The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2020-09-02T10:35:16Z ACTU’s Union Innovation Hub is ASI’s Newest Authorised iMIS Solution Provider (AiSP) 2020-09-02T10:35:16Z actu-s-union-innovation-hub-is-asi-s-newest-authorised-imis-solution-provider-aisp Advanced Solutions International (ASI), a leading global provider of software and services for associations and non-profits, and the company behind the iMIS Cloud Engagement Management System (EMS)™, announced today that the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) newly launched Union Innovation Hub is ASI’s latest Authorised iMIS Solution Provider (AiSP).  Learn more at: www.advsol.com/prUnions.     The Union Innovation Hub is a standalone entity supported by the ACTU — the peak body for unions in Australia.  It will allow all ACTU-affiliated unions and their 1.6 million members to take advantage of the most modern member platform in the world: iMIS for Unions. To date, many unions have been forced to develop their own customised system or modify existing CRM systems to work for the union environment.  Customisations were expensive, time-consuming, and inefficient.  Complex integrations with events, marketing, campaigning, finance systems and other third-party solutions resulted in data siloes that made decision making difficult. iMIS for Unions Software — cloud based and powered by Microsoft Azure — is specifically designed for unions and fuses database management and web publishing into one single engagement management system (EMS)™.  It provides a single record of truth for all union members and constituents.  The “Hub” will help unions achieve growth, efficiency and impact by fast tracking progress and reducing the cost of digital and other innovation. It will also serve as a “user group” for unions already using or moving to iMIS and ensure that its learnings and best practices related to member engagement, onboarding, scoring, member journeys and more are shared across the movement.   The iMIS for Unions template has been built by union people for Unions. The staff, organisers portals and modern, engaging and dynamic website, will change the way unions can engage with their members. “We are excited to work with ASI and iMIS to bring the benefits of the Hub to union members across Australia,” said Chris Walton, Chief Executive Officer, of the Union Innovation Hub.  “Through the Hub, unions and their members will benefit from a system that’s specifically designed for unions, supported by central expertise and fast-tracked implementations based on proven, effective union templates.” “The Union Innovation Hub is a game-changer that will be a huge advantage to ACTU’s members,” added Paul Ramsbottom, Managing Director of ASI Asia-Pacific.  “Unions will no longer have to do everything on their own — they can collaborate with their peers, leverage the strength of their collective knowledge, and learn from the best practices of those who have gone before them.  ASI is proud to be an integral part of this initiative which brings best of breed software iMIS to the union community in Australia.” About ACTU and the Union Innovation Hub The Australian Council of Trade Unions is the peak body for Australian unions, made up of 38 affiliated unions that together represent about 1.6 million workers and their families.  Created in 1927, the ACTU coordinates union campaigns, represents workers at a range of government and non-government forums in Australia and overseas, and provides industrial, policy and other support to affiliates. Its head office is in Melbourne, with smaller offices in other state capitals.  Learn more at www.actu.org.au. The Union Innovation Hub is a stand-alone entity supported by the ACTU.  It helps unions retain members, achieve efficiency, improve organising, campaigning, and growth through the use of new technology and other innovation. The Hub wants to see growing, innovative unions positively impacting workers and society.  Learn more at www.uhub.org.au.   About ASI Advanced Solutions International (ASI) is a leading global provider of cloud-based software to associations and non-profits. We're the company behind iMIS Cloud, the Engagement Management System (EMS)™ that empowers you to engage your members anytime, anywhere, from any device. Since 1991 we've helped thousands of clients grow revenue, reduce expenses, and improve performance by providing best practices, pragmatic client advice, and proven solutions. Learn more at www.advsol.com. AASW launches Reconciliation Action Plan, in the lead up to International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020-08-07T02:03:50Z aasw-launches-reconciliation-action-plan-in-the-lead-up-to-international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples The Australian Association of Social Workers has today launched its third Reconciliation Action Plan July 2020-June 2022, which is an Innovate Plan. It also comes in the lead up to the UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples which is on Sunday, 9 August. 2020’s theme is COVID-19 and Indigenous People’s Resilience. AASW’s Reconciliation Action Plan describes the steps the Association can and will take to create opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Social Workers. AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative Board Director Linda Ford said, “Our new plan prioritises our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Social Workers and is about taking actions and defining how we work with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in our communities. “With this plan and alongside our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander colleagues, we will strive to be the best possible allies, by actively listening, by decolonising the way we work, by working in partnership and by making sure Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander colleagues and members of our communities shape our work.”Ms Ford said that building authentic relationships requires accepting the truth and understanding.She said, “We also know that to build authentic partnerships requires truth-telling and real understanding. Acknowledging the black history of our country, the historical role of Social Work and the current status of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in our community is essential in building partnerships that are grounded in truth.