Reimagining Social Work (RSW) is a collective of social workers, social work academics, researchers and others who share a commitment to the development of modern, progressive, inclusive, democratic and culturally responsive social work services in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, Deb Stanfield interviews Emily Keddell (University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand) for the RSW collective. Emily speaks to The Prevention Project: Supporting Whānau and Reducing Baby Removals, a project undertaken with colleagues Luke Fitzmaurice and Kerri Cleaver.
Emily explains the background to the project and shares its key findings, which include the important mediating role of community social workers and other professionals, the value of a poverty-informed perspective, and the role of community building initiatives to improve social networks of whānau. Improving the pathways into, and availability of, early, intensive, culturally responsive services and enabling a whole of whānau orientation to practice are key promoters of preventing entry to care.
Devolving power and resources to build the availability of such services, particularly by Māori, for Māori services, was suggested as a way to help build the capacity of these kinds of services. Whānau involved with Oranga Tamariki around the time of birth reported the trusting, non-judgemental and supportive relationships with community-based workers, and focussing on intrinsic motivating factors such as love for children, helped them navigate Oranga Tamariki intervention, and their own personal struggles, to retain care.
In this episode, Ian Hyslop interviews Paul Garrett of NUI (National University of Ireland, Galway) for the RSW Collective. Paul is a much read and respected theorist and writer in relation to the political context of social work and its implications for education and practice futures.
Dr Garrett discusses his recent response to the provocative ‘end of social work’ critique offered by Chris Maylea. While acknowledging the difficulties associated with critical practice he suggests that social work does not sit outside of the tensions facing the liberal capitalist system globally. Referring to Gramsci’s notion of ‘conjunctures’ he points to climate change, uneven social suffering, the geopolitical unrest which is fuelling a refugee and migrant crisis, and the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Add to this the political resurgence of the populist right and unprecedented for state surveillance and we indeed are living at a challenging cross roads. Garrett argues that we can not choose to live apart from these structuring realities – but that where there is power and reaction there is resistance and solidarity. As workers and social citizens there is, as there always has been, a different world to be won. Dissent is a necessity
In this conversation, Emily Keddell discusses the history of child welfare in Aotearoa with Ian Hyslop. Ian’s forthcoming book on the subject sparks a wide ranging discussion of the intersections between historical events, reforms politics and practices with the concerns and practices of the current system.
Neil Ballantyne is in conversation with Iain Fergusson, professor of social work, advisory editor of the journal of Critical and Radical Social Work and co-founder of the Social Work Action Network. Neil talks to Iain about the radical social work tradition and how radical social workers can maintain their stance in these deeply neoliberal times.
Emily Keddell is in conversation with Liz Beddoe about feminist theory in social work. Emily asks Liz about the different types of feminist theory, about their application to social work practice and about the continuing importance of feminism for social workers.
Neil Ballantyne interviews Liz Beddoe about the social policy text she edited with Jane Maidment. Neil asks Liz three questions: What is social policy? What is unique about social policy in Aotearoa?Why do social work students need to study social policy?
Deb Stanfield of the RSW Collective interviews Julie Peake, a social worker whose career spans many roles primarily within the field of child protection in Aotearoa. Most recently she was appointed as child protection technical assistant in Vanuatu, a role developed collaboratively by Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) and UNICEF, and which saw Julie working alongside a local team to develop their child protection systems. She arrived in Vanuatu in February 2020 after many months of preparation and consultation, only to return to Aotearoa when the pandemic necessitated closing of international borders. In this podcast Julie reflects on the task she was invited to undertake, and her learning from this post, albeit brief, about what it meant to be a New Zealand social worker in Vanuatu, how she carried her child protection experience into this small Pacific nation, and some initial thoughts about what the global Covid crisis might mean for social work.
Resources referred to by Julie in the podcast
Family Violence Death Review Committee. (2020). Sixth report: Men who use violence | Te Pūrongo tuaono: Ngā tāne ka whakamahi i te whakarekereke. Wellington, NZ.
Ravulo, J., Mafile’o, T., & Yates, D. B. (Eds.). (2019). Pacific Social Work: Navigating Practice, Policy and Research: Routledge.
Deb Stanfield of the RSW Collective is in conversation with Raewyn Nordstrom who describes herself as a Creative Native Disruptor. In this podcast she reflects with Deb on her work as a Family Group Conference (FGC) Coordinator for Oranga Tamariki, Aotearoa New Zealand’s child protection service – work which began with facilitation of the first FGC to be held in Aotearoa, (and in the world), and ended with her retirement in early 2019.
In this podcast, Raewyn remembers the important development of Pūao-te-Āta-tū and the golden promise of the early days. She recalls a challenge from a kaumatua about the notion of whānau decision making, and how she in turn challenged managers to support ideas brought forward by whānau and families.
Raewyn comments on her experience as wahine Māori in this role and the ‘creative native disrupting’ skills needed to ensure the rights and needs of mokopuna (children) and whānau were met. Her stories also highlight her focus on providing consistency for whānau and her colleagues over the many social, legislative, policy and management changes of the last three decades.
The following “unfiltered” podcast was recorded in a small re-purposed shed on an old dairy farm situated in the land of Ngāti Maniapoto in the Waikato region of Aotearoa. It begins with a story about the world’s first FGC, held in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) in November 1989 and ends with a beautiful waiata sung by Raewyn and her daughter Taaniko Nordstrom, who kept us company in the shed while we talked.
Deb Stanfield of the RSW Collective interviews Liz Beddoe about proposed reforms to the abortion laws in Aotearoa. At the end of October this year, the New Zealand Law Commission released a briefing paper: Alternative Approaches to Abortion Law. This paper provides three alternative legal models to existing abortion legislation, all of which recommend that abortion be repealed from the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, and be treated as a health issue. Liz Beddoe is Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Liz has been deeply and actively interested in the abortion debate for decades, and in this podcast with Deb she shares her analysis of the briefing paper and explores problems with the current law – how it contravenes basic human rights for example, and creates unnecessary complexity for women seeking abortions. Dr Beddoe explains in plain language why social workers should care about this issue, what we should know, and how we can prepare ourselves for the coming months of debate.
Deb Stanfield of the RSW Collective interviews Amy Ross, national organiser for Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest union, the Public Service Association (PSA) Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi. She is also founder and organiser of the Social Work Action Network (SWAN), which is a network within the PSA that aims to unify and advocate for social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this podcast Amy Ross shares her experience of what she describes as the remarkable strategic victory of bringing about the first step in gender pay equity to social workers in this country. In conversation with Deb Stanfield she celebrates the courage of the original claimants, and the genuine partnership between the union and Oranga Tamariki (Aotearoa New Zealand’s child protection agency). Amy applies a critical lens to this significant historic event for women and for the profession of social work – an event she describes as taking us to a ‘whole new level of discourse.’