The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2019-05-17T00:07:39Z AASW supports International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) 2019-05-17T00:07:39Z aasw-supports-international-day-against-homophobia-biphobia-intersexism-and-transphobia-idahobit On 17 May, the Australian Association of Social Workers recognises the importance of this date and issues raised by IDAHOBIT, as we continue to take a stand against discrimination of the LGBTIQ community. It marks the day the World Health Organization made the decision in 1990 to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “Today is the day before a Federal election. We call on the next government to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ across the nation. “As social workers, we have noticed that the use of these discredited therapies has actually been on the rise in Australia. It is a situation we have been monitoring. As a profession, it can sometimes be our job to help un-do the damage that these so-called ‘therapies’ can cause to families and individuals.” Ms Craik said much action is still needed to counter discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Australia. “We are saddened and disappointed that homophobic, biphobic, intersexist and transphobic views continue to be broadcast, and that they are given air time in our media and community,” she said. “We only have to look at highly influential but misinformed media commentary which led to the ultimate disbandment of the Safe Schools program nationally. We want to see the Safe Schools program reinstated in its full scope and we urge the next government to do so. These programs save lives.” Ms Craik urged Australia to promote human rights and counter homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia internationally. “There is much influence that Australia has abroad, particularly in our part of the world. It would be great to see our political leaders taking a diplomatic stance on Brunei, which recently introduced and then retracted the death penalty for homosexuality. It is still illegal though. It is good to see the recent boycotts have gone some way to working. Brunei is a fellow Commonwealth country and one in our region. Now is the time for political leaders to flex diplomatic muscle and use it to promote human rights.” Christine Craik is available for interview. National Families Week 2019: The AASW renews its call for urgent action to address family violence 2019-05-16T23:33:51Z national-families-week-2019-the-aasw-renews-its-call-for-urgent-action-to-address-family-violence During National Families Week 2019 (15-21 May), the AASW celebrates families as the central building block of our society. This year’s theme, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities, highlights their protective and nurturing capacity, while also recognising the threats to families from gender-based violence. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “As social workers, we see the pivotal role that families play in building healthy and supportive communities. In working together to improve wellbeing, we see the great diversity and resilience of families in the face of significant challenges. “However, we also see far too often that the very place that women and children should feel safe, within a family unit, is the very place where they are most at risk.” Family violence is still far too prevalent in Australia, with those who perpetrate family violence destroying the safety and caring that the family unit should provide to all its members. Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that family violence is a leading cause of homelessness in children under 10. The high rate of child protection notifications correlate with the family violence that is perpetrated against women and children. At least one woman per week is killed by a current or former partner in Australia. Ms Craik said, “These devastating instances of family violence need to stop. It begins with cultural change and government policies, including funding of early intervention as well as support at the crisis and recovery level, especially housing and income support for those escaping violence. “We are now in the last throes of a Federal election campaign. In our Election Platform 2019, we have asked for the next government to commit to using the recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence as a blueprint for national systemic reforms. “If Australia is to build Stronger Families and Stronger Communities, this must begin with addressing the national emergency that is occurring within the family home across Australia.” Christine Craik is available for interview. AASW South Australian Branch Social Worker of the Year Awards 2019 2019-05-03T07:17:10Z aasw-south-australian-branch-social-worker-of-the-year-awards-2019 The night of nights for social workers in South Australia was held last night at the Beach House in Glenelg, hosted by the AASW’s South Australian Branch. The Awards were an opportunity to celebrate and pay tribute to the tireless commitment that many qualified South Australian social workers provide in their often challenging and complex work. AASW South Australian Branch President Patricia Muncey said, “The South Australian Social Worker of the Year Awards reflect the collaborative efforts of nominees and their commitment to the values of social work. “This year’s winners highlight the breadth and depth of social work practice across South Australia. We are proud to recognise social workers who are at different stages of their careers from student to advanced practitioner.” There were award winners in six categories: Student of the year – Sioban Prideaux, UniSA Ms Prideaux was awarded for generously contributing to the local student community and supporting Women’s Safety Services. Rising Star - Emma Drummond, Department of Child Protection, Adelaide Ms Drummond was commended for applying high levels of cultural responsiveness in her delivery of child protection services. Leading the Way in the Workplace - Cassandra Dunn, Drug & Alcohol Services SA Ms Dunn was commended for her leadership in inspiring students and co-workers to break down barriers for clients in the field of drug and alcohol services. Rural and Remote Impact - Tara Blaikie, Department of Child Protection, Far North Far West Region Ms Blaikie was commended for achieving positive outcomes for children in her region, using knowledge of local communities and social work values. Head, Heart & Hands - Cassandra Dunn, Drug & Alcohol Services SA Ms Dunn was commended for driving changes across clinical guidelines to address the needs of a diverse range of client groups. Agent of Change - Verity Paterson, Country Health SA Local Health Network Ms Paterson was recognised for working tirelessly to address disadvantage in the Eyre and Far North Health region in collaboration with a range of service agencies. Department for Child Protection (DCP) Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said: “We are proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the Awards and recognise the important role of social workers in the community. “We are pleased to partner with the Australian Association of Social Workers to deliver these Awards, which highlight the positive impact social workers have on our most vulnerable children and families. “Social workers are amazing people who make a world of difference to those who are experiencing difficulty in their lives. “I congratulate all the winners and thank all those who nominated, for the effort you put in day in, day out, to help others.” ‘School pressure, family life, digital identity, increased expectations’: the reason Girl Guides exists today 2019-04-30T22:43:54Z school-pressure-family-life-digital-identity-increased-expectations-the-reason-girl-guides-exists-today Girl Guides NSW & ACT will focus on the role Guiding plays in supporting young girls navigate school pressures, family life, digital identity and raised expectations with the launch of a new campaign called A Place To Grow to coincide with May - Girl Guides Month. This vital piece of communication to young girls, their families and thousands of active and potential volunteers, will highlight the diverse experiences on offer and its relevance for the young girls of today. Sarah Neill, State Commissioner said that Girl Guides provides a place for young people to feel secure. “We come together over a variety of activities, build confidence and resilience which makes our young people better able to cope with their lives. “We encourage our girls to build life skills, and have the freedom to be adventurous, learn strong communication skills, laugh, and make life-long friendships,” said Commissioner Neill. Ella Ezergailis, aged 12, was inspired to join Girl Guides after hearing her mother’s stories of Guiding and wanted her share of adventure and fun. In 2018, Ella became the youngest Girl Guide to take part in ‘Girl Takeover Parliament’ event, in which she watched Question Time in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. Disgusted by the behaviour, Ella wrote a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling him so. “I decided to write to the Prime Minister and ask him to change the culture in Parliament House. I told him he should visit my school to learn how to behave respectfully. “My letter was shared around the world on social media and was reported by news outlets. “Girl Guides has given me the confidence to do such a thing, however the result made me feel that a 12-year-old girl’s voice was important, and girls do have the power to change the world,” said Ella. Now in its 99th year, Girl Guides in NSW & ACT has 7,400 members across 540 Units. Comissioner Neill said recent research revealed that 90% of girls joined the organisation before the age of 11 and stayed because it provided the perfect antidote to the complex and pressured lives of young people. “Our research showed that young girls join for the things they need most at this stage of their lives: fun, meeting friends outside of school and developing new skills. “Parents said they wanted their daughters to join to help them build their confidence, meet new friends and have a community orientation to their life. “Our programs offer a connection to experiences and community that schools and busy families can’t. “We have large scale events and the traditional jamboree, but mostly girls choose their own activities to complete, from creative pursuits to sailing, coding to cooking, orientation to fundraising,” said Commissioner Neill. A Place To Grow will use the 540 Units of Girl Guides NSW & ACT, to promote the stories of resilience, confidence building and friendship it encourages, through social media, local press, local events such as school fetes and Girl Guides own Come and Try nights. Helen White, CEO said, the grass-roots approach is what Girl Guides excel at. “Over 1,000,000 Australians are or have been a Girl Guide. We work at the local level, in communities and across regions supporting and empowering the women of tomorrow. “There is a resurgence of interest in Girl Guides, as young people and their families look at ways to combat the pressures of busy and digital lives. We’re all about supporting someone to find their own path, to build resilience, and life skills to take them wherever they wish,” said Ms White. However, is Girl Guides still relevant for the girls of today? Ella says that it is. “Girl Guides is even more relevant to young people growing up with a digital life. “Girl Guides teaches you how to interact socially, be a responsible citizen, how to deal with emergency situations and gives you the courage to accept challenges. “I even went on camp for a week without my phone, and I survived.” More information: www.aplacetogrow.org.au New Media App Launches To Kill Off The Press Release 2019-04-30T04:15:39Z new-media-app-launches-to-kill-off-the-press-release A new technology platform has launches tomorrow made just for you. This tech platform called Story Match® will change the way that you receive your story pitches. No more emails, no more press releases and no more hassling PRs (I promise not to be one of those…) First, watch this! In 1.5 minutes it will explain it all to you… Story Match® is a two sided market place App and Desktop platform that allows brands to pitch story ideas to journalists, at the same time allowing journalists to select only what topics of stories they want to receive. Journalists, like you, set up their profile using 6 simple steps. You can select from up to 50 industry tags (food, finance, lifestyle, tech, etc etc) and can localise by State and Territories. If there’s a match on industry tags then you see the pitch. Using swiping technology you can scroll through stories, swipe left if you don’t like the story or right if you do. If you swipe right, it will open an immediate and private chat between you and the person who posted the pitch. The best bit…. The pitches have limitations – so brands can only upload selected images, a headline and up to 500 characters to bring their pitch to life. They then select which industry tag their story is relevant to, and localise it. So now you don’t need to read any more press releases or receive any more pitches that you’re not interested in. Story Match® was developed to improve efficiencies in the media industry, and allow all brands, no matter how big or small the opportunity to get their brand noticed. The tech platform has been developed by Founder and Director of Polkadot Communications Dionne Taylor – who has worked both as a journalist and a PR for the last 15 years. Dionne is available for an interview to chat about this new and exciting platform, built just for YOU! If interested in speaking with Dionne, please get in touch. AASW publishes its Federal Election Policy Platform 2019 2019-04-24T01:10:28Z aasw-publishes-its-federal-election-policy-platform-2019 The AASW has today published its Policy Platform in anticipation of the Federal Election, to be held on Saturday, 18 May. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “Now is the time that we have the opportunity to challenge inequality and bring to the fore how we can achieve a just society. “We have written to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition that should they form the next government, there are several issues that require urgent attention. “We look forward to working with whoever forms government to implement our platform, which will ensure an Australia where each individual is valued and is given the opportunity to thrive in a supportive environment.” During this election campaign, the Association will focus on the following issues: Quality of the social work workforce Reconciliation Family violence Medicare, mental health and the role of social workers Refugees and people seeking asylum Mental health People living with disability and the NDIS Income support and employment programs Housing Aged care Redress Sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals. Read our complete Policy Platform 2019. See more of our campaign actions on the Federal Election on our website. This website will be updated as the election campaign progresses. The Association welcomes involvement from all in advancing the Policy Platform. Christine Craik is available for interview. Increasing income support would have made a better Budget than tax cuts, say Australian social workers 2019-04-03T03:20:24Z increasing-income-support-would-have-made-a-better-budget-than-tax-cuts-say-australian-social-workers The projected Budget surplus has been delivered off the backs of Australia’s most vulnerable, according to the Australian Association of Social Workers. The AASW welcomes the establishment of the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, as recommended by the Royal Commission, as well as funding for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. However, there is much more that can and should be done in the next financial year. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The projected surplus is not a measure of a good Budget, when we have three million people in our country who are living in poverty. “The surplus calculation is nothing to be proud of when it is the direct result of an underspend on the NDIS and when it increases inequality in Australia. Supporting our most vulnerable should have been prioritised over tax cuts. This should have included a substantial increase in Newstart and Youth Allowance and no further roll-out of the Cashless Debit Card, which the government’s own evaluation shows doesn’t work. “Furthermore, family violence is a major national emergency, with one woman a week being killed by a perpetrator. This year’s commitment pales in comparison to the years of neglect. We need comprehensive and continuous funding to seriously address Australia’s real security threat at a structural level. “In this Budget, the government has outlined that trying to win the next election