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AASW Conference was fantastic but where were the child protection workers?

by PeakCare on 9th November 2011

Home -> Articles -> 2011 -> November -> AASW Conference was fantastic but where were the child protection workers?

Congratulations to the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) for conducting a well-organised, entertaining and highly informative Biennial Conference. Held in Townsville from 4th to 6th November, the Conference was incredibly well-attended and featured a range of high calibre keynote and session speakers.

PeakCare Queensland was pleased to sponsor the Conference’s Welcome Cocktail Reception and feature a trade display that attracted a high level of patronage that enabled our networks to be extended with universities and other individuals and groups expressing an active interest in partnering with PeakCare on some joint endeavours.

PeakCare Queensland Inc., One of the major sponsors of this year’s event

Amidst the range of contemporary issues presented and discussed at the Conference that were of enormous significance to child protection theory and practice, the disappointing note to the Conference concerned the notable absence of Child Protection Workers from both Government and non-Government sectors. I’ve no doubt that the reasons for this may be many and varied and are, at least in part, symptomatic of a decline in the proportion of the child protection workforce who are qualified Social Workers.

Representing Griffith University: Professor Lesley Chenoweth, Head of Campus (Logan), Deputy Vice Chancellor & Provost; Associate Professor Donna McAuliffe, Academic Staff, School of Human Services & Social Work; Professor Patrick O’Leary, Head of School, Administration, School of Human Services & Social Work

Pleasingly, I had the opportunity to raise this as an issue of concern during an impromptu speech delivered during the Welcome Cocktail Reception and, if the rousing cheers that came from the audience in response to my call for a return of the Social Work profession to the child protection field is anything to go by, I am hopeful that the 2013 AASW Conference will see far greater numbers of Child Protection Workers in attendance.

Child Protection cannot afford to rely solely on the academics to continue to wave the Child Protection flag, notwithstanding the fact that they did so admirably throughout the Conference. Managers, practitioners and policy-makers from both Government and non-Government sectors must also play their part in ensuring that the rich and valued contribution of the Social Work profession to child protection service delivery is maintained and built upon. This is not intended to diminish the valued contribution of other professional and para-professional disciplines. There are however some difficult questions that may need to be asked and answered about why Social Work as a profession with such a long history of involvement in shaping child protection theory and practice has retreated from this particular field of work.

Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland Inc., & Toni Cash, Team Leader – Sexual Abuse Counselling Services, Child Safety (one of the two representatives from the Department of Communities)

To compensate, at least in part, for the notable absence of Child Protection Workers during the AASW Conference, PeakCare intends making use of blog posts and our E-News over oncoming weeks to highlight, with the permission of the presenters, some of the matters addressed during the Conference. This may not be quite as good as having been there, but will, at least, enable some very important information to be aired and considered.

Vanessa Walker, PeakCare Queensland Inc., & Donna McAuliffe, Academic Staff, School of Human Services & Social Work

From PeakCare’s perspective, the biggest message to come from the 2011 AASW Biennial Conference is, “Bring on the 2013 Conference and let’s make sure that Child Protection Workers are represented in force!”

Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland