Social work and public health – Logical collaborators

Justin Canty


This last year, our lives have been turned upside down by Covid-19 and the public health responses needed to keep our communities safe. Most of us probably
had little awareness of public health before this. At the height of lockdown, and almost overnight, public health had become a topic of daily conversation; suddenly, everyone was talking about epidemiology, and disease modelling. The pandemic turned public health from obscurity into a focus

of intense and life-saving relevance, taking public health professionals a bit by surprise; everyone from chief medical officers to epidemiologists were getting crash courses in media interviews and press conferences. Skilled health communicators such as Siouxie Wiles in Aotearoa New Zealand and Norman Swan in Australia became crucial interpreters for the wider community in

the face of complex information about the pandemic. While many social workers may not know a lot about public health, either as a discipline or specialisation of medical practice, there are substantial points of connection with our profession—enough to consider that social work and public health are logical collaborators.


Social work; public health; covid-19; pandemic

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