The Relationship Between the Social Work Profession and Indigenous People

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Samuel Brown – 3100913
Indigenous Studies – Assessment 3
Topic 4: The relationship between the social work profession and Indigenous people has been a problematic one. Discuss with reference to Stolen Generations.
Social work is a complex and broad field and the relationship between social workers and Indigenous Australians can be equally intricate and difficult to navigate. The theme of this paper will be; ‘understanding the relationship between the social work profession and Indigenous Australians’. A priority will be placed on analysing the historical relationship in reference to social work practice and related Government policy. Firstly, the history of social work and Indigenous policy will be discussed in relation to present work
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64, Commonwealth of Australia 2011). Policy then moved towards more assimilationist strategies in which attempts were made to convert Aboriginal Australians into ‘responsible citizens’ (Gilbert 2005, Haebich 2000). The protectionist and assimilationist policies share the core values that Aboriginal culture is inferior and on its way to an ‘evolutionary end’ (Gilbert 2005, p. 64).
The predominately Anglo-Saxon values present in the welfare system have resulted in a lack of understanding of Indigenous disadvantage as well as cultural values and traditions (Chenoweth & McAuliffe 2008). Chenoweth and McAuliffe (2008, p. 28) state that Indigenous populations have handed down by word of mouth, rather than writing down, their own ways of addressing these notions of “helping”, and this has resulted in a lack of understanding or an reluctance by human services organisations to attempt to understand them.
The historical relationship between indigenous Australians and social workers has a major effect on social work practice. History has the ability to feed life into contemporary social work through reflection on the past, through knowledge of where the profession came from, and through considering past mistakes (Chenoweth & McAuliffe 2008). An example of the importance of studying social work history can be shown through the
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