“I want to commend my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters and all they have done during COVID-19, their resilience and their determination to defend their communities and keep them safe. As this year’s theme for Reconciliation was, we are truly IN THIS TOGETHER.”You can review the AASW Reconciliation Action Plan July 2020-June 2022.You can review the AASW’s webpage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander actions to date, including our 2004 Acknowledgement Statement.ENDSAbout Reconciliation Actions PlansThere are four types of Reconciliation Action Plans endorsed by Reconciliation Australia: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate.To interview Linda Ford, please contact Ellie Cooper on 0413 532 954. Social workers urge government to lead economic recovery by investing in social housing 2020-08-04T05:23:42Z social-workers-urge-government-to-lead-economic-recovery-by-investing-in-social-housing During National Homelessness Week, 2-8 August this year, Australian social workers are calling for more investment in social housing to help end homelessness.Last month, the AASW submission to the Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia, called on the federal government to build or acquire additional social housing. AASW National President Christine Craik said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we can respond to homelessness quickly as a response when there is a threat to public health, and this quick response has protected some of the most vulnerable people in our society. “During this pandemic, the Victorian government has housed many who were homeless as part of a public health response until April next year. We welcome this move, and would argue that this initiative needs to happen on a more permanent basis, not just during a pandemic and needs to be implemented across the country. “We are supporting the Everybody’s Home campaign this week. Building social housing and repairing empty or substandard public housing needs to be prioritised in all neighbourhoods across Australia. This kind of initiative will result in local jobs, economic stimulus and work towards social cohesion across the country. This pandemic has wreaked havoc with our most vulnerable communities and if there is to be one positive thing to come out of this, let that legacy be that this was the time we took a different path around social housing and committed ourselves to eradicating homelessness forever. “For anyone, becoming homeless can feel like a personal failure and many of our cultural myths and negative stereotypes around homelessness and poverty feed into this. You can tell a lot about the health of a community by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. We need to challenge these myths and those negative stereotypes about homelessness and mobilise politically to end homelessness for good. We urge everyone to use this week to engage with the Everybody’s Home campaign.”Social workers know the effects of housing insecurity on vulnerable people. We know the ways in which this intersects and complicates other systemic disadvantage, including family violence, child protection and mental health. See the Scope of Social Work Practice areas in Homelessness, Family Violence, Child Protection and Mental Health. Scope of Social Work Practice – HomelessnessScope of Social Work Practice – Family ViolenceScope of Social Work Practice – Child ProtectionScope of Social Work Practice – Mental HealthENDS Social workers welcome an increase in Medicare mental health sessions in lockdown areas: a start but not the full answer 2020-08-04T00:53:11Z social-workers-welcome-an-increase-in-medicare-mental-health-sessions-in-lockdown-areas-a-start-but-not-the-full-answer The AASW welcomes the announcement by the Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday, 2 August on the increase in Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS)-funded mental health sessions in response to the escalating COVID-19 lockdowns.AASW National President Christine Craik said, “Our social workers who provide these sessions for those accessing mental health supports under Better Access tell us that the expansion of the number of allowable sessions is critical. The effect of the continuation of the lockdown in Victoria, and the growing uncertainty and anxiety that COVID-19 is causing, will see many people requiring additional and long-term support.The AASW has consistently, and persistently, called for an increase in allowable mental health sessions, over a long period of time and not just in response to the COVID-19 situation.Ms Craik said, “As stated in our numerous submissions to the MBS Review, and more recently the COVID-19 Inquiry, we believe MBS Better Access needs to be based on need and level of complexity. One size does not fit all. “Increasing the number of sessions will allow social work mental health professionals to better support individuals to work through the anxiety and complicated presentations we are seeing at this time. And while it is a welcome start, it will not alone be sufficient to address the growing mental health needs of the community and the growing demand on mental health professionals and services. We also need to see an extension of the use of telehealth and technology to support people where it is appropriate. For example, there is a huge need for work to address recovery for those who have experienced family violence. This has never been met in the current structure”We have welcomed the focus the government has placed on the mental health needs of the community through the pandemic, and now is the time to implement the recommendations of the MBS Review Taskforce on Better Access. