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AASW’s Policy Position on Climate Change


"Climate change is the greatest challenge that we face and as social workers we are united in our call for immediate action from governments in Australia, and across the world. The changes confronting our environment because of global warming are already profound and extensive, making climate policy an urgent responsibility for governments"

AASW Declares a Climate Emergency, 2019

In line with our strategic plan and the Code of Ethics the AASW is deeply commitment to working towards a sustainable and socially just environment through individual, cultural and structural change. As social workers, we work with communities who are hardest hit by climate change and we appreciate that while climate change is affecting the entire population, the social, health and economic burden is falling most heavily on already vulnerable people.

Position Statements

Date Title
2017 AASW and Climate and Health Alliance Declaration on Climate Change
October 2019 AASW declares a climate emergency (see below)

Posistion Statement: AASW declares a climate emergency

October 2019

Australian social workers have joined social workers worldwide in declaring a climate emergency

Climate change is the greatest challenge that we face and as social workers, and we are united in our call for immediate action from governments in Australia, and across the world. The changes confronting our environment because of global warming are already profound and extensive, making climate policy an urgent responsibility for governments.

As social workers, we work with communities who are hardest hit by climate change and we appreciate that while climate change is affecting the entire population, the social, health and economic burden is falling most heavily on already vulnerable people.

A significant number of environmental disasters as a result of climate change are occurring in the Asia-Pacific region (especially Pacific island nations) and the burden on communities and the consequences of this make it very much an issue for Australian social workers.

The socioeconomic status of individuals, groups and communities is directly linked to their ability to adapt to increased extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods. As we continue to see heat records being broken, increased electricity prices alone can further compound poverty and disadvantage.

For social workers, climate change is also a social justice issue. People's right to a sustainable environment is identified in our professional Code of Ethics.

Australia is failing to address climate change as evidenced by the continued drop in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals global rankings. Australia is now ranked 37th in the world SDG Index (down from 26th) and behind New Zealand, Canada, the USA and the UK.

Climate action is needed urgently, and we need to begin by listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as they have lived sustainably with the land for over 40,000 years.

In declaring a climate emergency, the AASW renews its call for immediate government action to reduce emissions and meet our SDG and IPCC commitments.

AASW Policy Actions

The AASW is engaging on climate action through various forms including:

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers