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Streams: Social Work [clear filter]
Tuesday, December 3


Chair: Liz Beddoe

David McNabb: Growing Partnerships: Responding to Issues of Privilege in Social Work Education in Aotearoa

The social work profession is committed to human rights, social justice and the achievement of equity within human societies. It is the job of social work education to prepare and support students to work in a way that promotes these goals. Whereas a critical analysis of societal injustice is often employed that typically focuses on the disadvantage experienced by oppressed groups, the concept of privilege is helpful in analysing the advantages held by dominant groups as a flip side to such analysis. Research was undertaken with nine of the 19 social work programmes throughout Aotearoa to examine how this commitment to equity was being demonstrated by educators. Participants included a diverse range of educators who spoke about the way injustice was analysed and addressed. The theme of privilege was raised and formed part of the practice for teaching about injustice, also for educator development and the way equity could be demonstrated more widely within their programmes. Examples are discussed and recommendations made on how the concept of privilege can be helpfully used in teaching, in staff development and more broadly in social work education programmes.

Susan Beaumont: Diversity and te Tiriti o Waitangi: Educating Social Workers

Beaumont’s (2018) research found that although social work practitioners reported their social work education did not support their engagement with diversity, knowledge of te Tiriti o Waitangi did. Research suggests knowledge of te Tiriti o Waitangi raises practitioner awareness of colonization and power dynamics in Aotearoa New Zealand. The social work profession recognises dynamics of power as central in the violation of human rights for all peoples. However, education in te Tiriti o Waitangi or in others forms of difference does not necessarily translate into competent practice. This raises challenges for social work educators who must attest to each graduates’ competency to work with tangata whenua, other ethnicities and cultural groups, diversity and difference. This presentation explores themes raised by qualified, practising social workers about te Tiriti o Waitangi and diversity and will prompt discussion about how to grow Tiriti-based practitioners able to engage biculturally in a diverse society.

Larah Bottomley: Child and family participation in child protection services

There have been policies, theories and research brought about recently that highlight the importance of children having a voice, and the right to participate, within child protection services. However, what does this look like in practice? Many agree that child participation should be welcomed, but is this simply lip service?
The aim of my presentation is to report on my scoping review conducted this year that discusses child and family participation in child protection services. I will raise issues such as what does participation look like, is participation actually prioritized, and what are the barriers and enablers to children and their families participating more in child protection services. While my research seeks to answer these important questions as much as possible, it has also shown where the gaps in knowledge are, and poses questions around how front-line workers will respond to child and family engagement in the future.

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


David McNabb

Senior Lecturer, Unitec
avatar for Liz Beddoe

Liz Beddoe

Professor, University of Auckland

Wednesday, December 4


Chair: John Darroch

Nigel Pizzini and Susan Crozier: Centering Matauranga Māori in a Social Practitioner Training Programme

This presentation is an account of the rationale behind the authors’ efforts to create a Masters in Narrative Practice programme, geared toward social practitioners, that might be deserving of the designation “bicultural”. We set out to create a programme that would bring Māori knowledge, language and values alongside and into dialogue with international, Eurocentric, non-Māori social practice models and theories. Our intention was to create a programme with Matauranga Māori at its heart, in contrast to programmes that confine Māori content to the beginning or end of a degree. We hope that our account might prove a useful contribution to social practitioner training, particularly with respect to promoting meaningful treaty-based practice. Beyond the question of how Tauiwi social practitioners are to engage respectfully with Māori clients, which risks falling into essentialising models of diversity, we argue that engagement with biculturalism, as suggested by the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi), provides a powerful lens for developing culturally responsive social practitioners more generally, within the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Sophia de Fossard: Children in Care and Protection: The relationship to their social worker and the quality of social worker supervision

A robust literature reports that the quality of the child’s relationship with their social worker is a mediating factor in facilitating the decision making about their future. However, the role of supervisors in shaping the extent to which social worker practices enhance or undermine children’s meaningful participation has been less explored. This presentation focuses on a review of the literature relevant to this question. Child participation in decisions surrounding their care has to be carefully balanced with between many aspects of involvement with government agencies. Given the constraints on the role of social workers within these contexts, this review explores the relationship between the child and their social worker, and how supervision is constructed in this process. This review will use the Treaty of Waitangi as the foundation for engaging in culturally appropriate care for children in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Irene Ayallo: The Advantages and Challenges of S4.5 Residence Category for victims of domestic violence policy

This presentation will focus on S4.5 Residence Category for victims of domestic violence (Operational Manual – Immigration New Zealand), in the context of intimate partner violence experienced by women of migrant and refugee background. Research shows that migrant and refugee background women face multiple challenges, including intimate partner violence. The lives of these women are compounded by factors tied to ethnic minority status, immigration status and processes, gender inequality and class marginalisation. The policy was introduced in response to a finding that legal issues connected to immigration status frequently extend migrant and refugee background women’s vulnerability once in violent relationships. It is argued in the presentation that while the policy ensures that the women can have greater legal protection from the perpetrators of violence, it is still problematic. Specifically, not all refugee and migrant background women are aware of this policy, will see themselves to be in a position to make best use of it, and/or cannot provide the required evidence. The challenges are discussed in the presentation.

Kiminori Fukuda: Trends in Social Welfare Reform for Out-of-Home Care in Japan

Currently social welfare reform for out-of-home care is underway in Japan. The direction is from Residential Care Institutions for Children (RCIC) to foster family care. While the foster parent placement rate rises, there are discussions about various problems that will occur. The turning point of social care in Japan was 2011 government report ‘Challenges and the Future Vision of Social Foster Care’. Since then, the Japanese government has built on this vision, including revising the law to achieve this direction. Based on an extensive review of Japanese government-issued policy documents and related literatures, this presentation introduces the new direction of social foster care system in Japan, and also the factors influencing the direction of policy change in Japan. We will discuss the future of out-of-home care in Japan, and the social work challenges we anticipate in providing support to a new generation of foster care families.

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

avatar for Irene Ayallo

Irene Ayallo

Lecturer, UNITEC
I am a lecturer in social work - and also a registered social worker. I lecturer at the school of healthcare and social practice (Unitec)


Associate Professor, Kansai University
My name is FUKUDA Kiminori, an associate professor at Kansai University in Japan. I am currently a visiting scholar at the Faculty of Education and Social Work University of Auckland until next March. My major is social work, especially child welfare. At university, I am in charge... Read More →
avatar for Nigel Pizzini

Nigel Pizzini

Lecturer, Unitec
Nigel Pizzini is a Narrative Therapist in private practice and lecturer in counselling at Unitec Institute of Technology, Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand. Raised in the Waikato and with careers in youth work, education and therapy, grappling with biculturalism and honouring... Read More →
avatar for Sophia de Fossard

Sophia de Fossard

I have recently completed my Masters of Social Work Professional and I have also studied Psychology and Statistics. I am currently working as a research assistant for the University of Auckland in the area of social work supervision in statutory settings. I have an interest in social... Read More →


Chair: Emily Keddell

Natalie Thorburn: Calling it trafficking: Looking past the silos to the truth

Young women who are subject to violence and are prostituted by their families or 'boyfriends' can rarely access the social and health services that they need. Typically occurring against a backdrop of ingrained suspicion about 'the state' and the potential risks and harm of seeking intervention, victims of domestic sex trafficking are routinely shut down when they attempt to voice the uneasy aspects of their experiences of victimisation. In part, this is due to a lack of a consistent national narrative about what constitutes trafficking and who constitutes a trafficking victim, but is also reflective of the siloing of services. Without a targeted service equipped to deal with all aspects of this experience, it falls to existing, often generalist practitioners to respond to support needs. This presentation draws on interviews with 16 young women and explores what these support needs are, and what barriers and opportunities there are to cross-sector work with victims.

Michelle Egan-Bitran: Supporting change on complex issues in complex environments: The role of religious institutions in addressing intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect.

New Zealand has epidemic rates of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN). Calls for change often focus on the social sector, leaving the role of the religious sector less examined. Responding to this gap, this study explores New Zealand Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches’ religious leader’s perspectives on what helps or hinders their denomination in developing responses to IPV and CAN, and how these could be improved. Data analysis is in progress using thematic analysis informed by a complexity theory lens. This presentation focuses on the methodological and ethical positioning entailed in ‘researching up’ with ‘elites’ on a sensitive topic at a time of public and State gaze, critique and calls for justice regarding abuse within religious settings. The study demonstrates that respectful, relationally-based research can create spaces for religious leaders to explore complex issues such as IPV and CAN in a manner which supports institutional transformation and social justice.

Natalie Thorburn and Samara Welch: Not so romantic: Intimate partner stalking in Aotearoa New Zealand

​​​​New Zealand has been slower than most of the developed world to enact anti-stalking legislation, and its Harassment Act 1997 is rarely used, particularly for intimate partner offences. Despite the low conviction rate, however, the majority of IPV victims are subjected to some form of stalking by an intimate partner - an act made more possible by the proliferation of digital means to monitor and control victims and consequent removal of proximity as a precondition for stalking. This research draws on the experiences of over 700 victims of intimate partner stalking to construct a multi-domain model of stalking, and discusses current good practice for ensuring digital and physical safety for IPS victims, including working across agencies and state actors. 

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


Samara Welch

National Training and Professional Development Advisor, NCIWR


Chair: Liz Beddoe

Briar O’Connor: Normalising the Vulnerable Children Act in a school

One way to address Aotearoa New Zealand’s high rates of child abuse and neglect is to improve child safety in schools, as teachers have the most contact with children outside of the home (Beddoe, de Haan, & Joy, 2018; D. Wilson & Webber, 2014). The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (VCA) has legislated that child protection policies (CPPs) be implemented in all schools, in the place of mandatory reporting. This includes staff being able to identify and respond to suspected and actual abuse. Schools must now ensure CPPs are implemented, integrated and embedded – the facets that make up Normalization Process Theory (May & Finch, 2009). Working with a school to discover how this might happen informs my PhD. In this paper I will outline some of the challenges of the Act, of working within a school environment, and of dis/connections between social work and education.

Eileen Joy: ’Hard to reach families’ and austerity politics in the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children: What this can tell us about the current Oranga Tamariki reforms?

Recently, Minister for Oranga Tamariki, Tracey Martin has countered concerns about Oranga Tamariki by stating that it is only two years into a five-year planned reform. In this presentation, it is suggested that to understand these current reforms we need to consider its genesis in the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children (2011). Bacchi (2009) will be used to examine ‘what the problem was/is presented to be’ in the Green Paper and how that ultimately lead to and informed the reformation of Child Youth and Family into Oranga Tamariki. It is suggested that the context of the Green Paper, coming as a response to both the heavily publicised deaths of some Māori children and the fiscal constraints post GFC, has created a problematic foundation for these current reforms that is both racist and poverty blaming.

Susan Kemp and Paula King: Knowledge Weaving: Building Culturally Grounded Frameworks for Participatory Child Protection Practice

The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by NZ in 1993 required the state to establish mechanisms for realising children’s rights to meaningful participation in decisions affecting their lives and wellbeing. This obligation is consistent with the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi and is embedded in New Zealand legislation, including the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. Ensuring meaningful participation by children and young people in child protection services (CPS) is however challenging. In NZ, this gap is particularly concerning for tamariki Māori. Revisions to the 1989 Act (Section 7AA) require Oranga Tamariki to demonstrate a “practical commitment” to te Tiriti. However, NZ lacks frameworks for participatory child protection practice grounded in Māori perspectives, priorities, and tikanga. Drawing on Oranga Mokopuna, a decolonial child wellbeing model based in te Ao Māori and collective indigenous rights, as well as the participatory rights principles of the UNCRC, this presentation describes the integrative conceptual foundations undergirding our current research, which aims to develop frameworks for CPS practice that bridge the system’s obligation to safeguard children’s individual rights and its equal obligation, under te Tiriti o Waitangi, to partnership with and full participation by tamariki Māori, whānau, hapū and Iwi.

Charlotte Chisnell & Sarah Elliott: Changing the narrative – Why are we still referring to victims of child sexual exploitation as child prostitutes?

Globally the term child sexual exploitation is used to describe exploitive situations in which a young person engages in sexual activities in exchange for money or goods. CSE includes face to face grooming, online grooming and commercial trafficking. CSE is a form of child sexual and emotional abuse however, because the exploitation occurs in situations where a young person enters into a transactional arrangement, there is an assumption that they are making informed choices with an equal bargaining power rather than being controlled and victims of abuse. Currently there are limited services and resources to support victims, and despite the fact that social workers have specific legal duties of care to protect children and young people from abuse protocols and strategies for assessment and intervention remain underdeveloped. We have a responsibility to change the narrative around CSE and to stop the blaming of victims. We need to challenge the perception that CSE involves informed choice and acknowledge that it constitutes a misuse of power which violates young people’s rights and places them at risk of abuse; ultimately we need to develop multi-agency protocols and interventions which will safeguard young people who are victims of CSE.

