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Dr Rory Truell - Secretary-General of the IFSW

Dr Rory Truell - Secretary-General of the IFSW

18th Jan 2018

We start 2018 on an auspicious note with Dr Rory Truell, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). His presentation on the Trends and Developments on the Social Work Profession gave us an overview of the work of the Federation and global trends.

Social Work is a profession that is growing globally. IFSW membership now spans 127 countries around represents 3 million individual social workers. The Federation has consultative status to the United Nations and is one of the few organisations for social change where every one of its individual members is a highly skilled professional dealing at the coalface of multi-faceted, complex social issues.

More governments understand that the social work approach of working with multidimensional factors of poverty or marginalisation is making a difference in improving lives. For every $1 invested in social services, there is a minimum of a $3 return on investment (Probono Australia, 2009). While social workers have been reticent in the past to comment on economics, the nature of what we do puts us in a good position to comment on economic policy. Social workers see the impacts of economic policy implemented on the ground and see the long-term impacts of good and poor policy.

Dr Truell inspired us with a number of stories of social workers making a difference all around the world, everywhere from warzones, natural disasters and extreme poverty in Africa. 

ISFW will hold its general meeting in Dublin, Ireland in June 2018 to set the global agenda for the next 10 years. 2017’s World Social Work Day theme focused on the environmental impacts on social work. Australia has played a key role in developing social work with environmental sustainability.

Australia is engaged with natural disasters which occur in our region. Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines in 2013 caused widespread devastation. However, a social work-led response to the disaster was used as an opportunity to improve the conditions of those who lived there before Yolanda occurred. Dr Truell contrasted this example with another part of the Philippines which did not involve the skills of social workers in the disaster recovery effort. The results of the social work-led response were much better.  

Leading on Australia's role of social work in disaster recovery, Dr Truell interviewed AASW President Christine Craik about the role of social workers during the Victorian fires, which caused those affected to lose all material possessions. You can view the video on YouTube. 

Dr Truell ended by showing us a video of communities and social workers coming together to participate in a public protest against funding cuts to social services in Spain. The video showed there is widespread community support for maintaining vital social services throughout the world and that the impacts are felt when funding cuts to social services are imposed. It is good policy to invest in a fairer and more prosperous society.

We thank everyone who listened on webinar and put questions to Dr Truell. We also thank Dr Truell for his time.

The YouTube video of Dr Truell interviewing AASW National President Christine Craik is here. 

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers