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International Social Development

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Brett Burt

SWK-414 International Social Development
Session 3 2010.
APA

Date submitted: 17th December 2010. via EASTS

I, Brett Burt, have read and understood the Charles Sturt University Plagiarism Policy. I declare that this assignment is my own original work and represents my intellectual property. It does not contain the work of others without appropriate reference being made.

Essay Question

‘Critically discuss the meaning of international social work and social development and demonstrate your understanding of the integrated perspectives approach by analysing and applying to an issue such as local level development, poverty, post conflict reconstructions, forced displacement.’

International social work seems to mean different things to different people in different communities, across the globe. Even the term ‘social work’ is often hard to pin down in the Western tradition. The first ‘constant’ seems to be the history of the development of social work in Britain after the Industrial Revolution and then across the western world predominantly in the United States. Second, social work as a profession arose as the result of the issues thrown up by the Industrial Revolution, such as mass movements away from rural based living, agricultural jobs reduced, with massive technological innovations commencing as far back as the development of the steam engine. Third, social work as a profession is united by its values which are social justice and a need to attend to social welfare (in the context of social wellbeing) in society. Jane Addams and her associates believed that no less than world peace and disarmament were suitable goals for social work. (Hokenstad and Midgely, 1998)

So what is ‘international’ social work? The Council on Social Work Education in the United States of America in 1956 examined the question and gave the following answer:

“It was the consensus of our sub committee that the term international social work should properly be confined to programs of social work of international scope such as those carried on by intergovernmental agencies, chiefly those of the UN; governmental; no government agencies with international programs.” (Extracted SWK 414 Readings 1 p. 6, 2010)

The definition is a fairly narrow one, excluding social workers working in another country in domestic areas. It seems that the work must be ‘across’ borders to be able to be termed ‘international’ social work. Another close definition was;

‘those social work activities and concerns that transcend national and cultural boundaries’. (Op cited).

To my mind this is a very linear, one directional definition that ignores the broad relational nature of social work. I prefer the operationally based definition by Warren used in 1937 /39 appearing in the Social Work Yearbook where is defines the subject international social work, as an integration of four activities which were firstly;

international social casework, International assistance for war sufferers or disaster, international conferences for exchange of ideas and international co-operation by governments and bodies through international organisations such as the former League of Nations. (SWK414 Readings p6, 2010).

Healey prefers this type of broader definition and develops his own dimensions of international social work being international professional action and the capacity for international action by workers. International action has four functional dimensions:

internationally related domestic practice and advocacy, professional exchange, international practice and international policy development and advocacy. (Extracted from Readings SWK414 p25)

Healey gives examples covering each of the four (4) dimensions. First, involves example of West Indies teenagers moving to Canada and the ‘placement ‘ failing due to conflict with mother of young persons. The international flavour of the case study and of the follow up work is identified in the teens’ cultural conflicts such as people from West Indies tend to be suspicious of therapeutic (one on one) counselling which then necessitated group work approaches. (Extracted SWK414 Readings)

Even the plain definition of domestic social work from my perspective as a worker in Australia seems hard to ‘pin’ down and varies from occupation to occupation, where a sort of spectrum or matrix develops i.e social work in a hospital to statutory child protection work as well as country to country compare US and China. (Extract SWK414). Some commonality must exist in terms of what social workers do or it would be very hard to call social work a profession. Those common frames of reference are creating social change, create connections between people and communities, support human welfare and human rights.

The biggest influence internationally obviously has been the Western tradition where modern social work first arose as mentioned earlier in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. As western culture (that is English speaking capitalism) spread via colonial invasion around the globe so did social work, as a profession involved helping those in need as in charity and the administration of charity. This spread was mainly by the churches. A really good example from my perspective, as an Aboriginal person, was the spread of religious organisations into Australia post invasion. Here I think in its most basic form you can see proto type of international social work developing. Integrated perspectives approach can be applied here to analysing the invasion, colonisation, attempted genocide and attempted assimilation of the indigenous people in New South Wales between 1788 and now.