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

avatar for Briar O’Connor

Briar O’Connor

PhD candidate, University of Auckland
Normalisation Process Theory; Child Protection Policies and Procedures; primary schools; applied theatre; family violence primary prevention; Everyday Theatre
avatar for Liz Beddoe

Liz Beddoe

Professor, University of Auckland


Chair: Jay Marlowe

Hoa Nguyen: Social Justice approach for Financial Capability program

Financial literacy has received increasing attention as a strategy to help reduce and prevent financial hardship. In 2018, the Sorted in Schools, a financial capability programme, was launched with the aim to integrate financial literacy across the New Zealand curriculum and Maori Medium Education by 2021. This is a great initiative, helping to equip our youth with financial knowledge and skills from an early age. However, practitioners and teachers need to be careful in how they deliver the materials, avoiding deficit based approach as it could potentially have negative effect on students’ self-efficacy and their cultural aspirations. This idea came from a formative evaluation in which online surveys were collected from 137 students and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 students. All were from an intermediate and a secondary school in West Auckland. Results showed that some Pasifika and Maori students have negative perception regards to how their families manage money as it does not resonate with the Western individualistic way of money management. This presentation will discuss the findings of the formative evaluation along with some recommendations for best practices.

Alankar Sharma: Heteropatriarchy, masculinity, and child sexual abuse

Men and boy survivors of child sexual abuse are an under-acknowledged, under-studied, and stigmatized population in India. Research on child sexual abuse in India is still in its early stages and little extant research has examined experiences of child sexual abuse for boys and men. I conducted a phenomenological study focusing on the lived experiences of 11 Indian adult men who had experienced sexual abuse during childhood. Through centering participants’ experiences, I demonstrate that heteropatriarchal social structures manifested as homophobia, compulsory heterosexuality, silence about sexuality, and masculinist gender norms are at the core of how men survivors understand and make meaning of their abuse experiences. These lived experiences as located within a web of pervasive and toxic heteropatriarchy stand in dissonance against individualized, behavioral and psychopathological approaches to preventing and addressing sexual abuse of boys. I argue that feminist perspectives are integral to meaningful and sustainable responses to sexual abuse of boys.

Marissa Kaloga: Capital for Construction: A case study in advancing racial equity through community engaged program development

In 2017, an informal group of retirement-age African American construction contractors approached their local non-profit microfinance organization (ECDI) in Columbus, Ohio. The 2008 financial crisis forced most African American contractors out of business, leaving a gap in the local economy. The group wanted to know: How can we work together to create a new cohort of minority construction contractors? In the following year, ECDI worked with a diverse group of public and private stakeholders to create and implement the Capital for Construction program, which offers technical assistance, mentorship, and a novel loan product to launch and grow minority-owned construction businesses. The pilot program was deemed successful in 2018, having successfully supported successful more than 12 new minority-owned companies, and creating more than 40 new jobs. I will present this program as a single, retrospective case study, using an interpretive approach to explore the innovative program design and strategic partnerships employed to develop and implement this program. Using analysis from methods including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and program outcome data, I will present a holistic account of how social and economic justice, central tenets of social work, can be advanced through community level partnerships and design thinking.

Mike Dee: Protest to Survive

This paper explores the surveillance and control project underway in Western societies to govern the ‘dangerous classes’, of the poor, dispossessed and homeless, who owe their malign fortune to the climate of austerity and punitive welfare measures facilitated by the Global Financial Crisis. It is at this point that a reaffirmation of civil, social and political rights as a basis for a ‘good society’, is most crucial. The conference theme of Resistance is a key element in the paper, in resisting the seemingly unstoppable decline of the welfare state. Instead, the principles of social justice, participation and meaningful social inclusion have a major role to play in the reframing of social work, aided by an emerging protesting class of children and young people, taking to the streets because of climate change, forming a constituency of progressive change agents, active across a range of social, environmental, political and economic issues.

