The biennial General Meeting of the International Federation of Social Workers ended in Hong Kong on Wednesday 18th June 2010 with the election of Gary Bailey (USA) as President and a strong plan of action for the coming 2 years. The next General Meeting will be in Stockholm in July 2012.
HONG KONG AGENDA
The General Meeting endorsed the Hong Kong Agenda, which had been developed during the world conference on social work and social development which had preceded the General Meeting. ‘The global consultation on the Hong Kong Agenda will support our continued lobbying world-wide to promote the achievements of the social work profession, which will continue with added energy’, said David N Jones, outgoing President of the International Federation of Social Workers and Gary Bailey (newly elected IFSW President), speaking jointly at the end of the conference. The IFSW campaign will be taken forward by Gary Bailey. David Jones will support the President in a new role as President’s Special Representative on the Agenda. Gary Bailey continued ‘this is a new and exciting way of working for IFSW. We will be involving not only our member organisations but also individual social workers and other partners concerned about social work and social development. We believe this will energise and encourage social workers and strengthen our profession’, Gary Bailey concluded.
NEW PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The General Meeting welcomed the unopposed election as IFSW President of Gary Bailey (United States). Gary had previously served as a member of the IFSW Executive and more recently as Chair of the Policy, Advocacy and Representation Commission. In that capacity, he had been the IFSW Chief Rapporteur for the Hong Kong Agenda process. Gary is currently Associate Professor of Social Work at Simmons College, Boston, USA and former President of the National Association of Social Workers (USA). (See separate press release about Gary Bailey’s background and former roles.)
Those elected to the Executive for the first time are:
- Darlene MacDonald (Canada) – President for North America
- Anthea Agius (Malta) – Member-at-Large for Europe
Those re-elected or moving to a different role are:
- Laura Accoto (Argentina) – President for Latin America and Caribbean – re-elected
- Mariko Kimura (Japan) – re-elected
- Daniel Asiedu (Ghana) – re-elected
- Jim Kelly (USA) – formerly Regional President for North America
In an active agenda concerned with the development of social policy and the role of social work, the following decisions were made
NEW INTERNATIONAL POLICIES
- Policy on Poverty – approved
- Policy on Women – approved
- Policy on Homelessness – referred for further development and consultation – an existing European policy will be reviewed and developed to take account of the situation of housing and homeless in different regions.
- Policy on Disabilities – referred for further development and consultation –aims to provide guidance to social workers in the context of the recently ratified Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (2006).
Policy on Employer Responsibilities – referred for further development and consultation – sets out what employers need to do to create the working environment within which it is possible to do effective and ethical social work practice and to protect and promote the interests of service users and carers.
REVISION OF IFSW CORE DOCUMENTS
During the preceding four years, IFSW with our partners in the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) have been consulting on two existing statements:
Statement of Ethical Principles for Social Work
Definition of Social Work
Statement of Ethical Principles – Following extensive debate, IFSW and IASSW both agreed that the Statement of Ethical Principles had stood the test of time and did not need immediate revision. The statement had been originally agreed with IASSW in 2004. The joint Standing Committee on Ethical Issues will continue to review specific practice issues which generate ethical dilemmas and to provide guidance when required.
Definition of Social Work – IFSW and IASSW both concluded that more time was needed for consultation on the definition of social work. Most speakers in the IFSW General Meeting stated that the definition had proved very useful in national discussions and should not be changed. Colleagues from Latin America in Particular highlighted the problems with the definition and stated that some changes were essential. It was agreed that the Brazilian association (CEFESS) will organise and host a consultative forum to involve around 40 invited speakers and guests, around half from Latin America and others from the rest of the world. This will provide an exciting opportunity for dialogue and debate and provide a substantial foundation for further work on the definition.
IFSW STRATEGY AND STRUCTURE
Following the retirement of the former IFSW Secretary General, the Executive had reviewed the structure and operations of IFSW and made proposals for the appointment process for the new Secretary General. These were endorsed by the meeting. There will be minimal change to the structure, with an elected President serving four terms (to receive financial support when resources allow) and an appointed and Secretary General (with a time-limited contract).
NEW SECRETARY GENERAL
The appointment process for the new chief executive was approved and will start immediately. It is planned that interviews will take place in October and the new post holder will take up position in the New Year. Arrangements are in hand to manage essential work over the coming months.
