Social workers – fair game for a good old bash?

Social work bashing starts whenever something goes wrong and it’s been getting out of hand lately. Social workers get bad press – fair game for anyone ideologically opposed to welfare, looking for blood, or who think they have simple answers to complex, messy problems. Social workers often can’t defend themselves because they work for public institutions and are certainly not going to break confidentiality anyway. But there’s another issue here too. Why do some people insist on calling anyone involved in welfare a social worker? Many countries legislate to protect the title of social worker. That means no one can use it except qualified social workers – in other words – .someone who actually has a social work degree (bachelor or masters) and is eligible for memberships of social work professional associations. Many countries including Australia do not have legal protection over the title but it doesn’t change anything – check your facts – you just can’t go around calling someone a doctor or lawyer if they don’t have the qualifications. Social work is no different. So get with it journos, politicians and everyone else who bandies the title around in a willy nilly fashion. If you read about a ‘social worker” don’t assume they are. Let’s take child protection workers as an example. Child protection workers have a wide range of qualifications and could be be qualified in social science or human services, or psychology, teaching, criminology or even nursing. Some even have a police background – nothing wrong with these professions – just be accurate and call it like it is. Don’t get me wrong they shouldn’t be bashed either – just get the facts right. Even better let’s try some critical thinking not the blame game. Fair criticism accepted.

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