- Social workers need to engage in policy practice in several ways to make a difference in communities, and do justice to their own professional values and principles
- The social work profession has the responsibility to create an enabling environment for social workers, and to embrace policy practice with courage and confidence
- Social workers may also need to re-examine the profession’s non-political and non-religious neutral stand
A Charles Sturt University (CSU) social work academic says that social workers need to understand and work with local politics and power structures in order to do justice to social work values and principles.
Professor of Social Work, Manohar Pawar, in the CSU School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Wagga Wagga, argued the case in his article in the newly published first issue of the International Journal of Community and Social Development (published Monday 4 March 2019).
Professor Pawar (pictured) created the journal and is founding editor-in-chief.
His lead article, ‘Social Work and Social Policy Practice: Imperatives for Political Engagement’,
argues that since local-level communities remain largely neglected in terms of their overall development, there is an imperative to engage in policy practice and political processes to address their felt needs and issues.
Professor Pawar said, “The local conditions relating to health, education, housing, employment, gender equality and socioeconomic infrastructure in majority of communities in the Asia-Pacific region are largely neglected by professional social workers.
“To make a difference in those communities, and to do justice to their own professional values and principles, social workers need to engage in policy practice in several ways.
“They may also need to re-examine the profession’s non-political and non-religious neutral stand.
“I argue that to facilitate their necessary political engagement, social workers need to understand and work with local politics and power structures.
“Such a stand calls for new thinking and altering some aspects of the nature of social work education and practice in the region.”
Professor Pawar also points out the responsibility of the profession to create an enabling environment for social workers, and to embrace policy practice with courage and confidence.
“There are also ethical and normative (social justice, human rights, and responsibility) imperatives for not ignoring the long-term neglect of the problems and communities,” Professor Pawar said.
“In the article I present the ‘Three Ps’ model (Personal, People, Paper) which focuses on the social worker’s being in terms of strengthening virtues, qualities and character, so that they can effectively engage with people in communities, bureaucracy, politics and organisations, and can undertake policy analysis that can make an impact.
“Given the magnitude and seriousness of issues and neglect at local levels, it is a challenge to and responsibility of the social work profession and professional bodies at national and international levels to look again at and revise their ethos and guiding principles, and curriculum approaches in innovative ways so that social workers can wholeheartedly engage in policy practice with fortitude, passion, commitment and vision.”