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Saying “No” to a degraded form of social work


A call to action from two social work colleagues involved with Social Workers 4 Change in Ireland. The RSW collective stand in solidarity with them. Please read and sign the petition.

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I am not a bystander….abuse in care still continues: it’s not just in the past

This guest post from Professor Anita Gibbs (University of Otago) outlines her view of practices in Youth Justice residences. Her personal and professional experiences inform her findings.

I have been a social worker for over 30 years now and hold dear to values and practices that are consistent with international conventions on children’s rights, especially disabled children’s rights. I have a child living with severe neuro-disabilities, and I have become a well-known disability advocate because of our family experiences of systems. I research, publish, teach, and raise awareness in this mostly unrecognised area of social work. It is because of this background that I cannot be a bystander when I see practices which continue to harm children and youth who are disabled and vulnerable. Those with FASD for example are 19 times more likely to be in trouble with the law than other people, and NZ and Australian studies emphasise the exceedingly high numbers of children and youth incarcerated in justice facilities with brain injuries, ADHD, ASD, FASD and other conditions.

In 2020, one research study reported on appalling abusive conditions in NZ’s YJ residences and of course in 2021, there were the headlines of violence in one Care and Protection residence. Sadly, these conditions of violence, including assaults, verbal threats, theft of property, damage and self-harm, are not one offs at all; they occur all the time in our residences, not only between children and youth placed in them but sometimes from adults who are lacking in significant disability training. Untrained and with little neuro-informed practice, staff, at times, can become overwhelmed and resort to overly punitive action leading to the harm of those young people with complex neuro-disabilities. I can talk about it because I have experienced it first-hand on many occasions with my own whānau members. 

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Deconstructing Disinformation

As social workers committed to progressive policies, critical thinking and community safety it has become urgent that we learn to protect ourselves, our colleagues, our whānau and our communities from disinformation. Luckily there are now a range of evidence-informed approaches that can help us do that.

The RSW collective has created a new page on our blog to maintain a curated list of resources on tackling disinformation. If you want to recommend others please use the comments box to let us know.

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Convoy politics and barbarians at the gate

The recent ‘convoy’ protest encampment of people outside Parliament and the chaotic confrontation with Police which eventually dispersed the camp has generated some disturbing questions in relation to the social and political landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. A variety of commentators have attempted to explore the roots of this event and many of us are struggling to develop a coherent analysis. What is it that has made people susceptible to the confused strands of ideology that we saw running riot? It seems clear that an eclectic mix of disaffected individuals and influences coalesced. I have been trying to make sense of all of this myself. I am not there yet, but some of the following is true.

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What does the High Court vaccine mandate decision mean?

Guest post by an Anonymous social worker

What does the High Court vaccine mandate decision mean?

The decision released last week about the overturning of the vaccine mandate for Police and Defence personnel has sparked fresh debate about the validity of the mandates. The High Court decision is being lauded by those opposed to mandates as being evidence that all mandates were wrong.