India Network of Professional Social Workers’ Associations (INPSWA) in collaboration with Dept. of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS and Dept. of Sociology & Social Work, CHRIST ( Deemed to be University ), Bengaluru, India jointly hosted the 25th Asia-Pacific Joint Regional Social Work Conference of International Federation of Social Workers – Asia-Pacific ( IFAP ) and Asian and Pacific Association for Social Work Education ( APASWE ) from 17th to 20th September, 2019 at Bengaluru. This was the FIRST ever biennial IFSW Regional Conference to be organized in India.
The Pre Conference was held at CHRIST ( Deemed to be University ) and the main Conference was held at the Convention Centre of NIMHANS, Bengaluru. The theme of the Conference was ` Social Work Partnerships towards an Equal Society-Asia Pacific Perspective’. The Conference sub themes were formulated based on current global and local social scenarios of concern and which needed to be visualised within the framework of ` Inclusive Partnerships and Equality’. The 10 sub themes were : Social Work Partnerships, Social Development, Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Green Social Work, Cultural Diversity and Social Work, Social Policy – Programmes for Public Reach ; Children, Youth, Women and Elderly, Correctional Social Work, Health & Wellbeing, and Corporate Social Responsibility & Industrial Social Work.
The conference attended by 531 delegates ( 165 foreign delegates from 31 countries & 366 delegates from India ) witnessed 213 oral presentations, 68 e-presentations and 57 poster presentations on the various sub themes.
The Conference commenced on 17th September, 2019 with Pre-Conference seminars hosted by CHRIST (Deemed to be University) and was formally inaugurated by Ms. Rose Henderson, President of IFSW – Asia Pacific Region. The seminars were held on two themes namely, ‘Indigeneity in Asia and Pacific Social Work’ and ‘The Role of Social Workers working with Female Domestic Workers Crossing National Borders’. In addition to the seminars, in association with Japanese Federation of Social Workers, Japan a workshop on `Change in Social Work relationship through Cultural Heritage and Creative Expressions’ was also organized. The workshop was moderated by Prof. Mariko Kimura, Past President, IFSW-AP. This was followed by delegates spending time networking with fellow participants and later the students from CHRIST (Deemed to be University) energized & enlivened the participants through a very scintillating cultural programme and the eventful day ended with a welcome dinner at the venue.
The main Conference was inaugurated on 18th September 2019 at NIMHANS Convention Centre. The chief guest at the inaugural, Prof. K B Akhilesh, a trained social worker and Dean of Engineering & Senior Professor of Management, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and President, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology encouraged social workers to stand for equality and social harmony through dialogues.
Subsequent to the inaugural programme, keynote address was delivered by Prof. R. R. Singh, Former Head, Delhi School of Social Work, New Delhi and Former Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. This was followed by first plenary session on the theme ‘Social Work Partnerships towards an Equal Society – SDG Perspective’ followed by two parallel sessions. On day two, 19th September 2019, the day’s program began with a panel discussion on ‘Impact of Social Work Education and Practice in Asia-Pacific’ followed by two parallel sessions, open forum of professional bodies and time to network. The third important scientific deliberation was the second plenary session on ‘Building Inclusive Societies’, which was held on 20th September 2019 followed by two parallel sessions. Various symposiums held on these three days focussed on the following themes: Skill building for Livelihood ; Enhancing Institutional and Community Resilience to Disaster and Climate Change ; Empowerment of Married Adolescent Girls – Challenges and Solutions: Karnataka (India) A Case Study ; Psychosocial Rehabilitation of Children in Conflict with the Law: Kerala Model, India and Police Well-Being – Tamil Nadu Model, India.
The four days event formally ended with a Valedictory function held on 20th September 2019 at NIMHANS Convention Centre. The chief guest, Prof. Y S Siddegowda, a trained social worker and currently Vice-Chancellor of Tumkur University, Karnataka and former Professor of Social Work, Mysore University urged all social workers to strive to establish the identity through professionalization and indigenisation. He also pointed out that 21st century is the Century of Social Sciences. The hosts and the invited dignitaries from IFSW, IFSW-AP, APASWE & IASSW honouring the dais thanked the invitees, delegates and organizers for making APSWC 2019 an enriching, inspiring, effective and memorable event for the social work fraternity. On the occasion Dr. Jioji Jovesa Ravulo from Australia, shared his feedback in one word, ‘WOW’, where he explained the acronym, W stands for wonderful presentations, O for opportunity for connecting each other and last letter W stands where to next. Mr. Kzuyoshi Kotake, a delegate from Japan gave feedback on stage that “the time spent in Bengaluru was highly fruitful” and thanked the organizers for warm hospitality. Similarly, representatives from Africa, Philippines and India too shared their encouraging feedback about of the Conference. Dr. Rory G Truell, Secretary General, IFSW motivated the audience through en masse hailing of social work slogans “Social Work – Human Rights” and “Social Work – Social Justice” and facilitated a `group selfie’ to capture the memorable moment of togetherness and express solidarity with all social workers from across the world.
The APSWC 2019 undoubtedly served the objective of enabling exchange and sharing of experiences, ideas, challenges, methods, and successful innovative social work interventions in addition to providing an ideal platform to network with peer professionals, experience the local culture & cuisine and hospitality, discern & live through glimpse of ` Incredible India ’ from close quarters.
The local organisers of APSWC 2019 heartily thank the dignitaries from global partners namely, Ms. Rose Henderson, President, IFSW-AP, Prof. Dr. Zulkarnain A Hatta, President, APASWE, Prof. Annamaria Campanini, President, IASSW, Dr. Rory G Truell, Secretary General, IFSW, Dr. Viktor Virag, Board Member, APASWE, Prof. Mariko Kimura, Past President, IFSW-AP, Ms. Irene Leung, Vice President, IFSW-AP for their august presence and for their active, insightful and thought provoking contributions throughout the Conference proceedings. Special thanks is also extended to Ms. Silvana Martinez, President – IFSW for her inspiring message & remotely keeping connected with Conference deliberations.
And last but not the least is the sincere acknowledgement for the whole hearted support and cooperation rendered by the Conference Patrons, Prof. B N Gangadhar, Director & Vice Chancellor, NIMHANS, Dr. Fr. Abraham V Mani, Vice Chancellor, CHRIST ( Deemed to be University ) & Prof. Y S Siddegowda, Vice Chancellor, Tumkur University. The success of any event is evidenced by exemplary team work, commitment & devotion which was optimally demonstrated by the key organising committee members namely, Prof. L S Ghandi Doss, Prof. K Sekar, Prof. Victor Paul, Prof. Sanjai Bhatt, Fr. Dr. Prasant Palakkappillil, Prof. D Muralidhar, Prof. A Thirumoorthy, Mr. N V Vasudeva Sharma, Dr. Shobhana R Thakrar, Dr. K Hemalatha, Prof. R Dhanasekara Pandian, other prominent committee members of INPSWA & the Faculty members of Dept. of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS & Dept. of Sociology & Social Work, CHRIST ( Deemed to be University ).
M V Sriganesh