The term social development I think, is viewed as just not the domain of social workers but a domain of work with many different classes of practitioners. The term can also be linked and contrasted to social welfare and social administration. It’s an approach wherein development of the community is undertaken for social wellbeing. Social wellbeing is the same as ‘social welfare’, where the term social welfare is neutral and is used as a term indicating how ‘well off ‘ people are; e.g economically, socially as measured by high or low unemployment index, high drug and alcohol abuse, high or low rates of criminal activities. It means that the society has a low level of social welfare if the rates of crime and unemployment are high. (SWK414 Readings 1 pp 13,14)

In fact one author, Titmuss, describes a society’s inability to maintain social well being or welfare as social illfare. (SWK414 Readings p15).

So social development is the way/s or approach/s to working ‘on’ the social welfare level of a society in an effort to improve it. By working on it I would mean increasing the level of social welfare for all members of the society. This is in keeping with the philosophy behind social work, which in my opinion is social justice or to put it more colloquially, ‘a fair go for all’. We see this value enshrined everywhere in Western societies starting with the American and French declarations about freedom and equality to the British common law rules of natural justice.

Internationally, many organisations form a network of groups which fall into a number of categories:

National governments International associations e.g European Union EU, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) United Nations International non government organisations e.g Red Cross, Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontieres. Global civil society e.g social and religious movements. (SWK414 Readings)

But social development differs from normal philanthropy and social work in several ways. Social development does not deal with individuals; it does not treat them with therapy or goods. Instead it focuses on the group or the community with its broader social processes and institutions. Social development does not just cater to the poor but seeks to develop the well being of the whole population. This is the approach needed in working with indigenous peoples for instance, in Australia and elsewhere where particularly colonial European powers intruded. Where there is a need to acknowledge the link between social problems with economic development or lack of it. (Extracted SWK414)

So international social development has an interdisciplinary focus which draws on various sciences. Social development is a process of planned social change designed to promote the well being of the populations as a whole in conjunction with a dynamic process of economic development. (Cox & Pawar, 2006)

Social work and development attempt to raise awareness about issues. Participate in capacity building at a personal, local, regional and national level for people and organisations. Develop resilience in these entities so they become self determining and able to survive culturally as well as economically. These strategies are the general heading used for the development of policy and programs.(Payne & Askeland, 2008 p106)

In Australia, there have been many attempts to redress the issues around Aboriginal conflict and dispossession. In fact, I see this issue of dispossession of country as an ongoing international social work challenge, that is, it has been and still is a challenge in many European or western societies where large indigenous populations were dispossessed illegally under international law and custom of the 18, 19 and 20th centuries, of country and culture, over the past two hundred years. Examples include USA, Brazil and in fact all South American countries, Canada and New Zealand.

In Australia, it was the nations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands peoples starting with the Eora people in Sydney. This invasion encompassed conflict, colonisation, displacement of peoples, creating a vulnerable population, dependency, post conflict, loss of sovereignty and more recently reconciliation.

The invasion and displacement of people has echoed down the centuries. The displacement of the Wiradjuri peoples for instance after 1820 in central and south western New South Wales and its attendant social problems are still seen in communities such as Cowra, Brewarrina, Walgett, Dubbo, Wagga, Narrandera, Hillston etc, where large numbers of Wiradjuri and other clans/tribes still are living. With many instances of communities in poverty with attendant substance abuse, domestic violence and high levels of crime. The governments of today recognise this and have attempted to close the gap for Aboriginal people in many ways. (Reynolds,

For most people in society, linear stages of growth and structural changes models have left them facing the same issues that the common person faced in the Industrial Revolution era, that is mass improvements in technology away from labour intensive subsistence agriculture to urbanised industrial labour. This has had the effect of creating ghettos in the industrialised cities on the mainstream, this has had a catastrophic affect on Aboriginal people, who were mainly rural workers in the years following dispossession.

I would like to analyse indigenous issues through the lens of the Integrated-perspectives Approach. Globally, indigenous people are found everywhere and many still maintain an autonomous identity or parcellised sovereignty within the various nations. Aboriginal people are Homo sapiens sapiens, contrary to what some early Darwinian theorists believed, and as such as part of the human race. However due to a number of geological factors they became a distinctly separate group of cultures with significant diversity. After 200 hundred years of attempted genocide and assimilation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have survived the conflict.