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) have reported instances of their service users rationing their sessions despite significant concerns about the implications of this, combined with a worsening of symptoms as this pandemic continues. AASW social workers report observing an increase in service users presenting with suicidal thoughts and concerning behaviours. “It is clear that if we are to work to support the mental health of Australians through this pandemic and into recovery, there needs to be adequate service provision, and this is a long-term proposition, not a short-term situation.”The federal government’s MBS review has identified the need for an increased number of sessions and the AASW looks forwarding to continuing to work with government on this issue alongside addressing pay parity for all mental health professionals who are undertaking the same work. All social workers in Australia are supporting people through this current crisis. To locate an accredited mental health social worker, visit the AASW’s GP webpage .ENDSAbout Accredited Mental Health Social Workers Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) are recognised providers with Medicare Australia and other programs, delivering clinical social work services in mental health settings and utilising a range of evidence-based strategies. Members of the public can receive a referral from their GP under Better Access. For more information, see our website. World Refugee Week 2020: AASW continues calls for an end to mandatory detention 2020-06-17T23:21:10Z world-refugee-week-2020-aasw-continues-calls-for-an-end-to-mandatory-detention During World Refugee Week 2020, the AASW continues calls for the Federal Government to put an end to its punitive practice of mandatory detention. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “This year’s theme for World Refugee Week is Celebrating the Year of Welcome. The Australian government, however, consistently breaches the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees, our welcome is one to offshore detention, immigration detention centres and other forms of incarceration for those who have broken no laws. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that policy changes can be made quickly and to the benefit of vulnerable people. This has not occurred within the people seeking asylum and refugee population, who have been left exposed to the effects of coronavirus in detention. “As World Refugee Week started, there have been attempts by the government to move a group of people seeking asylum with pre-existing medical conditions from hotel accommodation in Queensland back to offshore detention. These people seeking asylum were transferred to Australia under the now repealed medevac legislation. They are at significant risk of severe complications or death if they are moved back to immigration detention while COVID-19 is still a threat.” The pandemic has a more severe impact on vulnerable groups and people in detention are no exception. Ms Craik continued, “There is nothing stopping the government from releasing this group, and all people seeking asylum, into the community where they can be free to continue their lives in safety and security. Keeping these people in detention is cruel and tortuous, and its only purpose is to send a terrible message to others who wish to seek asylum in Australia that ‘You are not welcome here’.” “Australia needs to be better than this and we can do better than this. “The practice of mandatory detention needs to end now. It causes immeasurable damage to those vulnerable people who have already worked so hard to flee harm. If we want to properly celebrate World Refugee Week, and the resilience and tenacity of people seeking asylum and refugees; this is the only way.” World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020: AASW calls for better resourcing of the aged care sector 2020-06-15T06:12:27Z world-elder-abuse-awareness-day-2020-aasw-calls-for-better-resourcing-of-the-aged-care-sector The AASW is calling on better resourcing and funding for the aged care sector on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many people who are experiencing elder abuse have become hidden from view. “Social workers know that it is difficult to encourage older people to disclose their experience of elder abuse at the best of times, and with many aged care services put on hold, workers are no longer going into the homes of older people and the abuse, neglect, control or violence they are experiencing by those who they depend upon, is harder to expose. “There are also thousands of older people across Australia waiting for an aged care package to become available. How many of those people are suffering in silence, being abused by carers with no one from the outside world knowing that assistance is needed now?” Ms Craik continued, “The aged care sector urgently needs extra funding to meet the increasing demand of home care packages, and to ensure staff are properly trained to pick up on the signs of elder abuse in community and aged care settings. We also need an increased community awareness of what elder abuse is and the many ways in which this can present. “Our submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission addressed these concerns and the AASW hopes to see systemic change throughout the aged care sector when the Commission releases its recommendations. “Elder abuse can take many forms and we all have a responsibility to know the signs and support older people to get help.” Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention) Bill 2020 continues human rights abuses, says AASW 2020-06-12T05:29:00Z migration-amendment-prohibiting-items-in-immigration-detention-bill-2020-continues-human-rights-abuses-says-aasw The AASW has called for an end to mandatory detention of asylum seekers in its submission to the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 [Provisions] inquiry.AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The amendments in this bill continue a tradition of human rights abuses targeting a vulnerable population, who have a right to seek asylum in Australia, and who by no fault of their own find themselves prevented from living their lives in security and safety in their country of origin.