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The anti-mandate movement: motorbike helmets and neoliberalism

A guest post from David Kenkel

What I am aiming to do in this piece is to connect some threads that I don’t see commonly linked and raise some questions about who benefits from the anti-mandate movement and the potential position of social work in managing our current situation.

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Ka whawhai tonu mātou! We continue to fight.

In this final RSW post for 2021 Neil Ballantyne and Ian Hyslop reflect on the conflicted and generative relationship between social injustice and social work. It has been a difficult year for many. Our old certainties have been challenged as the pandemic has spread suffering globally, particularly, as always, for the poor and dispossessed. The title of this post – “Ka whawhai tonu mātou” (struggle without end) is taken from the title of Ranginui Walker’s classic text. It was the cry that met British soldiers as they invaded Ōrākau Pā in Kihikihi, in 1864: “We will fight on forever”.

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A socially just child protection system?

We are often told that the confluence of poverty, inequality and entry into the child protection system is not something that child welfare services can address. Child protection focuses on the risk of harm to children and the circumstances of their families. Structural inequality, if it is acknowledged at all, is regarded as a problem of a different order. As social workers it is out of our hands and therefore it is invisible; class exploitation and racially configured oppression are one thing, and child protection is another: oh dear, how sad, never mind. I have trouble accepting this proposition.

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Holding fast to collectivist values in a health emergency.

Aotearoa New Zealand is currently grappling with an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19. Since a recent returnee from Australia tested positive for Delta in mid-August 2021, we have been under public health emergency measures, with Tāmaki Makaurau, our largest city, in Level 3 and 4 lockdowns for 88 days (at 13 November). The Delta outbreak has resulted in 5371 cases so far. There are so many cases now that those of us in Tāmaki (and probably in Waikato and Tai Tokerau) have to assume that there are Covid-19 cases in our neighbourhoods. We scan the vaccination statistics every day to see if we are getting closer to that magic number of 90% of our eligible population double-vaccinated, at which point some restrictions can be lifted.

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Palestine, the IASSW and the academic boycott of Israel: A call to action.

Those of us involved in the movement for Palestinian rights are very used to the twists and turns of the Israeli state and its accomplices abroad. They act together to silence and smear the movement for the liberation of Palestine. The Israelis refer to this as hasbara or advocacy for Israel. In reality, hasbara consists of well-funded campaigns of misinformation that work to delegitimise and demonise any criticism of the seemingly endless military occupation of Palestinian land. Israel even has an army of social media trolls that can be mustered at a moments notice to intervene in any social media critique of the Israeli state. False allegations of antisemitism are usually enough to chill the debate.