Due to the conflict that occurred with the expansion of the European Great Powers countries such as Australia entered into an extended period of low level conflict. In United Nations Human Conflict Report 2000 “Decolonization in Africa”:

Colonial states were typically imposed by force and deceit….In this process colonial authorities commonly resorted to violence along with authoritarian legalism to compel compliance. Todays States are continuing basically to be external structures artificially and risibly imposed from above

Many countries today have problems today with the issue of returning to a mono culture, such as where ethnic cleansing has occurred. In Australia we still have the Pauline Hansons insisting on equality which really means returning to the White Australia Policy and keeping indigenous people as a conquered people with no rights. Even though under British and International Law as it was in 1788 was illegal. Native peoples were to retain their sovereignty, lands and customs. This was not just a modern legal invention. Even the ancient Roman Empire for much of its rule, allowed indigenous peoples to keep their religions, customs, language and lands albeit with tribute to be paid.

The characteristics of the war in colonial Australia had many suspiciously similar aspects to modern war, such as a targeting of women and children, use of mercenaries (Aboriginal mounted police recruited from other areas), tendency to rape and plunder for personal gains, destruction of food, displacement of whole nations (Wiradjuri, Eora, later on Wangkumara from Tibooburra), use of the equivalent of modern day land mines i.e. poisoned waterholes and food sources.

Using the integrated perspectives approach looking at this situation, I can identify the practices such as rebuilding that should have occurred post conflict.

Social institutions; The social institutions of the Wiradjuri in central and southern New South Wales bordered by the Wambool (Macquarie River), Kalari (Lachlan), Murum bidya (Murumbidgee) and to some extent the Bogen (Bogan) Rivers, disappeared to a large extent. The last male initiation (purpura or burbang) was performed in the early 1900 at Brewarrina Mission (which is outside of Wiradjuri country). (Tindale 1938) Family links were lost with the displacement of Wiradjuri groups after the Wiradjuri Wars in the Riverina and earlier around Bathurst. Aboriginal society was fractured as people were displaced off their country and because of rules of kinship and land could not easily move onto neighbouring traditional lands.

Economy; From an ecological perspective, the traditional economy was destroyed as hard hoofed animals destroyed native grasses used to make native damper, injured the thin top soil (Elder, 2003) and the sheer numbers of white settlers killed out or severely reduced fauna numbers. Of course the economy of the traditional Wiradjuri would never recover. The remnants of the various groups from around the three major rivers were forced to adopt initially a wandering lifestyle, then settlement on various selections (name for land taken up by settlers – a colonial methods of selecting land and then squatting on it ) and begging for white mans food such as flour, sugar and tea. No effort was made to rebuild or re establish the Wiradjuri people into some type of economic structure. Recent attempts out returning an economic based to Wiradjuri people from the 1980’s via Native Title have not borne fruit in terms of addressing economic disadvantage.

Rebuilding of relationships between traditional peoples and the invaders did not happen. The wounds of war were not healed. Trauma and grief were never addressed. The only relief supplied to Wiradjuri people were various missions such as Wellington Mission. However these Missions were more bent on turning black people into white people by further destroying the culture: stopping religious practices, changing belief systems, changing lore to reflect Christian values. Morale, confidence and hope were not rebuilt. Most importantly children were damaged, their education was neglected, they were left behind and they became the parents of the next generation of indigenous people. This has lead to at least 150 years of intergenerational trauma and grief with the only way out for indigenous people was to assimilate into western ways which many did.

Looking at the above events through the ecological perspective, it now seems a great crime against humanity occurred with the dispossession of the Wiradjuri peoples. Modern literature now acknowledges an alternative response to the ecological crisis that could be characterised as the spiritual response. (Nasr, 1990 in p33 Readings SWK414 CSU).

The blight wrought upon th4e environment is in reality an externalisation of the inner state of the soul of that humanity whose actions are responsible for the ecological crisis.