“This bill proposes increasing the search powers of authorised officers, allowing them to search asylum seekers and their belongings without a warrant, preventing access to SIM cards and other forms of communication with internet-connectivity, treating asylum seekers as if they have broken the law.“Expanding the powers of officers to conduct searches and being able to do so without a warrant or solid basis will continue the harmful nature of detention. Again, these measures will apply to people who have broken no laws and whose mental health is already at risk because of government policy.”Ms Craik said seeking asylum in Australia is not illegal, however our practice of placing asylum seekers into mandatory detention is punitive, cruel, and only designed to deter people from coming to Australia. She said, “These proposed amendments will exacerbate existing breaches of the human rights of people seeking asylum and perpetuate the harm being done to a group of vulnerable people in the name of border security.”“The Federal Government needs to end the policy of mandatory detention now. It is a measure that does not work, is costly, and causes immeasurable damage to those vulnerable people who have already worked so hard to flee harm.”Our submission will be made available on the Parliamentary website in due course. Governments need to act now to protect vulnerable children: AASW statement on Mason Jet Lee 2020-06-12T04:33:11Z governments-need-to-act-now-to-protect-vulnerable-children-aasw-statement-on-mason-jet-lee The brutal and painful death of 22-month-old Mason Jet Lee is a devastating tragedy and we call on all Australian governments to take immediate actions to assure no child has to ever endure what Mason went through in his short life, said the Australian Association of Social Workers National President Christine Craik, Queensland Branch President Ellen Beaumont and North Queensland Branch President Ross Murray in a joint statement released today. The Coroner’s report into Mason’s death details the horrific abuse and neglect he suffered, highlighting a systematic failure on every level. What was starkly evident in Mason Jet Lee’s situation, was the intergenerational trauma, years of abuse and neglect that was present within the family, coupled with the significant impact of domestic and family violence. This highlights the importance of addressing these issues early and we have a family and child protection system that intervenes when it is too late, disproportionately focusing on reactionary over preventative measures. For example, across Australia only 17 per cent of overall child protection funding is invested in early intervention support services with 83 per cent for child protection services. Child protection deals with some of the most complex problems that we face as a society. There is no single solution and we need a comprehensive approach to child and family support that looks at workforce, service systems, case loads, supervision and the structural factors that perpetuate poverty, marginalisation and disadvantage. In particular, we highlight the continued over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection systems. This goes beyond politics and we need a commitment to appropriately and sustainably resource the full continuum of child and family support, including prevention, early intervention, along with tertiary statutory services. An immediate measure that all governments can take is to improve the training and skills of the child protection workforce. For families that come into the child protection system, it can be due to a complex set of circumstances and it is vital that they receive supports from highly trained and skilled professionals. Unfortunately, as Mason’s and numerous Coroner’s reports from all across Australia continue to highlight, this is not the case. In Australia, social work is not a registered profession which can lead to inadequate forms of regulation. As social workers, we are on the front lines of child and family support and see the daily reality of an inequitably regulated sector and the devastating impacts this can have. The AASW has been calling for formal registration for several decades, this has been supported in recent years by two Coroner’s reports (including Chloe Valentine in South Australia). A Bill is now before the South Australian parliament for the statutory registration of social workers that would assure public safety, professional quality and accountability of the child protection workforce. The AASW is building on the progress in South Australia and meeting with child protection ministers and key stakeholders across Australia, advocating for the expansion of the South Australian model. Mason’s tragic and preventable death shows how far we still have to go and fundamentally that we all have a role to play in making sure that every child across Australia is safe and has a loving and supportive environment in which to meet their full potential. Australian social workers celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2020: In This Together 2020-05-26T23:09:28Z australian-social-workers-celebrate-national-reconciliation-week-2020-in-this-together The AASW celebrates National Reconciliation Week during this week 27 May – 3 June and what has turned out be a prophetic theme ‘In This Together’ and calls on all Australians to continue to work towards Reconciliation. It also marks 20 years since Australians marched en masse for Reconciliation in 2000, including the iconic march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board Director Linda Ford said, “This year, we have been living the theme for 2020 National Reconciliation Week ‘In This Together’ due