SOCIAL WORKERS WITHOUT BORDERS WILL HAVE A MEET UP AND LAUNCH AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN SEOUL. COME TO ROOM 201 (2F) AT THE CONFERENCE VENUE ON WEDNESDAY JUNE 29 FROM 12-1pm. SHARE  YOUR IDEAS TO HELP DEVELOP A VIBRANT NETWORK. PRIZES FOR  BEST PRESENTATIONS. 

Background

At the 2014 IAASW congress in Melbourne Australia, a group of enthusiastic participants from across the globe began a conversation to build a Social Workers Without Borders (SWWB) network.

The conversation followed a feasibility study commissioned the previous year by Linda Briskman (Swinburne University of Technology) and Jenny Martin (RMIT University).  Encouraged by achievements of ‘without borders’ groups in other fields, it was decided to pursue a social work network that fostered global thinking and action.

The expanding network now includes social workers and social work students from countries in the ‘global north’ and ‘global south’ including: Canada, Jordan, Australia, Iran, UK, India, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United States.

In 2015, an inaugural SWWB roundtable was organized by Carolyn Noble and Sharon Moore, social work academics at ACAP in Sydney Australia.  Publication in Social Dialogue of a number of Sydney papers followed; others were sourced from social workers in other countries: See papers at http://social-dialogue.com/SDpdf/VOL.11.pdf

The official launch of SWWB will take place at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in Seoul in July 2016. Details to follow in early 2016.

Purposes

The heart of SWWB is enshrined in the following principles for a persuasive global voice:

  • Activism and advocacy
  • Resisting colonialism in social work and social development
  • Tenets of human rights, human dignity and social justice
  • Local solutions by local people
  • Facilitative and reflective
  • Proposing alternative practices
  • Challenging neo-conservative politics and hegemony of the current political milieu
  • Community development and critical social work focus
  • A collection and dissemination point for ‘without borders’ activities and publications

The network will build from the ground up and we seek ideas from across the globe to help foster future developments. We aim to grow in ways that network members suggest and according to our capacity.  In the future a global steering committee will provide guidance.  We see SWWB as also fostering partnerships between academics and practitioners, creating a nexus between ‘academic freedom’ and practitioner experience.

Convenors

Linda Briskman (Australia) and Yasmin Dean (Canada).

Linda Briskman is a social worker, now Professor of Human Rights at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne Australia. Her practice, policy, research and advocacy centers on Indigenous rights and asylum seeker rights. She publishes extensively in both areas including the 2014 book, Social Work with Indigenous Communities: A human rights approach and the award winning 2008 Human Rights Overboard: Seeking asylum in Australia.  (co-authored with social workers Susie Latham and Chris Goddard). Linda is an ‘academic activist’, challenging the harms that are done to people through harmful policies and practices with which social work can be complicit. Although most of her research and advocacy is in Australia, Linda is internationally focused including:  a project on community building by asylum seekers in protracted situations in Indonesia, and research on health provision for Afghans in Iran. Together with another network member, Susie Latham, she established Voices Against Bigotry to expose and confront rising Islamophobia and its institutionalization in political systems (see voicesagainstbigotry.org)

Yasmin Dean is passionate about initiatives that focus on mobilizing community through action research. She also considers herself to be an ‘academic activist’. She uses her professional sphere of influence to help bring a variety of voices and perspectives to the ‘table’. Trained as a social worker, Yasmin has a strong commitment to practices that focus on human dignity, peace and social justice. She has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Canada. Over the years, she has volunteered with: The Canadian Red Cross (disaster response), The Calgary Foundation, and Enviros Wilderness School. Drawing upon her earlier work as a youth probation officer, community social worker and university counselor, she is now an associate professor of social work at Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada where she leads a bi-annual field school to India and has also taken students on global education initiatives to Australia, China and the United Arab Emirates. The primary focus of her current research is on global service learning, Indigenous practices, and cultural relevance in social work education.