through tax cuts is more important than distributing wealth in way that creates a fair and just Australia for all.” Most households in the lowest income bracket will get no benefit from tax cuts and those on Newstart will also miss out on the one-off $75 (single) $125 (couple) energy assistance payment. Ms Craik said, “The Budget should be measured by how much it is addressing the causes of poverty and making sure that everyone has access to the support they need to improve their lives, which will also have long-term benefits to our country. “To deliver lasting change to Australians, you need to start by ensuring that the Budget makes allocations that will address the causes of poverty and inequality. “These allocations should be considered an investment in our country’s people, not a deficit that is to be avoided at all costs. “As it stands, this Budget surplus has been calculated at a real human cost.” During the 2019-2020 Budget submission, the AASW called for: Lifting the amount of income support payments to the level of the Minimum Income for Healthy Living, which is $866.00 per fortnight for a single person, up from the current amount of $555.70 Replacing the current punitive policies on unemployed people with initiatives that have been proven to create pathways into work, including a thorough review of the cashless welfare debit card before there is a further roll-out Ensuring that the services and programs within the Close the Gap initiative are planned, implemented, evaluated and governed by Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations (ACCOs) Increasing access to rural and remote mental health services Providing for a national housing affordability and homelessness strategy Providing for the full price of services within the NDIS as recommended by the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS Guaranteeing continuous funding for a full range of prevention, early intervention and crisis programs to prevent and respond to family violence Providing an undertaking to implement all recommendations that will be made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Read our 2019-2020 Budget submission. Christine Craik is available for interview. Harmony is more important than ever this week 2019-03-22T01:28:55Z harmony-is-more-important-than-ever-this-week Harmony Week in Australia coincided with important dates this week, including the International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Social Work Day and the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attack in Christchurch. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “These events remind us that ‘harmony’ within our communities and across society rests on recognising the dignity of every person, while welcoming diversity. “That is how we promote the human rights of everyone. “This year’s Harmony Week shows us how important it is that we all promote inclusion and end discrimination based on differences in heritage, culture or belief.” This year’s AASW World Social Work Day events took time to reflect on the tragedy in Christchurch and how important social work values are in countering racism. Ms Craik said, “Social workers are passionate advocates for justice and helping families, communities and societies to build relationships based on solidarity and mutual respect. “This is how we will eliminate racial discrimination in our country. We need to reflect on the culture that can make politicians believe that there are votes to be gained by blaming refugees, immigrants or Indigenous people for issues that are not related to them, such as pressure on health care, crowded cities or welfare spending. It’s the same culture that led to the terrible act of violence last Friday.” “Social workers are dedicated to creating a society which is just and inclusive in which it is possible for everyone to flourish and thrive. Eliminating racial discrimination is fundamental to our vision. “Now is the time when we look to our leaders to set an example and we call on politicians, business and community groups to commit to join us in eliminating all forms of discrimination.” Christine Craik is available for interview. AMHSWs are experts in complexity, new report published today says 2019-03-21T02:40:39Z amhsws-are-experts-in-complexity-new-report-published-today-says Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) provide a vital service to those experiencing mental health disorders according to its new report Accredited Mental Health Social Workers: Qualifications, Skills and Experience. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “This report will be an important resource in the Association’s advocacy for greater recognition of AMHSWs under Medicare, other programs, and private health funds. “In documenting the breadth of skills and experience, high standard of qualification of AMHSWs, this report demonstrates that AMHSWs are truly experts in complexity.” AMHSWs are one of the few designated allied health professional groups eligible to provide private mental health services to people with diagnosable mental health conditions or people ‘at risk’ of developing mental health conditions under the Commonwealth Medicare initiative. There are currently more than 2,200 AMHSWs working across major cities, regional, rural and remote regions. As a group of providers, AMHSWs are the second largest after the combined group of Clinical Psychologists and Registered Psychologists. This report provides an overview of the skills, knowledge and services provided by AMHSWs, and is based on extensive analysis of AASW data, including 2013 and 2018 member surveys. According to the report: More than 40 per cent of AMHSWs