The Why, What, Where of social work: A personal reflection on the social work role over a thirty-year period

Pam Smith


As the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers celebrates its 50th anniversary it is timely to reflect on our personal and professional journeys. I present my reflections and then I consider why others may enter the profession and what literature tells us. I conclude with an encouragement for others. The ‘what’ and ‘where’ I briefly touch on but leave as a challenge for others to explore.


reflection; 50th anniversary; social work profession;

Full Text:



Aimers, J., & Walker, P. (2008). Is community accountability being overlooked as a result of government-third sector partnering in New Zealand? Social Work Review, XX: 14-24.

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, Inc. (2008). Practice standards.

Beddoe, L., & Hyslop, I. (2003). Building on the high hard ground. Social Work Now, 24: 31-37.

Cameron, S., & Wilson-Salt, A. (1995). The summary of the report: The experience of social workers working in the area of care and protection under the Children, Young Person and their Families Act (1989). Social Work Review, V11(2).

Children’s Commission. (2013). Expert Advisory Group on solutions to child poverty. Solutions to child poverty in New Zealand: Evidence for action. Retrieved from

Dearsley, P. (2000). Statutory social work (but is it really social work?). Social Work Review, VX11 (2).

Elliot, T.S. (1942). Little Gidding. Four Quartets. US: Harcourt.

Hay, K., Franklin, L., & Hardyment, A. (2012). From student to employee: A conversation about transition and readiness for practice in a statutory social work organization. Social Work Now, 50: 2-9.

James, B., & Saville-Smith, K. (1989). Gender, culture and power. Auckland: Oxford University Press.

Jones, A., & May, J. (1992). Working in human service organisations. Cheshire: Longman.

McCreary, J.R. (1994). Keynote address to 1964 Conference. Social Work Review, V1 (4): 4-6.

Muller, P. (1994). For young & old. Invercargill: Presbyterian Support Services Southland.

NZ Children and Young Persons Service. (1993). Competency programme.

Phillips, J. (1996). A man’s country? The image of the Pakeha male – a history. Auckland: Penguin Books.

Powell, K. (2005). The effect of adult Playcentre participation on the creation of social capital in local communities – report to the New Zealand Playcentre Federation. Palmerston North: Massey University.

Reporting Domestic Family Violence. Retrieved from

Ritchie, J.E. (2008) The relation of the university to the profession of social work. Social Work Review, XX (2).

Shannon, P., & Young, S. (2004). Solving social problems: Southern perspectives. Victoria: Dunmore Press.

Shannon, P., & Walker, P. (2006). Community development and control in a state-local partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand. Community Development Journal, 41, 506-520.

Shirley, I. (1990). Social Policy.In P. Spoonley, D. Pearson, & I. Shirley (Eds), New Zealand Society. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Smith, P. (2001). Statutory social work: A study of workers’ expectations and realisations. Social Work Review V X111(4), 22-24.

Susser, M. (1968). Cited in P. Hardiker, & M. Baker, Towards social theory for social work. In J. Lishman (Ed). Handbook of theory for practice teachers in social work. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Uttley, S. (1981). Why social work? A comparison of British and New Zealand Studies. British Journal of Social Work, VII: 329-340.

Waterman, B. T. (2002). Motivation for choosing social service as a career. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.