Front-line perspectives on the OASW and the national vision for social work

Most of you who are on the email list for both CASW and OASW would have received the CASW Organizational review and statement along with a FAQ – from OASW on the topic of our “suspended” membership with CASW. Many of us do not have the time to dive into the world of the national and provincial social work sector strategic and policy issues. Actually it is quite daunting when you get into – the multiple governance and regulation issues; the struggles to maintain a constructive profile of the profession; the divide between social work academics and social workers immersed in the practice to give a taste.

We end up relying on our leaders to do their best in guiding us front line workers and yet our social work hierarchy, our power structures, have many of the structural weakness’ we often encounter in the organizations and systems we work in every day. The unfolding collapse of the CASW is a vivid example. While our provincial and national leaders work to set new directions to improve social work, an often thankless task, there is a also need for the front-line social workers they represent to enter the dialogue. Dialogue that promotes both listening and learning.

I have the impression from hearing and reading about the divergent perspectives of what a national social work direction should be, that one view will simply replace another – rather than building structures that support the incorporation of depth and breadth of the social work perspective of the world. Our vision of the profession and its place in Canadian society is highly relevant to how we as social workers structure ourselves when we consider the challenges to the profession both the CASW and OASW identify.

Currently it feels to me that the struggles and barriers to advance the profession and the people we serve need to flush out multiple perspectives rather than leaving it all to our leaders sitting in board rooms. We need to help the information flow – one way, is to try and bring in views, and share information in venues such as this component of the Eastern Branch Blog. Its goal is to bring in multiple perspectives and all are welcome to join in, share, read, leading hopefully to building dialogue.

One comment

  1. Martha Wiebe

    Bill thanks for starting the discussion about the OASW Board’s decision to suspend membership with CASW on March 31, 2011.  I am very disappointed that the OASW Board has decided that the CASW does not provide sufficient value.  While questions might well be raised about the value provided by OASW I have been very pleased with the activist stance that CASW has take over the past several years.  CASW has been a strong voice on numerous national issues, critiquing federal budgets, action (or inaction) by the  government on housing, seniors, child care, social supports and many other issues and CASW has been a regular presence at national discussion tables.  CASW has helped to elevate and bring credibility to the profession of social work.  
    Further I am distressed by the process used by OASW.  Where is the transparency?  I understand that this decision resulted from a motion passed in a teleconference meeting at the end of September. Why the rush and why the lack of consultation with the membership?   
    Martha Wiebe