provide services in rural and remote areas More than 60 per cent of AMHSWs have postgraduate qualifications More than 75 per cent of AMHSWs have over 10 years’ practice experience AMHSWs use a wide range of therapeutic interventions, including cognitive behavioural therapy, strengths-based approach and mindfulness People can access the service of AMHSWs through several programs including Medicare, NDIS, DVA and some private health funds. To further illustrate the contribution of AMHSWs, illustrative case studies are included throughout. The AASW is responsible for the accreditation of AMHSWs and is committed to maintaining the high standard of practice of the profession in this sector. Read the complete report. Access the infographic that summarises the report. Christine Craik is available for interview. An interview with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker is also available. World Social Work Day: Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships 2019-03-18T21:34:43Z world-social-work-day-promoting-the-importance-of-human-relationships World Social Work Day is held each year on the third Tuesday of March to celebrate the profession of social work and the role of social workers in the community. This year’s theme is Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships. This year, it is held on 19 March. The Australian Association of Social Workers, as the professional body representing more than 11,000 social workers, is marking World Social Work Day with celebrations throughout Australia. AASW National President Christine Craik said human relationships are at the essence of what social workers do, in the diversity of settings in which they work. Ms Craik said, “The vital work of social workers can be seen in a wide variety of settings. Whether we work in health, mental health, schools, child protection, aged care, disability, family violence, academia or management, we bring the values of our profession to wherever we work.” In a world dominated by individualism and the changing nature of community, it is necessary to emphasise the importance of our relationships to one another and the role that this plays in creating an inclusive and supportive society. Ms Craik said, “This is at the heart of the work we do. Promoting the importance of human relationships means recognising the rights and dignity of fellow human beings and treating them and their ways of knowing, with respect and compassion. “Promoting the importance of human relationships for social workers means more than just that phrase. As social workers, we work to identify, name and change the systems and attitudes in our society that impact, diminish and work against healthy relationships. “For example, in promoting the importance of human relationships, we need to call out and advocate against the discriminatory and abusive policies and structures that continue to oppress some of the most vulnerable groups in society. “These include our welfare, housing, legal, medical, political and many of our religious systems – that often disregard the importance and crucial nature of ‘relationship’ in this work.” The large scope of social work practice can be seen in the diversity of the celebrations taking place across Australia. The Association is hosting celebrations in every state and territory through its branches. The complete list of events, resources, posters and social media frames are available on the AASW website. Ms Craik said, “I encourage everyone to engage with this year’s theme of Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships. On 19 March, join our Twitter campaign and tweet us using #WSWD19, with a photo depicting human relationships. “So join social workers all over the world in celebrating the amazing work that we do, and have a happy World Social Work Day.” Christine Craik is available for interview. You can view Ms Craik’s World Social Work Day video on Facebook. AASW South Australian Branch calls for Social Worker of the Year nominations 2019-03-08T01:40:31Z aasw-south-australian-branch-calls-for-social-worker-of-the-year-nominations The Australian Association of Social Workers South Australian Branch is seeking nominations for the Social Worker of the Year Awards to give individuals and groups who work with the state’s most vulnerable populations a chance to shine. AASW South Australian Branch President Patricia Muncey said, “We urge South Australians to nominate an inspiring social worker in their network, to honour and reward those making positive contributions health and well-being and upholding best practice across our community.” The Awards have been recognising social workers who are making a significant contribution across the broad spectrum of practice, since 2016. The categories of the Award are: Agent of Change Head, Heart and Hands Leading the Way in the Workplace Rising Star Rural and Remote Impact Student of the Year. Entries can be submitted by the general public as well as professionals who work alongside social workers throughout South Australia. Nominations close on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 at 5.00pm ACDT. