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SWSP6013 Social Work Theory and Practice
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Social work is something very practical that aims at protecting people and bringing positive changes in their lives rather than giving a theoretical explanation of why bad things happen to them. It focuses on social changes at the individual and community level. In this section, a social issue is discussed which is related to Refugees and Asylum Seekers. The literature review on policies related to such section of the Australian society is done and its significance is explained. In addition to this, a discussion on the importance of critical theories as an influential factor is elaborated.
Critical Social Work and Significance
Critical social work is characterised by the application of certain critical theories' social work that is aimed to address social issues and injustices happen to communities rather than individuals. According to Australian Council of Social Service (2014), critical social work is a progressive form of a social work that challenges and questions the unethical and threatening division, power relations, and social disadvantages characterising a society or community. The approach of critical social work theory is based on many theories from a different domain of social sciences and humanities. In addition to this, it is founded on the principles of anarchism, social democracy, anti-racism, feminism, etc. There are many themes that are strongly addressed by critical social work. These comprise unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, racism, discrimination, abuse, exploitation, crime and social unrest, housing, education, neoliberalism, abuse and exploitation (Mattsson, 2014).
Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia
Refugees and asylum seekers face many issues in almost all countries. They have their own demands and issues that are not addressed by government agencies. Moreover, there are only a few policies and measures formed by the government. In Australia, just after World War II, there had been a tremendous increase in the number of refugees from Nigeria, Sudan, Burma, Europe, and other areas that were affected regions. Majority of them were seeking security, safety, employment, good education, and living conditions. Aiyar, et.al, (2016) highlighted that the majority of the war affected refugees seeks improved services for children, aged, and women population. This comprises access to better working conditions, education, training, and culturally viable child care. In countries like Australia, refugees are assessed as per the guidelines of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugees who settled in the developed countries are subjected to various global conventions and local legislation and policies as per the Refugee Convention of 1951. Under these conventions, the government is subjected to provide some basic services to the refugees, such as emergency aid, housing, health and safety, education, working opportunities, etc.
It has been seen that working with refugees and asylum seekers can be both rewarding and demanding. According to Baines (2007), the government's neglecting behaviour and 'othering' attitude have given them the status of the victim as they have been denied their complete independence and agency. In addition to this, the representatives of refugees lack political authority and agency. This has resulted in creating a dilemma for refugees as they face problem in defending their rights and advocating their human rights. The reason for selecting this issue for this assessment is that the ways in which asylum seekers and refugees are treated and perceived by the government agencies as a threat or victim has a strong impact on their access to safety, support, and services. It has been seen that native communities in Australia are in conflict with migrant communities and refugees and sometimes they are too hostile. Social groups who are concerned about them are in opposition to restricting access to agency and rights, denying services, and limiting the services. The tool called 'Destitution' is used by the government agencies against the asylum seekers for reducing the pull factors. Lin (2017) argued the prohibiting access to employment, education, health care, and housing on the grounds of human rights and the right to equality. According to Baines (2007), the Australian policy that mandates the detention of each and every asylum seeker who arrives in the country without any formal documentation or permission has critically polarised the country.
Role of Social Workers in addressing the social issues
There are numerous inherent conflicts faced by the NGOs and social workers in carrying out human rights related to the refugees and asylum seekers. Many social work theories claim that human right work for refugees and asylum seekers in the specialised field of social work. The importance of this type of social work has increased tremendously in the past. There are many targeted social programs launched by social groups (Lischer, 2015). However, these are only available to those who meet the required criteria, such as desired age, type, level of disability, income level, etc. The service users need to prove their eligibility for availing those services. Many of the social work programs are funded by the government and non-profit social organisation. For asylum seekers, there are many programmes like addiction services, employment services, and mental health services that too free of cost. The social workers feel privileged to work for society. Many of them accepted that they are privileged for working for human rights and political agency establishment for the refugees and asylum seekers. Such social groups have a culture that respects and supports cultural diversity.
