Statement endorsed at the IFSW European Members Meeting, Vienna, 8th September 2019
The IFSW European members today committed to campaigning on safety issues for social workers and the strengthening of systems to protect service-users and professionals.
Recently in Croatia, a social worker and lawyer were killed in the social service where they worked. Under the law in Croatia social workers are forced into the role of ‘guardian’ for people where the court has determined limited legal capacity. The social workers of Croatia have historically advocated against the compulsory guardian role demanded under the law and campaigned for better intersectoral cooperation between the social services, health, education, judiciary systems, police and social service users.
A representative from the executive board of the Croatian Association of Social Workers commented: “The failures of the Croatian system that been highlighted by the social work profession has tragically resulted in the deaths of two colleagues. In complex cases, it is really important that social workers are identified in policy and law as equal professionals alongside other involved professionals as often the warnings and insights of social workers are neglected”.
The IFSW members agree to join forces in campaigning for:
- Social workers to be more involved in the development and monitoring, evaluation and changes of social policy to ensure systems include all partners.
- Policies and laws have clear pathways for service-users to co-work safely with professionals
- That welfare focused policy and laws should be expanded to ensure good working condition and safety protection measures.
- That realistic and manageable caseloads are supported by national policies.
- For media regulations and guidelines to be established that prevent misplaced blame of social workers when there is a significant lack of funding and support systems to ensure good practice and care.
IFSW Secretary-General, Rory Truell commented: ‘The actions taken by the IFSW European region are of critical importance to the profession in every region. A social worker was also killed on duty last week in the United States and Social Care Practitioner in England was killed last month. We must end violence against people in helping professions. We need to, therefore, support the wellbeing of people who use social services by strengthening the systems that provide vital services.’