The New Zealand Social Worker Social Work Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Püao-te-Ata-tü (daybreak) was a report requested by the Minister of Social Welfare in 1986, that investigated “the ways in which they could better support MÄori clients and address the social needs of the MÄori people” (Hollis, 2005). The report stated that MÄori were not being consulted on any decisions regarding education, social welfare and justice and that decisions “were being made for, rather than by, MÄori people” (Ministerial Advisory Committee, 1988, p. 18). It was the beginning of a period of change for the government of New Zealand, which “challenged social workers and Aotearoa New Zealand institutions to examine themselves for institutional, cultural and personal racism” (Nash, Munford, & O’Donoghue, 2005, p. 20).
Historically Püao-te-Ata-tü was “the MÄori perspective for the Department of Social Welfare and the Children and Young Persons Act 1974” (Keddell, 2007). The report states “throughout colonial history, inappropriate structures and Pakeha involvement in issues critical for MÄori have worked to break down traditional MÄori society by weakening its base-the whÄnau, the hapÅ«, the iwi” (Ministerial Advisory Committee, 1988, p. 18). It was initiated due to the high amount of MÄori children in the care of the state, and because it was felt at the time, that the social welfare system was not inclusive of whÄnau (Cram, n.d.). Cram states “at the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in MÄori society and its relationship with whÄnau” (Families Commission, 2012). The Püao-te-Ata-tü report was delivered to the Minister in 1988, made thirteen recommendations which focused “upon the need for the department to function in a bicultural manner and to share responsibility and authority for decisions with appropriate MÄori people” (Waitangi Tribunal , 2012, p. 107). New Zealand had an obligation to the Te Tiriti O Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi), which “protects the rights of MÄori (tangata whenua) and provides validation for tauiwi (all those who have settled in this land after the arrival of MÄori) to live in this land” (Nash et al., 2005. p. 160-161). With focus on bicultural practice, the government was duty-bound to make changes so that MÄori could be involved in decisions regarding MÄori, resulting in MÄori being involved in “planning and service delivery at the tribal and community level” (Ministerial Advisory Committee, 1988, p. 18). A review of the Children, Young Persons Act 1974 was necessary.
The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 relate “to children and young persons who are in need of care or protection or who offend against the law” (Harris & Levine, 1994, p. 75). It was established to regulate how the government responded toward children that had been abused or neglected or who were at risk of being youth offenders (Ministry of Social Development, n.d.). The Act “introduced principles that changed the way decisions were made about children and young people, enabling family to become partners in the decision-making process to resolve family issues” (Ministry of Social Development, n.d.). New Zealand’s obligation to the Te Tiriti O Waitangi has led to more culturally aware policies and practices.
Historically the Children and Young Persons Act 1974 was thought to reinforce institutional racism, and didn’t take into account the culture of the differing minorities throughout New Zealand (Keddell, 2007). MÄori felt their cultural values, that encompass the collective not the individual, were not being considered leading to unhappiness with the governmental institutions. (Keddell, 2007). The Püao-te-Ata-tü report had caused a “paradigm shift in social work thinking” (Nash et al., 2005. p. 20) and the New Zealand government had to make changes to recognise this. A change to policies caused a change in practice, therefore, the Code of Ethics became inclusive of MÄori culture and the Bicultural Code of Ethics was established.
The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics was “founded on the guidelines enumerated by the International Federation of Social Workers” (ANZASW, 2008). Its purpose is to: provide a definition of ethical social work, offer guidance, inspire and promote professionalism, guide social work students, underpin everyday practice and development and incorporate bicultural practice (ANZASW, 2008).
Historically the ANZASW Code of Ethics was first developed in 1964, where the ANZASW was called NZASW and Code of Ethics was the ‘Interim Code of Ethics’ (ANZASW, 2008). In 1976 after a conference in Puerto Rico it was decided to adopt the International Federation of Social Workers code, this transcended the ‘Interim Code of Ethics’ (ANZASW, 2008). In 1993 a new code of ethics was developed, this was the first ‘ANZASW Code of Ethics and Bicultural Code of Practice’ which recognises Te Tiriti O Waitangi “to foster equitable collaboration between the diverse realities of its membership who are Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi” (Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, n.d.).