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Adelaide on Thursday, 2 May, providing an opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions of all nominees. For more information and to nominate a social worker, see the AASW website. Balance for Better: Social workers call for action on gender inequality 2019-03-08T00:21:33Z balance-for-better-social-workers-call-for-action-on-gender-inequality The 2019 theme of International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) calling for action on gender inequality. AASW National President Christine Craik said gender equality is vital to health and future of our nation, and to the work of social workers. Ms Craik said, “We need to recognise that when women are disadvantaged, we are all poorer. “Social workers feel the effects of gender inequality both professionally and personally. Professionally, we strive to address the effects of gender inequality with the people and communities we work with at an individual and a systems level. “Personally, social work is also a female dominated profession. It is a highly skilled occupation which can often carry elements of risk in practice. However, like many other female dominated professions, social work is often not paid at the rate of similar male dominated professions, nor does it come with the status of male dominated professions that carry the same risks and the same (or often lower) qualification levels. Social workers well understand the need to Balance for Better. “Australia’s report card for gender equality is not looking good. More women than ever before are being incarcerated around Australia for crimes of poverty and through living lives influenced by trauma, family violence and sexual abuse. “There is an alarming increase in homelessness for women and children as a result of family violence and for women over the age of 55, many of whom find themselves with little in the way of superannuation or savings, due to their years of unpaid and uncounted work of caring and child-rearing. Government policies such as the Centrelink automated debt recovery scheme, robodebt, and the ParentsNext program are punitive, deficit-based and are contributing to increasing numbers of women and children living in poverty. “If we are to Balance for Better this International Women’s Day, then we must address the root causes of inequality and the misogynistic and discriminatory policies which devalue and fail women. If these are not addressed, then the inequitable situation we currently have will continue to enable the unacceptable rates of family violence, sexual violence, poverty, and homelessness that we see now. “This starts with recognising women as equals and that the work women do is of equal value to that of men, whether it is paid or unpaid. It means recognising that women need to be in positions of power, including on boards and in government. “Then we will truly be able to Balance for Better.” Christine Craik is available for interview. Australian social workers welcome the Victorian Government’s plan to ban ‘conversion therapy’ 2019-02-07T01:17:51Z australian-social-workers-welcome-the-victorian-governments-plan-to-ban-conversion-therapy As the Victorian Branch of the Australian Association of Social Workers took to the streets on Sunday to support LGBTIQ Victorians at the Midsumma Pride March, the Association welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that it plans to outlaw ‘conversion therapy’. The harmful and thoroughly debunked practice aims to change, suppress or eliminate an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. While the practice is not outlawed, it sends a message that LGBTIQ individuals are not ‘normal’ and need to be fixed. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “These messages do so much damage and need to be stopped. We stand with LGBTIQ Australians and support the Victorian Government’s stance on banning conversion therapy. This planned ban follows an extensive investigation into conversion practices by the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC), who found those subjected to this so-called ‘therapy’ experienced long-term psychological harm and distress. This is something that social workers and other mental health professionals have known for many years. “The Victorian Government’s announcement sends a clear and positive message to young people who may be dealing with the stress and anxiety of knowing they are same-sex attracted and the social pressures that are associated with it in an unaccepting environment. “We call on other Australian states and territories to follow Victoria’s lead in outlawing the practice. We further call on the Australian Government to support the states and territories by fully funding the Safe Schools Program, which aims to create understanding and stop the bullying and marginalisation of LGBTIQ children and young people in schools. “The Australian Government must also make clear that discrimination against employees or students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated. “We all have a role in taking a stand against homophobia, including internalised homophobia, which is when LGBTIQ individuals can sometimes believe the homophobic messages and attitudes around them. It causes needless harm and division in communities and can lead to poorer health and wellbeing outcomes in LGBTIQ individuals, which we have seen is sometimes fatal. “This is why the Victorian Government’s announcement is so important – it is a welcome step in continuing to affirm the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ Australians.” Christine Craik is available for interview. Media contact Angela Yin Communications Lead P 03 9320 1005 M 0413 532 954 Australian social workers support the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, calls on government to restore Australia’s place as a human rights leader 2018-12-10T00:37:49Z australian-social-workers-support-the-70th-anniversary-of-the-un-declaration-of-human-rights-calls-on-government-to-restore-australias-place-as-a-human-rights-leader On the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Australian Association of Social Workers calls on the government to take serious action to fulfil its human rights commitments. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The AASW continues to have serious concerns over Australia’s breach of human rights, including the treatment of people seeking asylum, and the systems abuses of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children, including their overrepresentation in the justice system. “Article One of the declaration tells us that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, and although Australia prides itself on values of respect, dignity and compassion, it is clear the Australian government is failing in this regard. “For example, Indigenous Australians are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned, often for minor offences like unpaid fines[1], than the rest of the Australian population, and Aboriginal women are the fastest growing prisoner demographic in Australia[2]. “Furthermore, despite being a signatory to many UN conventions that protect human rights, the Australian government appears undeterred by repeated calls by the UN to end offshore ‘processing’ of people seeking asylum. Not only this, we have people who have been held in indefinite closed onshore detention for almost 10 years. “Social workers see first-hand the devastating consequences of government policies that neglect the freedoms provided by the Human Rights Declaration. “People are sick of the political rhetoric and cruelty of the Australian government around people seeking asylum, and they are using their vote to show it, as we have seen in recent by-elections. This is very much an election issue now, and if the government isn’t willing to act on this as a humanitarian issue then perhaps the threat of losing office will move them to action. The election is an important time for those in all political parties to show moral leadership, honour our legacy of compassion and not pander to the politics of fear and racism.” As social workers, we will continue to advocate against human rights violations and look forward to the day when the Australian Government stops exploiting the public’s fear, misconceptions and prejudices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, asylum seekers and refugees for political gain, and becomes a global leader for human rights. The AASW represents over 11,000 professional social workers from around Australia. Christine Craik is an Ambassador for Kids off Nauru. Christine Craik is available for interview. [1] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/australia [2] Ibid. Local adoption report published: A time to recommit to the best interests and cultural rights of Indigenous children 2018-11-27T01:44:37Z local-adoption-report-published-a-time-to-recommit-to-the-best-interests-and-cultural-rights-of-indigenous-children The Australian Association of Social Workers’ (AASW) submission to the Federal Government’s review into local adoptions has been cited in the report which was published yesterday, Breaking barriers: a national adoption framework for Australian children. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The report marks an important time for governments to refocus and recommit to upholding the best interests of children in all adoption matters. “Children and young people in the care of the State are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Adoption must only be considered when all other options for the child’s safety and wellbeing have been expertly assessed as not suitable.” AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative Director, Linda Ford said, “In ensuring their safety and wellbeing, attention must be paid to the child’s holistic needs. When working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the AASW contends that planning must be culturally appropriate, with a focus upon the child maintaining connection with their family, culture and other significant relationships. “With the rate of removal of Indigenous children being 10 times that of non-Indigenous children, the pain and trauma of removal of Indigenous children cannot be consigned to the past. “The system’s focus upon punitive removal measures has profound negative consequences, severing family and cultural ties, intensifying transgenerational trauma and contributing to the ongoing dispossession, disadvantage and oppression experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. “For cases where removal is in the best interests of the child, systemic change is needed to address barriers and lack of support available to Aboriginal families that could foster or adopt. Areas for change include the need to amend the inherent bias and discrimination in application forms that demand a certain literacy and education level for applicants. Factors such as these do not determine an individual’s capacity to provide a safe and caring home.” Ms Craik said, “It is governments’ responsibility to support families to live in safe environments, stopping the risk of abuse and neglect before it arises. “With 17 per cent of total child protection funding on family support services for children and their families, compared with 83 per cent on child protection services, the AASW calls on the government to focus efforts on early intervention and family support that are built on partnership and collaboration with Indigenous communities.” The AASW calls on governments to commit and redirect funding to supporting and working with Indigenous communities and families to ensure the rights and needs of every child is upheld. The AASW represents over 10,000 professional social workers from around Australia, many of whom work in child protection. Christine Craik and Linda Ford are available for interview.