HUMAN RIGHTS WEBSITE
A new website supporting the integration of human rights into the practice of social work was launched at the conference – see separate press release.
REPORTS ON PAST ACTIVITY
The General Meeting received reports from the Global President, the 5 Regional Presidents and 9 chairs of committees and formal representatives to the United Nations and other bodies.
Membership – the General Meeting reviewed the arrangements for collection of fees for members and endorsed the decision of the Executive Committee to establish a new Task Force on Membership Development. This will look especially at ways to provide support for member organisations and those interested in joining the Federation from countries where social work organisations are new, still developing and having difficulty paying fees.
Finance – the General Meeting received the financial statements and audit reports. The Federation is in a sound financial situation but has always survived on limited resources, reflecting the under-resourced state of social work around the world. In common with all global and public sector bodies around the world, the General Meeting recognised that there will be extreme pressure on finances and resources in the coming months and years. The New Secretary General will be expected to develop a programme for generation of new income.
EILEEN MCGOWAN KELLY SCHOLARSHIP 2010
The winner of the 2010 scholarship for ‘younger social workers or social work students who have a demonstrated interest in international social work’ was Erin Wanini (Canada). 49 applications from all over the world were received.
JANE HOEY BURSARIES
The successful candidates for the award of bursaries from the Jane Hoey Fund to support participation in conferences by social workers from developing countries and eastern Europe were Claudia Kuzma Zabaleta (Uruguay) and Jackton Adera (Kenya).
The General Meeting endorsed a programme of action leading up to the forthcoming Stockholm conference in 2012:
- A second draft Agenda by October 2010 – will be developed and sent to all membership bodies for their first comments
- A third draft Agenda will be developed by February 2011, taking feedback into account
- World Social Work Day – 15 March 2011 – world-wide discussion of the agenda – all social work agencies, social development organisations, regional and national bodies will be encouraged to debate the agenda together with all classes in schools of social work
- World Social Work Day – 20 March 2012 – Agenda will be officially submitted to the United Nations Secretary General, and
- Every Region will submit the final Agenda to regional organisations (such as African Union, ASEAN, European Union, Mercosur), and
- National groupings will submit the final Agenda to their governments, taking national circumstances into account
- Global organisations will develop an efficient information and communication strategy to give increased publicity to the priorities for social work and social development
‘Social work provides a major contribution to solving human problems, supporting people facing immense difficulties and promoting peace and positive human relationships’, said Gary Bailey after his election as IFSW President, ‘yet this is largely unknown and uncelebrated. Social workers themselves often feel undervalued and unrecognised. This global Agenda process shows that the profession is determined to work with other interested parties to ensure that the contribution of social work is recognised and that social work plays a positive role in responding to the global economic and social crisis affecting people everywhere.’
FAREWELL TO RETIRING WORLD PRESIDENT
David N Jones (IFSW President 2006-2010)(United Kingdom) stood down at the end of the meeting after serving for 10 years on the global Executive. He was first elected as Member-at-Large in 2000 and elected as European President and Senior Vice President in 2002. He was re-elected as European President in 2004 before assuming the World Presidency in 2006.
In paying tribute to his leadership, IFSW Regional Presidents acknowledged his tireless work for the Federation, his commitment to inclusion and listening to the needs and interests of the five regions (including making visits and attending regional events). His role in developing the global consultation on the agenda and also in steering IFSW through the process for replacing the Secretary General was also acknowledged.
David Jones thanked many people for their support in his farewell address. He concluded by saying that ‘in the end, institutions such as IFSW are not so important. However the profession of social work is important and supporting social workers in their daily struggles and practice is a necessary task. I have met so many social workers around the world doing amazing things to help people, yet they are rarely recognised and thanked. It has been my privilege to represent social work around the world and to give recognition to the selfless work of social workers. I am proud to have been able to serve the profession in this way and I do not intend to walk away now. I am pleased to be able to continue working on the Hong Kong Agenda, under the leadership of Gary Bailey, and to chair the International Programme Committee for the 2012 conference in Stockholm, which will continue this important work’, David Jones concluded.
For further information contact the International Federation of Social Workers +41-22-548-3625
NOTE FOR EDITORS
IFSW is the global federation of national social work organisations in more than 80 countries representing over 500,000 social workers. IFSW has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is also accredited to the International Labour Organization, UNICEF and the Council of Europe. IFSW is a UN Habitat partner organisation.