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There are also a multitude of perspectives concerning which social work approach is best suited for a given cultural venue and most social workers are ill prepared by their educational background for cross-cultural practise (Williams et al. 1998). Despite these constraints, there is a growing consensus among social work practitioners of the need for a more enlightened approach to international social work that will help inform future practise as part of a set of larger best practices in this area.
Topic 10 Anti-racist social work
Since social workers are primarily involved in helping the disadvantaged and marginalized members of society, it is not surprising that a large percentage of these clients will also be the victims of racism, ranging from employment discrimination to more widespread institutionalised racism. These are particularly salient issues in Australia where racism has been a pervasive problems with respect to the treatment of indigenous peoples, a process that continues today. The same processes that are at work in shaping more informed international social work at also affecting anti-racist social work practise today. In this regard, Abrams and Moio report that, "Social work has its own traditions of critical scholarship that challenge some of the historical practices of the profession and the larger society that serve to perpetuate institutionalized oppression, including racism" (2009, p. 246). Moreover, social work studies for the past 3 decades have increasingly cited a need to reevaluate and address issues of oppression, including racism (Abrams & Moio 2009). Unfortunately, despite this continuing focus, more research and curricular offerings need to be developed to help prepare social workers for confronting racism in their practise. In this regard, Williams et al. emphasise that, "Progress on anti-racist social work has been limited, despite various initiatives to promote it" (1998, p. 45).
Topic 11 Thinking ecologically in social work
In their capacity as front-line advocates for the disadvantaged and marginalized members of society, social workers are in an excellent position to help raise public awareness concerning the adverse effects of environmental issues on this population. Based on the mandate to develop social work practises that promote environmentally responsible and sustainable lifestyles, social workers can play an important role at the community level in mobilizing and coordinating resources that can specifically help the most vulnerable populations. This approach can be used to help individual clients improve their ability to overcome environmental challenges or on a wider basis to mobilise collective action (Nash, Munford & O'Donoghue 2005). While the specific social work approach that is used will be context-specific, imaginative and motivated social workers can draw on a wide range of resources in the community to promote such initiatives depending on local needs, or they can contribute to -- or develop -- regional, national or even international programs that are focused on the mobilization and coordination of relevant and potentially valuable resources.
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