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



Lecturer, Unitec Institute of Technology
avatar for Jay Marlowe

Jay Marlowe

Associate Professor, University of Auckland


Chair: Susan Kemp

Ian Hyslop: The Sociology of Child Protection Reform: Emotional Politics and Contested Narratives

Between 1989 and 2015 the racialized statutory child protection narrative in Aotearoa-New Zealand transformed from a focus on the damage done to Māori children by state violence to the cost visited upon the state and wider society by ‘dangerous families’. The tensions underpinning this discursive shift are manifested in the emotional politics of child protection reform. This presentation will explore how the narratives evident within of this contested field are constructed by conflicting socio-political currents that are deeply embedded within the political and cultural rubric of Aotearoa New Zealand, specifically the unresolved conflict between liberal politics and Te Tiriti of Waitangi in a structurally unequal society. It will be argues that resolution of the problem of child protection may lie in deconstruction of these framing discourses and a reimagining of socially just social work policy and practice.

Emily Keddell: Rethinking domestic violence in child protection assessments: challenging the failure to protect narrative

As the definition of child emotional abuse has extended to include exposure to intimate partner violence, so has the remit of child protection services to intervene in such cases. The intersecting systems of child protection and domestic violence services can operate on ‘different planets’, with differing ideologies and conceptual bases regarding the causes, and hence assumptions about responsibility for violence in adult interpersonal relationships (Hester, 2011). Drawing on media reports and interview data from a decision-making study of social workers, this talk discusses these tensions in the Aotearoa New Zealand context. I argue that when child protection responses, drawing on a ‘child-centred’ discourse, construct domestic violence as the fault of both parents, this dichotomises the child victim with both adults as culpable perpetrators. Because of this, if a mother does not instantly end the relationship, or if she is the victim of very serious violence, even if she seeks refuge help, she may lose custody of her children and be construed as ‘failing to protect’ them. This punishes both women and children for (predominantly) men’s violence, and damages both women’s agency and children’s relationships with their non-violent parent, a key protective factor for children exposed to IPV.

Lauren Devine: Social problems, social work and social justice

This paper draws on data and qualitative work from a UK project. The work was prompted by concerns amongst the UK’s Judiciary, politicians and the media about the seemingly counter-productive outcomes of the past 27 years of statutory safeguarding policy. The concern was prompted by several data-driven UK studies indicating that the ambitious new-Labour neo-liberal policies of early intervention had not delivered the expected results. This paper challenges the political and private sector’s rhetoric that increased funding for privatized services will reduce poor outcomes in child protection. Interviews with practitioners positioned throughout the child protection process showed remarkably similar results despite the different roles: that of deep cynicism that social work in the UK’s framework aligns with social justice. The need for resistance is outlined, together with the difficulties and challenges for social work to emerge as re-aligned with ‘just’ outcomes, and for service users to resist socially unjust interventions.

John Darroch: Political activity and statutory social work; how far are social workers allowed to go?

Social workers employed by the state face a range of organisational and legal restrictions which impact on their ability to engage in political activity. This paper draws upon recent court decisions, organisational guidelines, and legislation to analyse the nature of the limits that apply to statutory social workers in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. It argues that public servants are effectively prevented from publicly critiquing government policy, and organisational practice, when there is a direct connection between their critique and the work that they do. It is argued that such restrictions represent a significant conflict with social work ethics; including ethical requirements to draw attention to systemic injustices. Drawing on original research into political activity by social workers in New Zealand this paper will also show how such restrictions can have a chilling effect on the willingness of statutory social workers to engage in any iteration of political action.

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

avatar for Emily Keddell

Emily Keddell

Univ of Otago
Child protection: policy, inequalities, power, knowledge, decision-making, rights, algorithms, ethnicity.
avatar for Ian Hyslop

Ian Hyslop

Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland
Social justice and social work - the progress development of child and family practice.
avatar for Lauren Devine

Lauren Devine

Professor of Law & Ethics, University of the West of England
My research focuses on the legal and ethical balance between State power and private rights, particularly in public law processes, identifying hidden vulnerabilities and unintended consequences in welfare systems. I empirically evaluate the impact of consensual and non-consensual... Read More →

Thursday, December 5


Chair: Donna Baines

Ghodsi Izadi: New Zealand Children’s Participation In Policymaking to Alleviate Child Poverty

