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Friday, December 6 • 11:30am - 1:30pm
BREAKOUT SESSION EIGHT: Social Work

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Chair: Donna Baines

Bindi Bennett: Cultural responsiveness: measuring and evaluating social work practice

​​​​The Closing the Gap rhetoric is too often understood from an epistemic lens of Western based practices, practitioners, and policy makers. This, in part, has resulted in generations of reports on comparative health and wellbeing outcomes where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have continually been framed within homogenised discourses of disadvantage and deficit (across all ‘indicators’) that too often demonises and restricts the diverse voices and rights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities (Walter, 2018). Whilst it cannot be denied that the endemic gaps in health and wellbeing (and all other indicators of inequity and inequality) must be closed, we argue that a critical and self-reflexive lens is required for any practitioner working at the interface between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the institutions and government induced policies seeking to ‘close the gap’. Here, social workers can play a pivotal role, but despite a recent emphasis on ensuring social work graduates are informed by Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing, it may be argued that social work practice is failing to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing concerns. In this paper we present the results of a comprehensive literature review and thematic analysis of Indigenous cultural competency, responsiveness, and ethical frameworks, and attempt to develop a social work model for a critical, self-reflexive, and culturally responsive practice. We identify the individual attitudes, skills and knowledges that may define a social work practitioner’s ability to provide culturally responsive care, whilst also promoting a critical lens on the interface between culturally responsive care and the Eurocentric institutional and policy forces that may impede a social workers ability to assist in ‘closing-the-gaps’.


Percy Lezard: Tending to the Fire, Stoking the Flames as Responsibility: A 2 Spirit Indigenous Ontology of Healing and Decolonial Social Work Practice 

Grounded in the Sylix Ontology of the Four Food Chiefs, I explore my responsibilities as a Fire Keeper within the context of the Syilx knowledge systems as a method of materially manifesting a culture of healing within classroom spaces, specifically social work. My family is known across our territories as the fire keepers for our nation. As a non-binary 2 Spirit person, my fire keeping responsibilities bring an additional nuance to my being as a ‘2 Spirit medicine bundle’. My presentation will interrogate how tending the fire as a metaphor can function as practical and theoretical approaches to making a decolonizing intervention in the settler-colonial classroom space. By highlighting the roots of social and personal trauma and drawing on Sylix conceptions of family, community, the spirit, the body and relationality, I posit possibilities for healing for current and future struggles against colonial violence within and outside the educational system, specifically social work education and Indigenous resurgence.

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Liz Beddoe, Kathryn Hay, Neil Ballantyne, Jane Maidment and Shayne Walker: If [you’re competent] you can be a rebel because there are no worms in your salad: Views on the student journey into social justice in social work practice

Public criticism of social work in Aotearoa New Zealand motivated a three-year mixed methods study of readiness to practise. Over 2017-2018 we ran a survey, focus groups and interviews with social work students, educators, supervisors and newly qualified social workers to explore their views about the strengths, gaps and limitations of their New Zealand qualifying programmes and the transition to practice. This paper will report on the themes of social justice, theory and practice, as a key component of the journey of student to graduate. Social justice, social work advocacy and anti-oppressive practice were key themes in the main messages delivered in education and supervisors want students to be grounded in these areas. Educators and students acknowledged the tensions created in understanding and articulating social justice principles and acting on these in constrained practice settings. Educators should reflect social justice principles in their teaching roles but students weren’t always convinced this was achieved. Supervisors want graduates with critical and political thinking skills and to be “multidimensional”, not just good at ticking boxes. All participants conceptualised social work education as the transformational journey of students into practitioners and social justice is a key part of this process.


Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.

Presenters
avatar for Liz Beddoe

Liz Beddoe

Professor, University of Auckland
avatar for Neil Ballantyne

Neil Ballantyne

Senior Lecturer, The Open Polytechnic
avatar for Percy Lezard

Percy Lezard

Lecturer, University of Manitoba
As an Indigenous 2 spirit non-binary scholar who previously lived and worked in Greater Toronto Area (dish with one spoon treaty), I have an intimate and embodied understanding of the complex relationship between academic learning, body/mind change, and land-based ways of knowing... Read More →