Cultural proficiency for future social workers
Tuesday 20 October
Having an adequately staffed and skilled child and family sector is important for AbSec as the Aboriginal communities we represent have some of the highest rates of interaction with these professions, and frontline social workers are integral to the outcomes of our children and families.
Earlier this month Karl Williamson, our Project Manager for Western NSW, was invited to present on Aboriginal social work as a guest lecturer at Monash University.
As a Monash graduate in the Masters of Social Work course, Karl was more than happy to appear online and inform the class of not just Aboriginal social work, but also of working productively with Aboriginal co-workers and communities more generally.
The lecture started with an Acknowledgement of Country. This was used as an opportunity to educate and inform students about the importance of having an adequate level of cultural knowledge. After discussing the significance of understanding the history of the land students are on, the discussion was opened up to how this understanding applies to social work and the power of being able to look at situations through different lenses.
AbSec’s Aboriginal Case Management Policy (ACMP) was used to highlight Aboriginal social work in action, and it was emphasised how it has been developed by communities, for communities. Karl explained how the framework of the ACMP makes it unique with the principles; family-led decision-making, family-led assessments, proactive efforts and Aboriginal community-controlled mechanisms as focal points.
Outside of larger frameworks such as the ACMP, it is up to individuals to create the change needed and being a university student is a great time to grasp this idea. Karl recommended being proactive in seeking out what the expectations of and from Aboriginal workers, families and communities are and how these can inform the role of a social worker.
This led to what the social workers of tomorrow can do to challenge and change the narrative so that there is a benefit for not only Aboriginal families, but also social workers and the broader statutory system. Important points were touched on, such as how challenging assumptions and biases of others is extremely important as often we do not even realise these biases are there. As well as this, Aboriginal colleagues should be appreciated for their input and respected in the additional assistance that can go into helping support other workers caseloads.
On being invited to his old university as a guest lecturer, Karl said “It was great to be invited back to present at the university I studied at. Not only was it an awesome opportunity to explain some of the incredible work going on at AbSec like the Aboriginal Case Management Policy but it also provided a chance for students to reflect on their own knowledge of Aboriginal people and culture and how expanding that may help them as social workers. I think it is extremely beneficial for universities to host Aboriginal guest lecturers and hope they do so more in the future.”
You can find out more about the Aboriginal Case Management Policy here.