Social Work and Human Services: The AASW
Social work refers to the maintenance of well being of humans and constituting to the betterment of their health and safety. In the opinion of Patil and Ennis (2017), social work is associated with the identification of the needs of patients and people who suffer in terms of their mental state and health. Social care system is structured in such a way so as to, provide mental assistance and support to the people for constituting to the betterment of their treatment process. The people who are primarily associated with social care are the ones who are deprived of the basic social life and gain disadvantage from the society. Therefore, the AASW social care groups work towards the betterment of the lives of those people and eradicate any kind of inequality and social injustice that is prevalent in the society. At the very beginning, the ethical standards of AASW incorporate into a healthy mental state of the people in the society. Therefore, as stated by McDonald et al. (2015), the AASW practitioners ensure that they conduct counseling of people, maintains a harmonious relationship between communities, and families. The Code of Ethics constitutes to be an important aspect in the AASW health standards. Therefore, a number of ethical considerations are provided to the healthcare practitioners that must be abided by while taking care of patients. For instance, there must be identification of the needs of the patients and therefore, the treatment process shall be conducted accordingly. The maintenance of privacy and confidentiality of the patient is also of utmost importance in the ethical standards of AASW.
The Duty of care is also an integral part of the AASW. It bars each of the healthcare professionals to abide by the legal rules for carrying on their professionalism effectively. They must be entitled to perform the duties and responsibilities effectively. As mentioned by Weaver (2016), one should make sure that an individual with mental health issues shall not be detrimental to others and thus, a healthcare professional must always look after that individual. Thus, the professional person must always look after the patient and ensure the safety of that patient and other individuals close to him as well. At every step, the healthcare professionals must make sure that the dignity and the basic human rights of the people are maintained by the healthcare professionals (Hay, 2017). Despite that, the healthcare professionals shall be entitled to serious legal entities. Along with that, AASW standards also state that healthcare professionals must work towards curbing any inequality that might be persistent in a healthcare organization. Thus, any instance where people are treated differently due to their background shall be curbed and this is one of the core responsibilities of healthcare professionals. They must provide equal and fair treatment procedures to every individual irrespective of their socio economic background.
Ethical decision making also serves to be an important aspect in healthcare as per the guidelines of AASW. As opined by Patil and Ennis (2017), healthcare professionals shall be subjected to situations where they shall face ethical dilemma and need to take decisions for the betterment of the individuals concerned in the long run. Therefore, as healthcare professionals, they must ensure that the decision taken for the concerned individual would constitute to the well being of the patient in the long run and the related individuals as well. Moreover, as influenced by Weaver (2016), that professional must always provide adequate information to a patient on the health as having adequate knowledge on own health is one of the most important factors of AASW ethics and standards.
The very concept of self-determination can be mentioned as the specific movement by which the Native Americans tend to seek towards achieving respective ‘restoration of tribal community, self-government, cultural renewal, development of reservation, educational control and equalized or controlling input into the decisions of federal government concerning the relevant policies and programs’ (Bender et al. 2010). By virtue of the principle of self-determination coupled with principle of equal rights, it can be mentioned that everyone has the right to determine freely barring any sort of external interference one’s political status, alongside pursuing the socio-economic as well as cultural development. The State authority is duty-bound for respecting and acknowledging this fundamental right (Engle, 2011).
The right to self-determination is particularly applicable to the Indigenous people of Australia, inclusive of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander population – whose fundamental human rights have been violated over the years due to misunderstanding or non-acceptance of governmental provisions. It can be mentioned that self-determination is an ongoing process of choice for ensuring the fact that Indigenous communities are capable enough for meeting their respective socio-cultural and economic needs (Bennett et al. 2011). The right of individuals to self-determination can be regarded as a cardinal principle within the framework of modern international law, implying an imperative principle of action.
The ethical practice of social work and human services can effectively contribute to Indigenous Australian peoples’ self-determination in terms of maintaining a mutual relationship. The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is committed towards working to the reconciliation process with Indigenous population. The Indigenous population centric social work has its very basis on the awareness of the concerned people’s respective ‘ways of knowing, being and doing’ (Polanco, 2018).
The core values of the professional social work are inclusive of respecting all individuals, bringing forth social justice, ensuring professional integrity – and these are significant in terms of ensuring the culturally responsive practices become largely integrated into their continuing development of professions throughout their respective careers. In order to develop effective relationship with Indigenous communities, social workers need to first have a relationship of trust with the Indigenous population. Using preferred local names for the first peoples of Australia would be effective as well to maintain closeness with the marginalized lot (Bennett et al. 2012). Acknowledging country would be effective too alongside engaging in the habit of asking the Indigenous population about themselves rather than telling them what to do or not to do.
