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Published: 15 March 2021

World Social Work Day (16 March 2021) is the annual celebration where social workers across the globe stand together to highlight the contributions of their profession, raise the visibility of social services and reaffirm their commitment to defend social justice and human rights.

Australian Association of Social Workers, Chief Executive Cindy Smith said for more than three decades World Social Work Day has been a major feature of the social work calendar.

“This year highlights the theme of Ubuntu: I am Because We Are – Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness, a concept and philosophy that resonates with the social work perspective of the interconnectedness of all peoples and their environments.”

“At a time when global politics has become partisan, Ubuntu is a powerful message that our future is dependent on recognizing everyone’s involvement in co-building a sustainable, fair and socially just future,” she said.

Ms Smith said the social work profession in Australia is very broad and diverse, and at times misunderstood, unseen and undervalued by government and some sections of the general public.

“The principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work, so it is important on a day such as World Social Work Day to highlight our role in facilitating social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.”

“While social workers play a crucial role working with individuals, families, groups and community health and wellbeing, they also are heavily involved in developing social policy, in management, leadership and administration, in education and training, and in research.”

“Social workers often work across different areas of practice and might be known by different titles – case worker, family therapist, consultant, allied health clinician, child safety officer, or senior research assistant, counsellors or welfare officers and this can, at times, be confusing for the general public.”

“Social workers are concerned with the biological, psychological, social and cultural wellbeing of individuals, families and communities, working in the context of their environments, their past and current lived experiences, and their cultural and belief systems.”

“It is rewarding, gratifying, physically and mentally draining work that, at times, can go unnoticed by the wider population. So, it is important on an occasion like World Social Work Day, that we take the opportunity to celebrate and restate the vital role every social worker plays in assisting society’s most vulnerable people, and challenging and addressing the systemic and structural issues that create inequality, injustice and discrimination in our society and across the globe,” Ms Smith said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers