Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW): Working to Create a Better Australia

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW): Working to Create a Better Australia

Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional
Radio. I’m your host for the day, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Cindy Smith, CEO of the
Australian Association of Social Workers. She is a passionate advocate for human rights,
social justice and a more inclusive Australia. Today we’re going to talk about her organisation
and her different advocacies. Without further ado, welcome to the show,
Cindy. It’s so nice to have you here. Thank you, Tabetha. I really appreciate the opportunity. Yes, my pleasure. Cindy, please tell the audience more about
your organisation. The Australian Association of Social Workers
is a professional body of Social Workers located in Australia with more than 10,000 members. Social workers in Australia provide supports
to vulnerable individuals, families, and community, they work in a wide range of areas including
mental health, family violence, child protection, aged care, disability, housing, drug and alcohol,
social policy and in doing so, attend to try to advocate for a fairer society. As the Professional Association of Social
Workers, we promote professional excellence and social justice. We’re a member also of the International
Federation of Social Workers as many social work associations across the world and this
year’s theme as promoting community and environmental sustainability. World Social Work Day is the third Tuesday
of March, so this year is Tuesday the 20th of the March and this day is marked to celebrate
and recognised the work of social workers globally. That’s fantastic. Can you tell us, who does it benefit? Who does it benefit? The Australian Social Workers was established
originally to assist social workers with their work in helping and ultimately empowering
people in the community. We also regulate the profession by setting
standards on social work education, accrediting social workers, and professional development
program. We set also the code of ethics for social
workers too, which gives the public some assurance about the standard of care that they can expect
from social workers who are members of the Australian Association of Social Workers. We nurture the future of the profession which
supports particularly to social works students and social work graduates. Members of business association can influence
the very heart of government decision making and social policy, public and economic policy. We do this by advocating for to government
and trying to be at the set of the table that makes decisions. We actively engage with our membership to
represent the sector thru policy submissions, collectivise our members to help us develop
policies and the strategies and hearings to promote social justice and well being particularly
for the most disadvantaged in our community. People can get involved in joining our association
and this policy submission. We regularly do call outs to members that
have particular skills in disability and mental health to support in our policy development. Members can get involved in this by visiting
our website Wonderful. Can you tell us what’s going on in your organisation? What is your biggest event or topic that you
would like to discuss? As I just said, the third Tuesday of every
March is Social Work Day. This year being Tuesday, the 20th of the month
and we’re using this occasion to raise awareness of significant and vital social work that
social workers do in Australia and promoting the theme, “Community and Environmental
Sustainability.” We want listeners to join us in celebrating
and recognising the contribution of Australian social workers on World Social Work Day and
we have run a social media campaign for World Social Work Day, the #socialworkdayau is used
to raise awareness and to recognise social workers’ vital work of social workers now. We encourage listeners to share one and tag
us on Twitter and Facebook. When we talk about the environment, it’s
also not just about the physical and the natural environment, it’s also about the social,
cultural and political environment. Social workers are right at the heart of this
kind of environment to this kind of sustainability. Each year we host an award called the Mary
Moylan Award in the Northern Territory of Australia which recognises an outstanding
social worker as part of World Social Work Day festivities. Mary Moylan was the first social worker to
work with remote indigenous communities at the top end of Australia. Part of the indigenous resilience is the connection
to their land on which we live, we all live and work. Mary Moylan was involved in disaster recovery
efforts of the Katherine floods and also the East Timor emergency. This is an example of social worker working
within the strength and challenges of different cultural, physical and political environments. Our latest Australian social work journal
also contains an article written by our member, Susan Bailey, about ‘eco-social work in
action,’ a place for community gardens which is about social work facilitating and building
of trust and cooperation between people of all backgrounds and in communities working
together to grow healthy foods, care for the environment and challenge unsustainability. It’s available to members through our website
if people are interested in looking at that, recently we had the Secretary-general, Dr.
Rory Truell come to Australia and interview one of our National President Christine Craik
earlier this year about how she used her skills as a social worker during one of our big bushfires
in Victoria in 2014. So social workers are on the call face of
environmental disasters as well as the other emergency providers. That’s wonderful to know. Cindy, let’s talk about misconceptions. Are there any misconceptions regarding your
profession that drives you crazy that keeps you up at night? Yes, there are. People may be surprised to know the social
workers, the diverse range of skills of social workers practice in Tabetha which includes
areas of mental health and family violence and child protection, aged care disability,
homelessness and many others. We also are at the call face of the social
policy development, we’re located in all variations of employment or workforces whether
with government and federal government, state government, local government in schools, you
name it, with social workers are there. We have a very broad range of skill set. The biggest misconception also probably about
the people that uses our services is that some are seen as deserving and some are seen
as undeserving within the broader public eye we see this is the theme played out in social
policy all the time. We seek the change that calls for the environment
that entrenches poverty, strike for racism and patriarchal which damaging individuals
and society. Social work is very skilled and complex work
as people know, with its own body of research and practice. That’s why we campaign in Australia, we
don’t have formal registration of social workers in Australia. We already have a credential existing in a
place where our members with the use of collective trademarks and accreditations. We can accept referrals for GP’s such as
similar to psychologists and psychiatrists and a range of other service providers and
can be reimbursed to our medicare system. Not many people know that but it is a service
that social workers offer alongside the other health professionals. Do you know 10,000 members strong body also
give us a collective voice, a loud collective voice and a professional identity which is
constantly and instantly recognisable with the public, government and other health professionals? We believe that the community directly benefits
from this strength as a loud and large collective voice. That’s wonderful to know. Thank you so much, Cindy, for clarifying those
misconceptions regarding your profession. Thank you. Cindy, I would love to talk to you more but
we’re running out of time. But before we go, Cindy, what is your main
takeaway message to all of our listeners out there? What would you like to tell them? We’d like to tell them that social workers
are at the call face of trying to change the system that entrenches individuals and families
and communities unfairly into systems of poverty. This is what social workers do every day to
try and make a more just and fairer community. Wonderful message. Lastly, can you tell us for those who want
to contact your organisation, how can they do that? Yes, thank you. People that want to contact our organisation
can visit our website or call our membership line on 1800-630 124. Thank you, Tabetha. Thank you too, Cindy. It was a pleasure having you. Thank you, my pleasure. That was Cindy Smith, CEO of the Australian
Association of Social Workers. We’ve just been talking about her organisation
which promotes professional excellence and social justice. If you like this interview, transcript and
archives are available at We’re on all social media platforms, don’t
forget to follow, like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing HPR YouTube
channel. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud
and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening
to Health Professional Radio.

Author: Kevin Mason

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