‘Always take the weather with you’ – Aotearoa New Zealand social work in a dynamic global society

Sarah Fraser, Sophie Simpson


Social work in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the international community has weathered many storms over the years. The forecast is for further challenges ahead as the world continues to grapple with economic uncertainties, changing political forces and environments. While in the South Pacific, indigenous and local models of practice are being recognised, developed and refined, social work is also shaped by the global context of our profession. This article reviews the history of the 2000 International Definition of Social Work (International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), 2000) and explores the increasing diversity of voices behind the proposed new definition to be presented forratification at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in July 2014. The influence that social workers from our small South Pacific nation are having on the future of global social work is then explored from the perspectives of an emerging social work student and one who has been active in the profession for over three decades.


social change; social work practice; international definition of social work,

Full Text:



Akimoto, T. (2010). ‘The people from the Asia-Pacific region cannot agree with the current definition’ – a participant. Address to the Asia Pacific Association of Social Work Educators (APASWE) and International Schools of Social Work (IASSW). In Social Work Research Institute, Asian Centre for Welfare in Society, Japan College of Social Work (2011) Proceedings of the APASWE/IASSW Asian and Pacific Regional Workshop on the International Definition of Social Work Review. Japan: Kyoshin Co. Ltd.

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers. (n.d.) Bi-cultural partnership. Retrieved from http://anzasw. org.nz/about/topics/show/58-bi-cultural-partnership.

Blewett, J., Lewis, J., & Tunstill, J. (2007). The changing roles and tasks of social work: A literature informed discussion paper. Retrieved from http://www.gscc.uk.

Connolly, M. & Harms, L. (Eds). (2009) Social work: Contexts and practice (2nd ed). Australia: Oxford University Press.

Crowded House. (1991). Weather with you. On Woodface [Album]. USA: Capitol Records.

Deepak, A. (2012). Globalisation, power and resistance: Postcolonial and transnational feminist perspectives for social work practice. International Social Work, 55(6), 779-793. doi:10.1177/0020872811414038.

Dodds, I. & Johannesen, T. (2006). Foreword: 50 years IFSW. In N. Hall (Ed). Social work: Making a world of difference (pp. 5-13). Switzerland and Norway: International Federation of Social Workers and Fafo.

Dominelli, L. (2007). Contemporary challenges to social work education in the United Kingdom. Australian Social Work, 60(1), 29-45. doi: 10.1080/03124070601166695.

Ferguson, I. & Lavalette, M. (2006). Globalisation and global justice: Towards a social work of resistance. International Social Work, 49(3), 309-318. doi: 10.1177/0020872806063401.

Fraser, S. (2011). ‘What do we see when we look in the mirror? Is there a suit missing from the social worker’s wardrobe? A critical reflection on the missing role of the social worker as educator in every day practice’. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 13(1). 71-90. Retrieved from http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCsQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.anzswwer.org%2Fadvances%2FAdvances_Vol_13_No_1.pdf&ei=uUkSU4PUJ4HnkAW_tYDIAg&usg=AFQjCNHphvPoqTYzbWDEyUkuAVJS-DSpvw.

Garrett, P. (2008). Thinking with the Sardinian: Antonio Gramsci and social work. European Journal of Social Work, 11(3), 237-250. doi: 10.1080/13691450802075592.

Garrett, P. (2010). Examining the ‘conservative revolution’: Neoliberalism and social work education. Social Work Education, 29(4), 340-355. doi:10.1080/02615470903009015.

Gray, M. & Fook, J. (2004). The quest for a universal social work: Some issues and implications. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 23(5), 625-644. doi:10.1080/0261547042000252334.

Hare, I. (2006). Defining social work for the 21st century: The International Federation of Social Workers’ revised definition of social work. In N. Hall (Ed). Social work: Making a world of difference (pp. 257-267). Switzerland and Norway: International Federation of Social Workers and Fafo.

Harlow, E. (2003). New managerialism, social service departments and social work practice today. Practice: Social Work in Action, 15(2), 29-44. doi: 10.1080/09503150308416917.

Healy, L. (2001). International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ife, J. (2001). Local and global practice: Relocating social work as a human rights profession in the new global order. European Journal of Social Work, 4(1), 5-15. doi: 10.1080/714052835.

Ife, J. (2012). Human rights and social work: Towards rights-based practice (3rd ed). New York: Cambridge University Press.

International Federation of Social Workers (2012). Definition of social work. Retrieved from http://ifsw.org/policies/ definition-of-social-work.

International Federation of Social Workers (2014). Update on thereview of the Global Definition of Social Work. Retrieved from: http://ifsw.org/get-involved/global-definition-of-social-work.

International Federation of Social Workers, International Association of Schools of Social Work, International Council of Social Work (2012). The global agenda forsocial work and social development commitment to action. Retrieved from http://ifsw.org/get-involved/agenda-for-social-work.

International Labour Organisation (specialised agency of the United Nations) (n.d.). The report of the World Commission– toolkit. Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/legacy/english/fairglobalization/download/toolkit/ module4.pdf.

Jones, D. & Truell, R. (2012). The global agenda for social work and social development: A place to link together and be effective in a globalised world. International Social Work, 55(4), 454-472. doi:10.1177/0020872812440587.

Lorenz, W. (2008). Paradigms and politics: Understanding methods paradigms in an historical context: The case of social pedagogy. British Journal of Social Work, 38, 625-644. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcn025.

Mafile’o, T. (2009). Pasifika social work. In M. Connolly & L. Harms (Eds.), Social work contexts and practice (2nd ed) (pp. 121-135). Australia: Oxford University Press.

O’Brien, M. (2013). Social work registration and professionalism: Social justice and poverty – fellow travellers or discarded passengers? Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work. XXV(3). 50-59.

Payne, M. & Askeland, G. (2008). Globalisation and international social work: Postmodern change and challenge. England: Ashgate Publishing.

Rogawski, S. (2013). Critical social work with children and families: Theory, context and practice.

Ruwhiu, L. (2009). Indigenous issues in Aotearoa New Zealand. In M. Connolly & L. Harms (Eds.), Social work contexts and practice (2nd ed) (pp. 107-120). Australia: Oxford University Press.

Sciortino, G. (2010). Asingle societal community with full citizenship for all: Talcott Parsons, citizenship and modern society. Journal of Classical Sociology, 10(3), 239-258. doi: 10.1177/1468795X10371715.

Sewpaul, V. & Truell, R. (2013, September). Global social work definition. Presentation to National Association of Social Workers, South Africa.

TangataWhenua Social Workers Association. (n.d.). Korero aRopu. Retrieved from http://twswa.org.nz/index.html#.

Trygged, S. (2010). Balancing the global and local: Some normative reflections on international social work. International Social Work, 53, 644- 655. doi 10.1177/0020872810371204.

World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation (2004). A fair globalisation: Creating opportunities for all. Retrieved from the International Labour Organisation website: http://www.ilo.org/fairglobalization/ report/lang--cs/index.htm.

Wright Mills, C. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol26iss2-3id40


  • There are currently no refbacks.