through the medium of a professional relationship,” Dr O’Donoghue says. “In doing so, they aim to facilitate participatory change, while ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable and at risk. It is challenging and demanding work that requires ethical maturity, emotional intelligence, compassion and interactional practice skills.”

“For practitioners, social work is both a career and a calling that seeks to fulfil the words of Ghandi, who said, ‘We must become the change we wish to see in the world’.”

National Social Workers Day is on Wednesday September 23.


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