Activism and social work


  • Jude Irwin University of Sydney


Keynote Address delivered at the ANZSWWER Symposium, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, 3-4 October 2019


As educators and practitioners in the community, health and human services, if we are to move beyond the rhetoric of social justice and do social justice, social and political activism is one of the many ways we can do this and as such it has to be high in our educational and practice agenda and our lives. But is it?

I believe that in the context of neo-liberalist influences that have impinged on higher educational institutions (or should they now be called businesses or corporations),  professional organisations who monitor and accredit social work and welfare programs, and employers who are driven by managerialist imperatives  that social work and welfare education and research has, or is at risk of becoming more conservative. How can we as educators, researchers, practitioners and students move beyond this to work towards a just society? Activism is one way to do this - it is the theme of this conference and social justice activism is the focus of my address today. 


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Education for critical social work practice over the decades