to the COVID-19 response. This has been a time of incredible challenges and learnings, and we have seen, for the most part, the best of Australia. “The year of 2020 is likely to be remembered for the Coronavirus but throughout this, we should not lose sight of the long-term goals we have as an Australian nation. Goals which are about fairness, compassion, equality, justice and a happy life for all Australians. “As we celebrate National Reconciliation Week this year, we need to remember that it is not just about some of us, not just about Australians that live in cities or rural areas, the Australians that are rich and the ones that are struggling, the new Australians and the ones who can trace their history back to before the boats came. “The theme is about all Australians being ‘In This Together’. As we have demonstrated in our response to COVID-19, we are able to come together for a common purpose. Let us come together for Reconciliation!” AASW National President, Christine Craik said, “Reconciliation is about building meaningful relationships and working together for a more just Australia, and this begins with learning more about the resilience and achievements of Indigenous Australians. This resilience is a lesson for all of us in the current environment. “For social workers, National Reconciliation Week is also about learning from the past and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to address the structural disadvantage and discrimination they face in all facets of their lives, which is an ongoing consequence of colonisation. This includes advocating for Australian governments to listen to Indigenous voices and embrace a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice to parliament.” The AASW continues to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing into social work as a fundamental component of decolonising social work practice in this country. The Association is currently working on its Reconciliation Action Plan 2020-2022. Domestic Violence Inquiry report a missed opportunity: published without receiving a single submission 2020-05-21T00:03:06Z domestic-violence-inquiry-report-a-missed-opportunity-published-without-receiving-a-single-submission The AASW is today questioning the Senate Committee in charge of the Inquiry into Domestic Violence. This inquiry did not accept any submissions from the domestic and family violence sector and then released its report two days ago, three months ahead of its August due date. In doing so, this inquiry failed to make any substantial contribution to addressing the scourge of domestic and family violence facing Australian women and children. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “We are very disappointed that no domestic and family violence experts and/or victim/survivors were able to contribute to the Domestic Violence Senate Inquiry and that a report has been published three months ahead of schedule without any submissions being accepted. “We need real action on domestic and family violence to prevent the destruction of families and the deaths of women and children. It would have been wise for the Committee to hear from experts such as family violence social workers on this critical issue.” COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the very real dangers facing women and children across Australia, and the contributions of social workers who daily support women through these dangers had the potential to make real change to the lives of so many by adding their voices to this inquiry. To say that public hearings or public submissions would have been of limited benefit given the coronavirus pandemic is a clear message to all women living with increased risk during this pandemic, that their lives do not matter. Ms Craik said, “Too many women have been murdered this year already and for this Senate Committee to not have taken this process seriously is unacceptable and disrespectful to victim-survivors and their children. “We call on the federal government to take family violence seriously, fund the sector properly, and listen to experts in this field. No more women and children should be dying of this.” Last year, there was a review of the family law system which made more than 60 recommendations, some of which addressed the system's capacity to protect women and children. None of the recommendations were implemented. AASW submitted to this review. AASW’s credentialing program recognises specialised social work skills in family violence with its Accredited Family Violence Social Worker credential. National Families Week: AASW calls on increased focus on family violence during COVID-19, and for a separate Medicare item 2020-05-19T02:01:12Z national-families-week-aasw-calls-on-increased-focus-on-family-violence-during-covid-19-and-for-a-separate-medicare-item The AASW calls for an increased focus on family violence during this Family Violence Awareness Month, with the increased incidence of FV during COVID-19. In addition May 15-21 is National Families Week, and while this is a week to celebrate the protective and nurturing capacity of families, we also need to recognise the threats to families from gender-based violence and the added pressures caused by the current COVID-19 environment. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “We welcome the extra $48.1 million announced on Friday, 15 May to address mental health during the current pandemic. , however, it is quite clear that more resources also need to be allocated to family violence, which we know increases during times of crisis. “There has been a rise across the globe in the incidence of family violence during this pandemic, and Australia has not been so lucky with this deadly and destructive toll. In the past month, family violence related hospital visits, increases in calls to emergency departments and increases in victims needing surgery for family violence related injuries have spiked across the country. This increase has been also seen in calls to women’s legal services, calls to police, calls to men’s help lines, family law court cases and frontline family violence services. In the past 10 days, we know of four women who have been murdered in family violence incidents, however there is still no official government death count for family violence deaths across the country as is the case for deaths related to road accidents or COVID-19. “We know that family violence results from attitudes and behaviours based on a belief that the genders are not equal, and from this, a sense of entitlement and control to use power over partners and children. For those who perpetrate abuse we know that during times of crisis, that sense of needing to control becomes focussed on those closest to them, with devastating results. We are seeing risk escalate, and opportunities for victims to escape that risk, decrease. “We call on the federal government to do much more for victim/survivors of family violence. We desperately need services and funding for long term recovery. We need additional funding for therapeutic services that have the ability to work longer term through family court and recovery. These services need to be provided by social workers and counsellors who are family violence accredited. Victim survivors need specialist assistance and are often further abuse by the system if the worker supporting them does not understand the nuances of family violence and control. “We also call on the government to consider a Medicare item number for family violence counselling and therapeutic services distinct from a general practitioner mental health treatment plan. There will be an increase in family violence related cases going through the family court as a result of this pandemic and we need to ensure that perpetrators can no longer use the presence of mental health plans to continue to abuse their victims as is the current situation in the family court.” Christine will be hosting a discussion on COVID-19 and Family Violence for AASW members on Thursday, 28 May 2020 at 6.30pm AEST. AASW’s credentialing program recognises specialised social work skills in family violence with its Accredited Family Violence Social Worker credential. AASW calls for increase in Medicare mental health sessions, publishes guidance for GPs to refer to mental health social workers 2020-05-10T23:18:24Z aasw-calls-for-increase-in-medicare-mental-health-sessions-publishes-guidance-for-gps-to-refer-to-mental-health-social-workers The AASW renews its call for an increase in Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS)-funded mental health sessions in response to COVID 19, said National President Christine Craik. “COVID 19 is having significant impacts in the health and wellbeing of all Australians and we will continue to see the effects for months if not years to come. It is clear now that people need short and long-term mental health supports that are responsive to their needs.” The AASW has joined other key stakeholders in consistently calling for an increase in allowable mental health sessions. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) who provide mental health supports through Medicare know that the current limit of 10 sessions only are not enough for many people. The AASW is calling for an immediate extension of MBS funded sessions from the current 10 sessions allowable per year to at least 20 sessions for the foreseeable future. “Increasing the number of sessions will allow mental health professionals to better support individuals to work through the anxiety and complicated presentations we are seeing at this time. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) have reported instances of their clients rationing their sessions despite significant concerns about their mental health and a worsening of symptoms as this pandemic continues. Social workers have reported observing an increase in service users presenting with suicidal thoughts and concerning behaviours. This is not surprising given the current circumstances, however supporting someone through this is difficult with the limited number of sessions available at the present time. “People are experiencing heightened anxiety with this pandemic, due to many stressors including, loss of income, financial pressure, isolation, uncertainty about the future and for some, dealing with this alongside existing mental health issues. We are seeing an increase in incidents of family violence and worsening drug and alcohol abuse. It is clear that if we are to work to support the mental health of Australians through this pandemic and into recovery, there needs to be adequate service provision.” The federal government’s MBS review has identified the need for an increased number of sessions and the AASW looks forwarding to continuing to work with government on this issue alongside addressing pay parity for all mental health professionals who are undertaking the same work. Ms Craik said, “As stated in our numerous submissions to the inquiry, we believe MBS Better Access needs to be based on need and level of complexity.” One size does not fit all. There are 2,200 AMHSWs who are already supporting people through this current crisis but to be able to address ongoing and complex mental health concerns, there needs to be an increase in the number of sessions available to individuals. AMHSWs are working with GPs to address community mental health issues during this difficult time. AASW has created a COVID-19 flyer for GPs to help refer patients to an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker. Find out more on AASW’s GP webpage and download it today. Australian social workers encourage everyone to download COVIDSafe app 2020-04-27T03:47:35Z australian-social-workers-encourage-everyone-to-download-covidsafe-app The AASW welcomes the introduction of the COVIDSafe app, launched by the Australian government yesterday and encourages everyone to download the app. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The Australian community has come together over the past few weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. “We have done so well in this regard that some states are even beginning to cautiously lift restrictions, which is going to have a positive effect on mental health.” The introduction of a tracing app will assist health authorities to isolate actual and potential cases of COVID-19. “The AASW is asking everyone to download this app and play your part in helping to eliminate this virus. Social workers are working so hard to help people through this time, and anything we can do to assist this, needs to be done. “You simply make sure your Bluetooth is on, download the app and complete a short, non-identifying questionnaire. You do not have to use your real or full name, if you do not want to. “Downloading the app will assist in life returning to normal much more quickly, which is something everyone wants.” Australian social workers have made adjustments during this time to provide essential mental health, family violence, child protection, health, aged care, school social work services and other services that social workers provide. Ms Craik said, “Social work services have continued during this period and the Association is supporting its members through these extraordinary times, to deliver the very best services to the Australian public.” Measures to respond to mental health during COVID-19 crisis are welcome, says AASW 2020-03-30T05:51:25Z measures-to-respond-to-mental-health-during-covid-19-crisis-are-welcome-says-aasw The AASW welcomes the measures the Government announced on Sunday, 29 March. The Association is working with members to implement the government’s new measures to respond to mental health concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. It includes a $1.1 billion package to support mental health and family violence, the bulk of which is $669 million to Medicare-subsidised telehealth services and $150 million towards family violence supports. Australians are now able to access most Medicare services via telehealth, regardless of where they live. These include those delivered by Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) with a Medicare Provider Number and includes non-directive pregnancy counselling. If a client has a mental health care plan via Better Access and wants to use telehealth due to the impacts of COVID-19, allied health providers can use the new COVID-19 items instead of the usual Better Access items, to a maximum of 10 sessions under their current mental health plan. If clients had already begun treatment prior to the COVID-19 crisis, it will include those sessions also. National President Christine Craik said, “Social workers know only too well that emergency circumstances such as these lead to a surge in the incidence of mental health issues and family violence. The population has been directed to largely stay at home, which means that, not only are perpetrators likely to feel a sense of a loss of control over many aspects of their life at the present time, they will also have greater access to those who they feel entitled to abuse and control. Those living with family violence and abuse will also have a sense of fewer choices being available to them in terms of alternative living arrangements. “Social work is in the frontline service category, with social workers still providing supports and services under these circumstances. A lot has been said about our heroic health services workers and social workers are an integral part of that team.” The AASW also welcomes government support for residential tenancies. “We cannot allow homelessness to dramatically increase during a time when there is a surge in family violence cases and increased unemployment as a direct result of COVID-19,” Ms Craik said. Australian social workers respond to COVID-19 pandemic 2020-03-23T06:55:51Z australian-social-workers-respond-to-covid-19-pandemic The AASW is working with members and key stakeholders to address the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. AASW National President Christine Craik said “COVID-19 is deeply affecting all of us. Social workers, like many health professionals, are deeply concerned about the effects of the virus on individuals, groups, families, and the broader community. “The social work profession is over 100 years old and during this long history we have been there working to assist people and communities to support and recover from world wars, pandemics, global and regional crises and recessions. Through it all, social workers have worked side-by-side with people affected, driven by a deep commitment to social justice and human rights.” Social workers know that in times of crisis, we need to consider those who are disadvantaged and most vulnerable. Ms Craik said, “For example, we have already seen reports of an expected increase in family violence related to the conditions of the COVID-19 lock downs, and the broad reaching impacts that a downturn in the economy will have on those already dealing with anxiety and depression, mental health and homelessness, to name a few. “We have confidence in the strength of our communities to support each other through this crisis, but we also need to address potential shortfalls in the social services workforce as more staff become affected by the coronavirus,” she said. The AASW welcomes the extension of small business cashflow support to community services and charities in the second stimulus package, announced yesterday. Ms Craik said, “We await further detail about how and when community services on the frontline of responding to COVID-19 will receive the funding and whether it will be enough to adequately respond to the impending crisis. “We also welcome the increase of $275 per week to the Jobseeker Allowance (formerly Newstart) and Youth Allowance Job Seeker payment for the next six months. We urge for this to be extended to include students, those on the disability support payment and others on social security income support schemes”. AASW is updating its website for social workers as developments come to hand.