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Social justice and high-quality human services : visioning the place of a contemporary professional association

Lonne, Bob (2009) Social justice and high-quality human services : visioning the place of a contemporary professional association. Australian Social Work, 62(1), pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

The current world situation is plagued by “wicked problems” and a widespread sense of “things are going to get worse”. We confront the almost imponderable consequences of global habitat destruction and climate change, as well as the meltdown of the financial markets with their largely yet to be seen damage to the “real economy”. These things will have considerable negative impacts on the social system and people's lives, particularly the disadvantaged and socially excluded, and require innovative policy and program responses delivered by caring, intelligent, and committed practitioners.

These gargantuan issues put into perspective the difficulties that confront social, welfare, and community work today. Yet, in times of trouble, social work and human services tend to do well. For example, although Australian Social Workers and Welfare and Community Workers have experienced phenomenal job growth over the past 5 years, they also have good prospects for future growth and above average salaries in the seventh and sixth deciles, respectively (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2008).

I aim to examine the host of reasons why the pursuit of social justice and high-quality human services is difficult to attain in today's world and then consider how the broadly defined profession of social welfare practitioners may collectively take action to (a) respond in ways that reassert our role in compassionately assisting the downtrodden and (b) reclaim the capacity to be a significant body of professional expertise driving social policy and programs.

For too long social work has responded to the wider factors it confronts through a combination of ignoring them, critiquing from a distance, and concentrating on the job at hand and our day-to-day responsibilities. Unfortunately, “holding the line” has proved futile and, little by little, the broad social mandate and role of social welfare has altered until, currently, most social programs entail significant social surveillance of troublesome or dangerous groups, rather than assistance. At times it almost seems like the word “help” has been lost in the political and managerial lexicon, replaced by “manage” and “control”. Our values, beliefs, and ethics are under real threat as guiding principles for social programs.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 26623
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Social work, Professions, Human services, Social justice
DOI: 10.1080/03124070802635084
ISSN: 0312-407X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIAL WORK (160700) > Social Work not elsewhere classified (160799)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIAL WORK (160700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Past > Schools > Social Work & Human Services
Deposited On: 01 Jun 2010 15:18
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:54

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