Rory Truell, Secretary General of the International Federation of Social Workers, writing on World Social Work Day 2013 in The Guardian newspaper, argues that ‘people thrive when they live in secure communities and environments; societies where a person’s dignity is honoured and they are able to contribute to their own and others’ wellbeing. Our experience also tells us that unreliable, unequal, fluctuating societies and weak communities undermine health and wellbeing and erode potential positive futures’.
Picking up the WSWD 2013 theme of ‘promoting social and economic equality’, he examines the impact of austerity in Europe and the damage this is doing to the fabric of communities and to social services and continues ‘As social workers, we are not involved in global, macro-economic decisions. However we do bear witness to the social realities. We observe that resourced and confident communities are the cornerstone of stable and thriving economies.’
‘As social workers we have a responsibility to draw attention to the realities of hardship and poverty, which are so often hidden, and to its causes. Others, including NGOs, churches and community groups, have recently highlighted the political stereotyping of unemployed and disadvantaged people which is happening all over Europe. This blames individuals for allowing themselves to fall into trouble, because they are inadequate or dishonest.
‘Social workers know the truth is different – and more complex. People do have individual responsibilities but need a fair and just environment to support them. We are therefore compelled to advocate for fair and socially just systems. We are not alone in highlighting the need for new international regulation. Indeed, many economists have made this case.
‘As social workers, we call upon the EU and individual countries to abandon austerity and free market approaches and urgently introduce new processes that bring the affected parties together to establish long-term and planned solutions, which enable people to live in coherent, stable and equitable environments, and sustainable economies’, Rory Truell concludes.
Read the full article in The Guardian here.
See the press statement on austerity issued after the IFSW meeting with EU Commissioner here.
Visit the IFSW WSWD 2013 website to see links to videos and articles. Search the IFSW website on ‘World Social Work Day’ for links to news items from around the world.