Indigenous population should be exerting their right to self-determination in terms of deciding upon their respective lives and careers; and in this regard social workers can help them coping with the uncertainties. The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the distinctive cultural attributes of the Indigenous population and their need for protecting their capacities for living freely and in equity as well as equality with other segments of the society (Polanco, 2018). The issue of self-determination being at the core of the Declaration, the fundamental importance of the right of self-determination needs to be emphasized time and again; and should be applied in consistence with the Charter of the United Nations.
It is argued that that recognition of the rights of the Indigenous population can lead to providing special status to the Indigenous population. Furthermore, arguments have been made that recognizing Indigenous people’s self-determination right would be leading to threaten the universality of the human rights (Muller, 2014). Arguments have been made even saying that existence of the self-determination right for Indigenous population is not dependent on its recognition in the draft Declaration. But all thesedo not certainly mean anything but recognizing the full right of self-determination irrespective of any type of discrimination.
The importance of social workers engaging with the Indigenous population of Australia, popularly known as Australia’s first peoples with regard to knowing them and ensuring their living practices is undeniable (Bennett et al. 2012). The social workers’ engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and their respective culture is both culturally responsive and inclusive.
The profession of social work is dedicated towards ensuring maximization of the wellbeing of the individuals as well as the society. Australia’s history of helping refugees as well as other survivors of human rights abuses goes a long way back. Social work in this ground has much to offer in services when it comes to immigration – related to refugees and asylum seekers; and this role is largely fulfilled by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). Studies reveal that by means of putting to use a human rights framework, social workers tend to be responsive towards the complex as well as complicated needs of the immigrants, refugees as well as asylum seekers with ‘a detailed understanding of the wider context of family relationships and societal institutions’ (Alston, 2009). As mentioned in the AASW Code of Ethics, social workers are bound to approach the vulnerable individuals related to immigration provision with regard to
- respecting the inherent dignity, worth and autonomy of every individual
- respecting the respective human rights (Fiske & Briskman, 2013)
- integrating human rights and trauma frameworks
- providing humane service, duty of care and duty of avoiding harm to others
- recognizing and respecting group identity and collective needs (Fiske & Briskman, 2013)
- fostering individual wellbeing, justice and personal or social responsibility
Welfare provisions prevalent in Australia for catering to the immigration issue are largely inclusive of rise of social work on the professional front which is significantly influenced by both the Feminist movement and Leftist Welfarist movements (Fiske & Briskman, 2013).
The immigrants and refugees face unique challenges due to immigration policies which are significant for the social worker for consideration; as the social as well as legal statuses of the migrants tend to impact the provision and community of social service within Australian territory (Akbari & MacDonald, 2014). Immigration policies constrain the social workers’ capacity of assisting needy individuals especially policies that are designed for limiting family visitation and family reunification.
The immigration patterns over time in Australia have been challenging to social work and human services practice in respect of health and community. Health involves hospital-based work alongside mental health services; whereas community services focus on the industry sector for welfare services. Though social workers engage in effective human services; but that often does not mean helping out with employment opportunities of providing income support specifically in the government sector (Nelson et al. 2014). Benefits of immigration policy does not help Australia from the economic angle as policymakers find immigration itself as an economic burden in terms of being associated with the fear of loss of jobs, heavy burden on public services, increased social tension and rampant criminality. Therefore, building fiscal capacity for all immigrants becomes impossible on ground of not able to work towards completely eradicating social isolation – because the stringent immigration policies act as barriers to the social workings (Abdelkerim & Grace, 2012).
Moreover, serving the immigrants as well as the mixed-status families (inclusive of citizens and non-citizens) becomes challenging for the professional social workers. For instance, reporting issues such as domestic violence, child abuse or employer exploitation to the social service can turn out to be something of offenses of potentially deportable nature rather than opportunities involving seeking justice and healing – due to the intervention of law enforcement agencies (Strang & Ager, 2010). Social workers tend to be working under the dual pressures of policies that are potentially regressive and the AASW’s call for balancing between security and human rights within the comparatively hospitable immigrant and refugee policies of Australia.
With time, social workers are found to be positioned well within as well as outside the service organizations with regard to deepening their respective effective commitment towards immigrants and refugees on account of engaging strategies of social movement and mobilizing adequate resources by means of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) as well as other prominent social service agencies (Akbari & MacDonald, 2014).