This study explores the extent to which children’s views are reflected in contemporary New Zealand policymaking processes focused on addressing child poverty. The current government is committed to centring children’s perspectives in policymaking efforts. Yet NZ and international research points to significant gaps between commitments to children’s participatory rights and realisation of these rights in practice, particularly for children from marginalised groups. To better understand this persistent slippage, this study analyses key policy documents related to the NZ Child Poverty Reduction Act (2018). The study methods include critical policy analysis and thematic analysis, informed interpretively by Policy Cycle Theory (Jann & Wegrich, 2007) and children’s participatory rights frameworks (Hanson, 2012). Emerging findings of the study illuminate three discourses that hinder children’s meaningful participation in policymaking processes: adult-driven power; vagueness; and lack of enforcement. The findings are relevant to efforts to enhance children’s meaningful, sustained participation in policy planning and implementation.

Gaylene Denford-Wood: A measure of wellbeing: New socio-poetic findings in social work settings

Social capital in the measurement of wellbeing ‘beyond GDP’ brings into focus key qualities of life. The Coalition Government’s (2019) Wellbeing Budget aims at tackling some of New Zealand’s long-term challenges, including mental health and wellbeing. What are the implications for education, health and social work? Renewal of morale in these sectors requires multi-faceted approaches. Schools have goals and wellbeing targets. Four elements are equally regarded: taha tinana (physical), taha hinengaro (mental and emotional), taha whanau (social), and taha wairua (spiritual), (Durie, 1994; Rix, 2017). To serve as positive role models, staff need to embody this hauora/wellbeing. One approach is to ameliorate stress by developing the capacity to live more positively in the present. Mindfulness is one evidence-based way. Connectedness, is key. A 2018 mindfulness study in an Australasian College of Education, Psychology and Social Work (Vice-Chancellor’s prize); using Heuristic Inquiry (N=6), found how connectedness (with self, others, environment etc.) can be readily accessed using a novel form of socio-poetic mindfulness. It supports the findings of traditional mindfulness researchers: To practise mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment, nonjudgmentally. The state of the human body is a source of knowledge as it explores the cognitive strength of one’s senses, emotions, and gestures, along with imagination, intuition and reasoning. The strength of socio- poetics (dos Santos and Gauthier, 2013) is in its artistic creativity in learning, knowing, researching and providing human care. This presentation highlights new understanding of how experience can come from the use of poetry—that Bochner (2000) deems poetic social science—and outlines new social work applications.

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

avatar for Gaylene Denford-Wood

Gaylene Denford-Wood

Student, The Learning Connexion (TLC) School of Creativity and Art
I am developing creative ways to make my doctoral research in the workshops I run, more accessible, user-friendly and fun.
avatar for Ghodsi Izadi

Ghodsi Izadi

PhD student, Lecturer in Research Principles at NZSAO, Children\'s Book Author, The University of Auckland; The School of Acupuncture And Traditional Chinese Medicine
I am pursuing my full-time PhD programme at the Faculty of Education and Social Work in the University of Auckland. I am conducting my research in the field of Child Poverty and involving children (as active citizens) in the processes of policy-making around child poverty particularly... Read More →


Chair: Liz Beddoe

Eileen Joy and John Darroch: Social work- a non-violent profession?

This presentation will critically interrogate the social work profession’s commitment to non-violence. We start out by troubling the binary between violent and non-violent actions and discuss how this can obscure both the structural and the interpersonal elements of violence. In using a Foucauldian lens we will interrogate how certain ‘violences’ are normalised (those used in state child protection and justice work) and sanitised while others are pathologized. It is posited that there is a fundamental contradiction between the professed commitments of social work, and thus social workers, and many of the functions we are tasked with carrying out. We ask whether it is even possible for social workers to work within these institutions. We conclude that when social work is done in a compromised system (and even society) then we need to accept, and challenge the commitment to non-violence and move away from a binaried understanding of this.

Liz Beddoe: Where’s feminism gone? The silence of social work about reproductive justice

The IFSW definition of social work includes a commitment to social justice and human rights. Despite a rights perspective, abortion remains on the margins of social work curriculum, research, advocacy and practice. Recently, a plethora of social movements have mobilised in the quest for decriminalisation in democratic nations: signalling a shift towards reproductive justice.
In this presentation we explore the role of social work in campaigns to remove abortion from criminal codes (in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) while agitating for improved abortion access, as a key determinant of women’s rights and overall wellbeing. We found only a handful of social work activists. The profession as a whole has been largely silent on abortion rights. We explore this apparent lethargy and indifference to reproduction as a feminist issue for social work in Aotearoa and argue we must disrupt the profession’s gender blindness and make explicit its commitment to reproductive justice.

Sarah Epstein, Sevi Vassos and Norah Hosken: Social work education, research and practice from a feminist critical perspective: Collaboration as socially just practice

This paper presents lessons we (the authors) have learnt in our attempt to establish a feminist critical research and teaching collaboration within a university-based social work education program. The collaboration, called Critical Edge Women (CrEW), interrogates women’s varied experiences of engaging with power relations whilst attempting to embody a socially-just pedagogy and practice within the neoliberal academy. The assumptions grounding our work emerge from two separate, yet interconnected positions: First, our own understandings as feminist social work educators who espouse relational teaching and learning processes. Second, our commitment to privileging women’s experiences (as diverse as they are) in all our research and advocacy efforts. This presentation offers insights into addressing the nexus between social work education, research and practice for social justice from a feminist critical perspective.

Stephanie Kelly & Abbie Ranui: Crafting relationship with Tangata Whaiora through practice: The craftsmanship of the mental health support worker

In 1973, the seminal sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote about craftsmanship and the meaning of work. He described craftsmanship as a state of daily work which is meaningful because the daily work is not detached in the worker's mind from the product of the work. For Mills the craftsperson sees the place of their part in the whole process of work, and thus understands the meaning of their exertion in terms of that whole. If work, in some of its phases, has ‘the taint of travail and vexation and mechanical drudgery’, the craftsman manages these junctures by awareness and anticipation of a satisfying product.
Qualitative research conducted with six residential mental health support workers in Aotearoa New Zealand suggests that unlike other clinical roles where practice is more rules bound, the residential mental health support worker crafts a relationship with tangata whaiora through the intimate nature of daily practical tasks in all their travail, vexation and mechanical drudgery. The mental health support worker does this using the practice skills of observation, responsiveness, experience and time, to both guide practice and maintain the relationship with tangata whaiora, bringing immense meaning to their work. This meaning making is felt and experienced, non-discursive, and always intentional. While other health and social service work becomes increasingly bound by neoliberal risk management, compliance, competencies, and reporting, the non-professionalized mental health support worker continues the art of craftsmanship. We present the findings of how these workers craft the relationship, meaning and practice, and suggest that policy moves to shift this role toward further professionalization may have an impact on what may be one of the last social service crafts in our neoliberal times.

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

Friday, December 6


Chair: Liz Beddoe

Donna Baines: White Fragility, Populism and Late Neoliberalism

Xenophobia, anti-immigrant backlash and racism are an increasingly present aspect of society. Underlying this backlash is a set of practices known as white fragility (DiAngelo 2011). White fragility is the inability for those from dominant groups to accept even minor critique from subordinated groups, to ally themselves with social justice or to embrace the leadership of those who are marginalised in making meaningful social change. Though social work is well-positioned to resist xenophobic discourses, more than thirty years of neoliberalism means that many social service agencies have been restructured to reflect private market ideology, and there are few spaces left in which to debate social justice issues openly within the workplace or to collectively develop strategies to address emerging needs and rising social tensions. This paper will theorize white fragility and place it within the context of late neoliberalism. It will draw on two vignettes to explore how white fragility operates within everyday social work practice and how it is resisted by those seeking social justice and equity.

Bindi Bennett: Acknowledgements in Aboriginal social work research: how to counteract neo-colonial academic complacency

Much current research continues to present Aboriginal voices, knowledges and cultures in an historical white colonial context associated with power, privilege and entitlement. This approach, conscious or unconscious, perpetuates racism, dispossession and epistemicide. Colonial conventions in research, such as who is designated as a lead author and giving individuals the choice as to who, when, where and if they acknowledge their sources creates subtle yet offensive ways to abuse, de-voice and re-colonise Aboriginal peoples. Tokenistic collaboration, consultation and allyship practices put Aboriginal intellectual sovereignty at risk. It is long overdue for Aboriginal people to become active and fully recognised agents in research and for Aboriginal cultural ideas, values and principles to be placed as the forefront; only then can we decolonise social work and create culturally responsive research. Social workers and academics must form allegiance with Aboriginal people and recognise their need to maintain independence and to determine their own approaches and practices in research.

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

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Liz Beddoe

Professor, University of Auckland


Chair: Neil Ballantyne

Stephen Parker: Mapping the counter-intuitive: the social work/social justice divide

A core aim of social work is to improve the lives of families in need of help and support during difficult times. When outcomes do not reflect this aim, legitimate questions about whether interventions are socially just must be asked. However, social work interventions operate within a framework of law and policy and this arguably constrains the ability of social workers to carry out therapeutic work with families rather than focus on a swift outcome for a child. This paper presents findings from UK research which considers the impact of important but diverse statutory and policy changes to child protection case management. Key, relevant policy developments are discussed which include a statutory move towards mandatory reporting, a judicial change to more rigorous case management protocol in the courts, a social work review of child protection processes completed for the government and revised statutory guidance.
All these changes have been implemented since 2004 across three UK Governments and a backdrop of austerity. However, they did not lead to the expected fall in the number of cases where children were removed from their families. The paper ‘tells the story’ of how these changes draw social work away from socially just outcomes.

Michelle Newcomb: By the people for the people: Challenging social work practice using Dorothy E. Smith’s sociology

Social work processes and organisations can replicate institutional power and privilege, despite the professions aim of social justice. The work of Canadian sociologist Dorothy E. Smith provides a lens for examining unjust institutional practices but has received limited attention within social work. A Marxist, feminist Smith developed a form of sociology which examined people’s day to day activities and how they relate to wider regimes of institutional power. Smith (2005) is renowned for her development of feminist, standpoint theory but also institutional ethnography; a method of inquiry that examines how dominant ideologies are exercised within institutional practices. This presentation with explore how current neoliberal ideology and manageralist processes which dominate social work organisations can be challenged and resisted using Smith’s sociology. By engaging with Smith’s work, it is hoped social workers, can engage in transformative social change which is in Smith’s (2005, p.10) words: “by the people for the people.”

Ashleigh Price & Stephanie Kelly: Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Non-government Social Work

This thesis is concerned with the impact of government policy on social work in non-government organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand. It aims to increase understanding of how NGO social workers remain dedicated to the pursuit of social justice and social change in their day to day practice. This is key to understanding the future of ethical and principled social work practice in the NGO sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The findings of this research are informed by interviews with five experienced social work practitioners currently practicing in NGOs in Aotearoa New Zealand. Thematic analysis of the research data found that an overarching theme to emerge characterised contemporary NGO social work as a practice manifested by a sense of powerlessness. Five sub-themes emerged from the findings; freedom and powerlessness; the application of the principle of social justice at a macro level; professional dissonance; issues of funding and resourcing as a result of neoliberal economic policy; and policy, realities and ‘othering’. Overall this study seeks to build understanding of the impacts of government policy on social work practice in the NGO sector and how this can be enhanced for better outcomes for practitioners and service users.

Neil Ballantyne: Theorising the algorithmic state

Modern states have been early adopters of information technologies as tools to enable the governance of their populations. Citizen users of the services provided by the state – health, education, housing, corrections, child protection and income maintenance – routinely submit personal data in order to gain access to services. In neoliberal states with highly stratified populations, it is the poor and the disadvantaged who are the primary users of social services and the objects of state sponsored data collection. In the age of big data, data linkage and machine learning, neoliberal state actors are increasingly applying calculative practices on linked databases to measure, monitor and predict the risks presented by population groups. This paper will review the literature to trace the ways in which social theory is responding to the rise of the phenomena of algorithmic regulation and the challenges these practices present for human rights, social justice and social equity.

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


Michelle Newcomb

Lecturer, Griffith University
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Neil Ballantyne

Senior Lecturer, The Open Polytechnic
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Stephen Parker

Senior Lecturer, University of the West of England
I am a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England researching the role of risk prediction and decision making in public law interference in private life with a focus primarily on families, child protection and safeguarding. I teach law cross discipline to forensics undergraduates... Read More →


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.

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.

avatar for Liz Beddoe

Liz Beddoe

Professor, University of Auckland
avatar for Neil Ballantyne

Neil Ballantyne

Senior Lecturer, The Open Polytechnic
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