The Püao-te-Ata-tü report was the foundation for bicultural practice in social work practice with MÄori and wider communities. Ruwhui (as cited in Nash et al., 2005) maintains biculturalism as being “the relationship between cultures co-existing alongside one another” (p.97). The advent of biculturalism caused government agencies and social workers to reflect on the practices they employed and the ones they reproduced from overseas to see if they demonstrated the same cultural principles that New Zealand now practiced (Nash et al., 2005).
Social workers are now guided by new principles that recognise family as being an integral part of MÄori culture, the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 states “the principle that the primary role in caring for and protecting a child or young person lies with the child’s or young person’s family, whÄnau, hapÅ«, iwi, and family group” (New Zealand Legislation, n.d.). The Act has introduced family group conferences where family, extended family and community representatives meet together and discuss the consequences for care and protection cases or when the child has been involved in illegal behaviour so that the court is not necessarily involved (Levine, 2000). This has proved worthwhile and Maxwell and Morris (2006) state “both the philosophy underpinning this system and the use of family group conferences exemplify a restorative justice approach that has now been adopted in many other countries” (p. 239).
The ANZASW Code of Ethics and Bicultural Code of Ethics has impacted the development of social work practice in MÄori and wider social work communities by incorporating the Te Tiriti O Waitangi and its commitment to creating a more anti-racist practice (ANZASW, 2008). Social workers now are responsible for the promotion of change in mono-cultural agencies and organisations therefore assisting in the “protection of the integrity of Tangata Whenua” (ANZASW, 2008, p. 7). Webster and Bosmann-Watene (as cited in Nash, et al., 2005) state “the challenge for practitioners is to provide appropriate interventions that meet the cultural and clinical needs of MÄori” (p. 20). The ANZASW uses bicultural practice “to foster equitable collaboration between the diverse realities of its membership who are Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi” (Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, n.d.).
According to Barker (as cited in Sheafor and Horejsi, 2008) social justice is “an ideal condition in which all members of a society has the same basic rights, protection, opportunities and social benefits” (p.22). In order for the fair and equal treatment of MÄori in New Zealand the Püao-te-Ata-tü report recommended that the Department of Social Welfare improve its training methods of practitioners in the social work field (Ministerial Advisory Committee, 1988). The Department of Social Welfare needed to “identify suitable people to institute training programmes to provide a MÄori perspective for training courses more directly related to the needs of the MÄori people impacted social workers commitment to social justice” (Ministerial Advisory Committee, 1988).
The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 impact social workers commitment to social justice, in how they advocate for children and their families. As a social worker one needs to be able to challenge governmental policies and structures that are ineffective. The social worker must be aware of not only “the individual experience to the broader structural issues” but how the individual and the social structures relate to one another (O’Brien, 2011, p. 71). The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 could be considered an example of social justice as it publicised the racism that was thought to be in government institutions and practice, which made anti-racism towards the minority cultures part of the objective.
The ANZASW Code of Ethics has impacted social workers commitment to social justice in that they now “advocate social justice and principles of inclusion and choice for all members of society” (ANZASW, 2008, p. 8), particularly minority races and the disadvantaged. Social workers must recognise and value clients, integrating anti-discriminatory practice, the practice in which a social work practitioner strives to “reduce, undermine or eliminate discrimination and oppression” (Thompson, 2006).
In conclusion key principles like the Püao-te-Ata-tü report, the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989, and the ANZASW Code of Ethics have introduced biculturalism by honouring the Treaty of Waitangi. The Püao-te-Ata-tü report has brought about the inclusiveness of MÄori with regard to decision making in policies that involve them. Similarly, The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 have included whÄnau, hapÅ« and iwi in decision making while the ANZASW Code of Ethics focuses on anti-discriminatory practice to provide fair bicultural service to clients of all cultures. This has impacted social work in New Zealand by creating a more accepting culturally aware practice. Social workers now consider MÄori as a collective rather than as individuals and through training and commitment can provide a more encompassing and holistic service.
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