There are numerous issues that might undermine the efforts of the social groups, such as limited training and knowledge, alteration in managerialist culture, low funds, and short-term work contract. The social workers try to change the mentality of the general public and mainstream providers towards refugees and asylum seekers. In most organisations, a lack of guidance from the side of management about how to deal with the refugees is the major cause of ineffectiveness of the programs and efforts (Boyd, 2018). Many social workers have accepted that major part of their work is all about getting people housed, educating and training them for a better job opportunity, increasing access to the health care services and assessments completed. Usually, refugees face problems, such as poor employment rights, low pay, poor working conditions, and certain organisational barriers. Social work strongly condemns discrimination of any type (Lin,2017). In Australia, the discrimination with refugees and asylum seekers is on a very concerning level. This might be seen in media, communities, organisations, and government policies. The most disturbing behaviour is xenophobic statements from communities, societies, and government officials.
Impact of Social work on the lives of Refugees and Asylum Seekers
In Australia, the plight of asylum seekers and refugees dates back to millennia and is well-recognised by the government. The issue has been tried to be compacted and related to economic issues of individual countries. As a result of the efforts of social work, groups turn out to be ineffective. Social workers often compromise on their duties and responsibilities in working with asylum seekers and refugees. Usually, asylum seekers enter in Australia without legal documents and Visa and want refugee status. The government clearly denies the acceptance of the refugees and asylum seekers and denies the social rights to them. Baldwin (2016) highlighted that the Australian government created a regime for the welfare of asylum and refugees that are living under extreme conditions and poverty. Refugee families are under constant threat of resettlement or homelessness. In addition to this, the refugee families are underpinned by the violent, traumatic, and life-threatening situations. Upon resettlement. They find it hard to adjust to the new culture and environment and social system. This may sometimes increase tension and violence among family members (Boyd, 2018).
The social workers work with the section of asylum seekers and refugee facing financialdifficulties or the old people, women, and children who are in need of safety and security. The basic duty of the social work team is to assess and classify the unaccompanied minors. The core assessment is all about assessing the needs of the old people and then taking their care under Section 20 of the Aged Care Act of 1997.In addition to this, the social workers are entitled to coordinate with the Home Office and integrate their functioning with policies formed by the Home Office (Banks,2014). This is done to provide support to homeless refugees. In addition to this, some changes have been done in the sections of Migration Act of 1958 in order to ease off the circumstances for the refugees to return to their native places. Refugees and asylum seekers accept that social work team plays a great part in their sustenance in the foreign country. There are some social groups that are providing outstanding service and efforts in this field. They are rippling on the lives of the communities and social groups.
In this section, the understanding of the critical social work had been developed. It was determined that social work has a positive impact on the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. In Australia, refugees and asylum seekers face many challenges, discrimination, and traumatic circumstances. It is due to their efforts that the Australian government created a regime for the welfare of asylum and refugees that are living under extreme conditions and poverty. They provide support to homeless refugees. Overall, they play a crucial role in changing the lives of disadvantageous people.
- ACOSS Australian Council of Social Service. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.acoss.org.au/
- Aiyar, S., Barkbu, B., Batini, N., Berger, H., Detragiache, E., Dizioli, A., ...&Spilimbergo, A. (2016). The refugee surge in Europe: Economic challenges. National Institute Economic Review, 235(1), F16-F31.
- Baines, D. (2007). Anti-oppressive social work practice. Doing anti-oppressive practice: Building transformative politicized social work, 1-30.
- Baldwin, M. (2016). Social work, critical reflection, and the learning organization. Routledge.
- Banks, S. (2014). Critical commentary: Social work ethics. The British Journal of Social Work, 38(6), 1238-1249.
- Boyd, M. (2018). Gender, refugee status, and permanent settlement. In Immigrant Women(pp. 103-124). Routledge.
- Dustmann, C., Fasani, F., Frattini, T., Minale, L., &Schönberg, U. (2017). On the economics and politics of refugee migration. Economic policy, 32(91), 497-550.
- Lin, N. (2017). Building a network theory of social capital. In Social capital(pp. 3-28). Routledge.
- Lischer, S. K. (2015). Dangerous sanctuaries: refugee camps, civil war, and the dilemmas of humanitarian aid. Cornell University Press.
- Mattsson, T. (2014). Intersectionality as a useful tool: Anti-oppressive social work and critical reflection. Affilia, 29(1), 8-17.