The crisis stems from the attitude of dominations and plunder that is part of the Western world view. That is Man was given domination over Nature by God. With Wiradjuri culture Nature, the land and all life are seen as the Mother. The view of existence is one of relationship and not of merely a one directional linear model where no responsibility is taken, where the rule of nature is simply the survival of the strongest. Since colonisation occurred after the wars in New South Wales, Wiradjuri country has been changed, some for the good but a lot for the bad, with increasing salinity in the soil, massive problems with water in the Murray Darling Basin, destruction of biodiversity and various farming and domestic living practices that contribute to global warming – coal fire stations, meat production, burning, damming of rivers. (Murray Darling Basin Report 2010).

Social development post conflict: Social development did occur for Wiradjuri people post the conflict of the 1800 and 1900’s. No treaty or reconciliation occurred until some efforts were made regarding citizenship (granted in 1967) and native title after the Mabo decisions (Mabo v Commonwealth 1992). Their was no process of planned social change following the Wiradjuri Wars. The system that was implemented took the form of isolation, creating an Aboriginal Protection Board under various guises and attempting to isolate and assimilate at the same time, Wiradjuri and other tribes from each other and the white community.

Distribution of goods and access to services, that is, the raising of levels of living was dependent on abandonment of a person’s culture, family and friends and adopting the dominant culture or remaining in semi imprisonment on reserves governed by a white manager. So economic and social choices were very limited. Wiradjuri were considered aliens in their own lands. This was against, as I stated, international law (natural justice and the Enlightenment philosophy) and British Imperial law of the time, as well as against the inherited Roman traditions that Catholic and Protestant faiths were built on.

The plight of the Wiradjuri people and other traditional peoples continues on in Australia. The Wiradjuri have never ceded sovereignty of their lands. They are still caught in post conflict inertia, where the colonial power hoped that assimilation would occur and the Wiradjuri would fade. However analysing the issue briefly through the integrated perspectives approach indicated that that approach can still be used to pan intervention to address the issues that plague Aboriginal people as well as indigenous people worldwide. I have identified as marginalised, poverty stricken populations who are vulnerable to events beyond their control, facing high level so unemployment, early death, oppressed to the point of apathy. Using the integrative perspectives approach we could develop strategies that were consultative, that is people centred. Flowing from a human rights perspective and social development principles, unlike the current intervention in the Northern Territory.

It has been nearly hundred and eighty years since Windradyne, the Wiradjuri headman in the area around modern day Bathurst, first came in contact with the British when they entered Wiradjuri land. With disease as well as the access to firearms and a fair amount of greed, the Wiradjuri were soon decimated socially and on every other indicator of social welfare. The efforts of early era social workers such as the churches probably saved them from annihilation. (Elder, 2003) However the Wiradjuri have remained. Against all the poverty, disease, substance abuse, family dysfunction and every other possible social evil, Wiradjuri people still feel, “Dandarandhi babandhi ngyahi ngaaringirri yiragagu”.

“From the coldest winter we all look to the spring’. (Grave epitaph)

Word count 2,952
3,342 with Reference and Headings

REFERENCES

MANOHAR, Pawar. SWK414 International Social Development Study Guide and Readings 2010, Faculty of Arts, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

COX, David and MANOHAR, Pawar. 2006. ‘International Social Work; Issues, Strategies and Programs’. Sage, USA.

Hokenstad, M.C and Midgley, James. Edited essays ‘Issues in International Social Work; Global Challenges for a New Century’. 1997. NASW Press, Washington USA

PAYNE, Malcolm and ASKELAND, Gurid Aga. 2008. ‘Globalization and International Social Work’. Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Aldershot UK.

REYNOLDS Henry, 1981. ‘The Other Side of the Frontier’. UNSW Press. Sydney.

ELDER Bruce, 2003 ‘Blood on the Wattle.’ 3rd edition. 2003. New Holland Publishers, Sydney.

TINDALE, Norman. Extracted from Tindale’s website with genealogical charts based on interviews at Brewarrina missions in 1938.

Murray Darling Basin Report 2010.

Wiradjuri epitaph on grave in Nyngan Cemetery
Grave of Annie Goanna Potter died 1971 of Wiradjuri Tribe No 7 west Bogan River country.

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