Social work in the Quake zone: Supporting the sustainable development of Christchurch’s eastern communities
Keywords:canterbury earthquakes, christchurch earthquakes, disaster, non-government agencies, sustainable development, capabilities approach,
AbstractThis paper will focus on the role for social work intervention with people and communities affected by three major earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since the first and subsequent earthquakes in September 2010 and February and June 2011, non-government agencies in Christchurch and the greater Canterbury region have been key providers of immediate crisis support. Whilst this type of service provision is not new territory for the social services, the impetus of the need and long-term nature of the earthquake recovery necessitates an expansive,responsive and empowering practice approach to facilitate ongoing sustainable development in the most affected communities. In consideration of the principles of sustainable development and Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach (Seng, 1999), this article will examine ways of working with people beyond alleviating immediate problems towards restoring personal well-being, taking agency, exercising rights, connecting with others and becoming directly involved in the rebuild of Christchurch city and neighbourhood communities. These considerations provide an argument for expanding the scope of social work by reconceptualising its ecological framework and the work of individual and social change to respond to the needs of the affected people of Christchurch.
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