The six month period from July to December 2014 has been a busy and very productive time. At the IFSW General Meeting in Melbourne the long tenure of John Ang as regional president was acknowledged as he was farewelled from this role. Mariko Kimura from Japan was elected unopposed as regional president and Rose Henderson from Aotearoa New Zealand was elected unopposed as the Asia Pacific Member at Large. The region is also delighted that Eva Ponce de Leon from the Philippines was elected as the IFSW treasurer. Eva replaces Fiona Robertson from New Zealand who has been treasurer for many years and was also farewelled from this role at the General Meeting. Immediately following the General Meeting at the first meeting of the IFSW Executive Committee, Mariko was elected as the IFSW First Vice President.
Also at the General Meeting, the Tangata Whenua Social Workers Association from Aotearoa New Zealand was welcomed as a new member of IFSW in our region. Since then we have also welcomed Nepal as another new member of IFSW in our region. It is very exciting to see the continued growth of members of the international and regional family of social work and we look forward to the involvement of these members in our regional business.
Immediately following the General Meeting in July and August we expressed our deep concern at the increase in violence in the Gaza Strip urging a peaceful resolution to the immediate and longstanding issues in this part of our region. We acknowledge the stress, distress and hard work of our members in Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries as they continue to work in this very difficult context.
In August, led by our new member the Tangata Whenua Social Workers Association, an IFSW Asia Pacific (IFAP) working group was established to work together with the Asia Pacific Association of Social Work Educators (APASWE) working group to consider and recommend a possible regional amplification of the new 2014 definition of social work. This work is ongoing and due to be reported on at the regional meetings in Thailand in 2015. We appreciate the work of all members of this working group.
In October Mariko visited Thailand to discuss with key personnel the possibility of belatedly joining with their organising group to effect a modified co-hosting arrangement for the regional event in Thailand in 2015. We are extremely grateful for all the work the APASWE organising committee have undertaken thus far and for their generosity in allowing us to join them at this late stage. We look forward to meeting together at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok on 21 – 24 October 2015 to celebrate the profession and continue our work in our region. The official joint conference announcement will be on the IFSW website later this month. Please mark these dates in your calendar and begin your plans to join us there.
Also in October, Mariko attended the 31st Biennial Convention of the Philippines Association of Social Workers as a keynote speaker. More than 600 attendees actively participated in the programme which focussed on disaster, crisis and the role of social workers as allies and partners in this work.
In November we were delighted to be able to participate in the Indonesian chapter of the Work Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation in Jakarta with Rose presenting as a keynote speaker. It was a wonderful opportunity to profile the role of social work in psychosocial recovery work and share some of our roles within mental health services. Local social workers superbly hosted Rose and she was able to meet a number of social work students as well as experienced members of our profession. A full report will be submitted in the next regional newsletter. A huge thanks to our members in Indonesia and best wishes for the ongoing development of their work in mental health services.
In November the Palestinian Association hosted a local conference. Unfortunately neither Mariko nor Rose were able to attend but Rory our IFSW Secretary General attended and we look forward to hearing more of this important event in the new year.
Also in November the Aotearoa Association of Social Workers concluded its year of celebrations for its 50th anniversary with a national event. Amongst the many other topics, involvement in the international federation was acknowledged as being important since our beginnings with our inaugural president noting these links as one of the original goals.
At the same time, the Japanese Association of Psychiatric Social Workers also celebrated its 50th jubilee. The Japanese Social Workers Association, through the Coordinating Body for IFSW Membership, joined the celebrations.
At the end of the year, Mariko and Rose teleconferenced with IFSW President Ruth Stark and Secretary General, Rory Truell. A draft work plan is being developed and once finalised we will share this with members and welcome assistance from members as we progress the work.
Planning for the next global conference with the theme of “Promoting the Dignity and Worth of People” in Korea in 2016 continues with speakers being finalised and arrangements confirmed. The next edition of the global agenda publication, also with the theme of Promoting the Dignity and Worth of People, will be launched at this event and members are urged to begin preparing articles for this publication.
Mariko Kimura, IFAP Regional President
Rose Henderson, IFAP Regional Member at Large