For some time now I have been working with parents of children who have been removed by Families SA the child protection agency in South Australia. Even though this work has not been all that financially rewarding there is something about this work which represents social work in its purist form. Representing clients who are the most marginalised in our community is what social work is meant to do. In all our work it is about acknowledging the strengths, dignity and worth of all our clients. In this work it is imperative that we use our social work skills to enhance the experiences of people who have suffered the extreme experience of having their children removed from them or being removed from their family.
The work of social workers within child protection is vital because it is about keeping children safe. The childs needs are paramount and this is certainly acknowledged myself through the work I do. However the system and the practice of some social workers needs to be challenged. Here is the problem. This is such a complicated area and one which needs to be understood and critiqued. I am the first to admit that I don't understand all that I can about child protection but I am able to inform my practice in this area by adhering to the basic principles of practice as outlined through the AASW's code of ethics and the Practice Manual. The practice manual states that regardless of the area in which we work the principles of practice remain the same. When offering a critique of practice we need to keep this in mind.
I have been criticised for offering a critique of practice and recently I have had two different clients tell me that they have been told that I have a vendetta against Families SA. I need to be clear here that this could not be furtherest from the truth. The reality is that there are some social workers who don't understand the difference between a difference of opinion and personal criticism. I am open to a critique of my own practice and welcome the opportunity to talk about what I do and why I do it and what it means to the client and the community. It interests me that some social workers from Families SA will not engage in this process. What they seem to do is disengage from conversations and in two instance have refused to have conversations with me about the clients we jointly represent. This has proved to disadvantage the client and prohibited my practice by disengaging with me when issues of paramount concern to the client are not relaid to the clients social worker. This effectively is restrictive of trade and contravenes the AASW Code of Ethics. More of the impact of this in another post.