The ombudsman’s report has now been now released about the handling of Malachi Subecz’s case. Between that and media reporting, we are learning more about the circumstances that led to his tragic death. These facts raise many questions in relation to decision-making at the often called ‘front door’ of the child protection system, as well as wider reflections on the broader system. What often happens in cases of child death is a sense of outrage, media frenzy and a growing ‘collective emotion’: in the aftermath this collective emotion generates a pendulum swing towards more risk averse decisions, an increase in screen-ins, a call for more or mandatory reporting, and more investigations and child removals. Of course we should be emotional, we should be horrified to learn of what Malachi suffered and his family’s best efforts to get him help. But unfortunately reforms in response to sentinel events are seldom durable, often ill-focussed, and can have significant unintended consequences.
Criticism of social work as a controlling professional regime concerned with the management of the threatening classes is not new (Maylea, 2021). At best, social work has proven to be an ambiguous occupation:
For example, it is common to state the intentions of social work as helping people to accommodate to the status quo and as challenging the status quo by trying to bring about social change. This dissonance is intrinsic to social work, to its essence. (Epstein, 1999, p.9)
Social workers ‘see’ the consequences of systemic inequality and this experience has the potential to radicalize and fuel dissent.
In this podcast episode Neil Ballantyne talks to Professor Liz Beddoe about the topic of reproductive justice and the implications of the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the famous 1973 court ruling of Roe v Wade.
Liz also highlights some of the actions that social workers and social work educators can take to promote an awareness of reproductive rights.
Beddoe, L. (2022). Reproductive justice, abortion rights and social work, Critical and Radical Social Work, 10(1), 7-22. Retrieved Jul 26, 2022, from https://bristoluniversitypressdigital.com/view/journals/crsw/10/1/article-p7.xml
Photo by Aiden Frazier on Unsplash
I have been thinking about some of the wider implications of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission; wondering about what might change as a result – and what might not. The legacy of suffering generated in the care system is, in many ways, a damning indictment of state social work (Hyslop, 2022, p.65).
If you haven’t read the December 2021 Redress Report (He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu), I’d encourage you to do so. Not only is the scale and detail gob-smacking, the minimalist and destructive institutional responses to revelations of widespread systemic abuse are equally troubling: “It is incomprehensible that human beings could behave like this towards another. What is just as baffling is how those in authority failed in their responses to survivors’ requests for redress.” (Royal Commission, p.5)
Eileen Joy and Liz Beddoe
We knew that it was coming, the leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion strongly suggested Roe would fall, yet when it did our geographical distance and that advance knowledge did not make it less painful.
Roe versus Wade has fallen, and with it the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States is gone. Abortion laws remain, but the right is gone. Now access to abortion depends on the whims of individual states, many of which had ‘trigger’ laws ready to be enacted once Roe fell.