Development of Social Work in Australia

free essayThe nature of social work in Australia has been a topic of discussion due to the numerous changes that have taken place over the years. Thus, the historical background of this sphere in the country has contributed significantly to its growth over the years. Australian Association of Social workers (AASW) has been in the front row in assisting and improving the well-being of individuals in need hence eradicating injustices and discrimination in the society (AASW, 2015). In general, social work industry is a field committed to social justice and respect for humanity in the society.

The historical background of social work in Australia has evolved over time starting from the colonial period. However, even with these developments, Australia bears the hallmarks of policy development in the USA and the UK with whom it mostly identifies. Active social work started as early as from the Second World War. Nonetheless, the growth of social work in Australia is divided into pre-war, war, and post-war periods (Lawrence, 2015). In fact, during the pre-war, the Australian state was characterized by strong affiliations between industrial affairs and social warfare policy. By the end of the 1920s, the social field was becoming more organized. As early as in 1929 the United States and Britain were the only social provision countries. In the same year, the first training course for hospital almoners was established in South Wales. Actually, Miss Agnes McIntyre of London became the first woman to take charge in almoner hospital. During her arrival to England, Miss Agnes talked with Miss Jocelyn for the inaugural position of Director of Training of the Board of Social reviews prompting foundation of Melbourne University Department of social work. Within no time, the number of the institutions that offered social work training increased significantly.

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Between 1960 and 1970, Carnegie Foundation of United States generously supported the establishment of social work at the University of Sydney. Furthermore, the war strengthened the training movements through government recognition leading to increased demand for social worker expertise. The universities of Ireland and Britain coordinated them by developing social studies departments to facilitate increased number of students at that time. In other instances, a good number of educators from Australia and North America were getting a chance to receive leading positions in Australia’s social work institutions hence making it a new fashion. In particular, people like Miss Hyslop established a solid American culture in Australia. For example, she understood how to change the name of the qualification from Diploma of Social Science to Diploma of Social Service.

Furthermore, the expansion of social work during this period was facilitated by the rise of social problems like unemployment, drugs, and women abuse. However, according to Lawrence, (2015) in the late 1990s to 2001 among the social fields, medical social work developed extremely fast (p. 5). In addition, the rapid establishment of social work in Australia was attributed to both the British’s and American’s common attitudes and their broad heritage and language. For example, in the UK, Octavia Hill developed a scheme of training housing managers and later nursing and teaching professions. Actually, both the UK and the USA greatly contributed to the growth of Australian social work by establishing more social institutions that offered training to university students.

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The development of social work in Australia relied mostly on the training movement features. For instance, through the Institute of Hospital Almoners, the profession found a way of spreading all over Australia. In addition, the emphasis of the US on the ‘profession’ had a stronger impact, too, since it promoted the various methods of achieving social objectives in the Australian societies. Though, according to Janet and Napier (2006), “social work practice in Australia has been facilitated by key factors like the diversity of social, political, and economic contexts in the federal systems of the government”. For example, the States regulated law and order, especially in child welfare and hospital services provision. Also, formal social work in Australia emulated its development in the UK and the US putting greater emphasis on casework with the inclusion of communities’ pioneered work. Actually, both countries served perfectly the need for increased urgency of social work practitioners during the Great Depression by sharing European experiences and obtained qualifications from the two states.

Historical Events in Both the UK and the US That Shaped and Defined Social Work in Australia

A number of historical events have occurred both in the UK and the USA that have led to the shaping of social work in Australia. Chenoweth (2008) argues that post-war initiatives formed the basis of a welfare state based on Keynesian economics (p.53). When Britain declared war to Germany in 1939, Australian naval forces joined the British in the Mediterranean whereby they were trained for service in Europe and the Middle East. Therefore, the war greatly increased national confidence to handle-post war immigration program within a full employment policy. For that reason, after the Civil War, the US established social welfare initiatives like Sanitary Commission and the Red Cross that supported the recently freed slaves (Rengasamy, 2009). Among other reasons, these agencies were to address the increasing number of social issues that later became the foundation of social work in Australia in the late 1990s. The settlements like Chicago Commons developed educational programs that offered a full curriculum in Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy to some Australian students at that time in America. Moreover, in the US there were American Revolutions that comprised formal systems of poor relief child warfare and even mental services established in North America. Starting from the early beginning of Federation in 1901, the Australian welfare was constructed around the family, whereby a man was a sole provider for his family. Australia too struggled to protect family unit which later geared to the protection of earners. Overall, over the years Australia has significantly developed its social work profession on the basis of historical events that occurred in both Britain and the US. Therefore, post-war period led to increased need for social workers to protect poverty-stricken people and single mothers with limited resources to raise their children. Another historical event that led to the shaping of Australia’s social work was the emergence of job networking in the United States and Social movements copied from both America and UK immigration programs.

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Similarities and Differences

There are a good number of similarities and differences in terms of the historic development of social work in both the US and the UK. To start with similarities, in both countries there was World War II during social work development. For instance, the social welfare in America grew during World War II whereby the state vowed to protect child welfare and women among other social alarming issues. In the real sense, during that time there was an increased demand for social welfare services in both nations. Thus, the alarming rate of social workers during this time was due to new needs arising from the war, new public attitudes toward old needs which had been unmet for a long time, and the release of resources previously absorbed in the fight against destruction.

In both nations, social injustices triggered the growth of their social work development. Back in time, poverty, child welfare, and other social injustices in the two societies were alarming (Showers and Dulmus, 2008, p. 79). For example, America is well recognized for the good social work performance starting from the early 1920s. During this age, social workers tackled the social injustices from all angles regardless of gender, faith, race, or sexual orientation. In fact, in the 19th century, the poor in the two societies were a national threat. Thus, some laws like the Poor Law were formed to work in conjunction with other organized systems to provide care for the poor. Overall, according to Social Work Degree Guide (2017), “rescue agencies were formed to offer support to solve the problems of poverty, diseases, prostitution, mental illness, and other afflictions”. Lastly, historically, in both nations women prevailed in the professions of social work as compared to men.

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On the other hand, even though the two States shared almost similar interests, there were some differences in their historical formation. Pierson (2012) argues that the US had many movements as compared to the UK during social work development. The Americans developed many movements like the Child Welfare of 1853 that rescued children from streets and other places of inadequate homes (Acton, 2013). Thus, it is evident that in the US movements worked much better than in the UK that mostly relied on charity organizations and churches. In addition, the effects of World War II were less sharply felt in the US as compared to the UK. Nonetheless, the US used aftermath experiences of the war better to develop their social case workers by showing their necessity of their skills through activities like Red Cross home services. Therefore, unlike the British, Americans utilized the experiences of the post-wars effectively to develop their social work profession.

In conclusion, the UK and the US have played a key role in Australia’s social work development over the years starting from the colonial period. Some of the key historical factors that have led to the growth of social work in Australia are post-war experiences and different welfare movements. In England and the USA, social work and social welfare follow their history to the Judeo-Christian estimations of western culture encapsulated in the work of the charity organizations and settlement movements that occurred before government association and administration arrangement. The increasing number of social workers was a result of the alarming rate of social concerns in Australia just like it was in the UK and the US. Charity organizations in both states laid the foundation of the social profession which later formed social education institutions offering social studies up to date.