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NSW Branch - Connect:ED Webinar - The Power of Language in Defining Who We Are, and How We Impact as a Profession

Event Details
Date: Wednesday 24 March 2021
Time: 12.00pm-12.30pm
Venue: Online
State: NSW
CPD hrs: 0.5hr


Organiser: AASW NSW


  • Event date has passed
  • Registrations are closed

0.5 CPD hour

It’s all in the Words: The Power of Language in Defining Who We Are, and How We Impact as a Profession.

Presenter: Dr Brenda Clare, Clare Consultancy, UWA

Brenda has been a social worker for over 40 years, specialising in child protection and child placement before she joined the staff of the UWA social work programme in 2001. She left the university in 2012, and continued her links with UWA as an Honorary Research Fellow until 2019. Brenda joined the AASW in 1987 when she moved to Perth from the United Kingdom. She has completed two terms as a Director on the National Board. Brenda was very privileged to complete her social work education with teachers who placed professional relationships at the heart of practice, and who required students to own their professional authority; they argued that empowered practice requires the capacity to influence hearts and minds and to manage conflict creatively. This learning has stayed with her throughout her career.

This Presentation is based on a paper presented at the 2019 AASW symposium which was inspired by a conversation with colleagues, all of whom are deeply committed to social work, who were seeking a collective noun for a gathering of social workers. Although light hearted in intent, I was dismayed by the negative connotations of offerings such as a grump, and a confusion. The terms did not indicate a sense of collective professional empowerment and strength. I would like to reflect on some of the reasons, historical and current, for this situation and to consider the implications for the future potency of social work and social workers of the absence of a clear and positive collective identity.

The paper is based on the long-held belief that all social workers have to work with is words, and the language we chose is never neutral; it facilitates or impedes the achievement of complex goals in multiple practice settings. How we define our role, task and relationship with other stakeholders is limited by the language available to us, and the philosophical, political and relational discourses through which it is given meaning.

There are many grand challenges facing social work in a society, national and global, where trust is eroded and hope diminished. To remain relevant and potent, I argue that social workers must make a concerted effort to find the strength-based language that best defines and energises us as a collective.

This AASW NSW Connect:ED webinar is part of a series helping Social Workers to connect with new ideas and reflect on their own practice. We focus on bringing everyday social workers to talk about their practice, ideas and experiences of social work.

Webinars are 30 minutes (including short Q&A) and where agreed with the presenter, will be recorded for those who cannot participate in real time.

Registrations are open to everyone nationally.


Date: Wednesday 24 March 2021

Time: 12noon (AEDT)

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers