… the real question is in what organizational form do individual social workers regain their democratic voice at the national and international level?

Jake Kuiken, suggests the development of alternative models

Although I strongly disagree with the decisions of both OASW and ACSW – and Quebec – about leaving the CASW, OASW and its President are to be commended for making space available on its website and for responding in public to questions. Those of us in Alberta learn more about what has happened and what ACSW Council is doing from colleagues in other parts of Canada than from ACSW Council and staff.

Regardless, the real question is in what organizational form do individual social workers regain their democratic voice at the national and international level?

The proposal from ACSW and OASW to affiliate with IFSW is largely meaningless in terms of supporting and substantially influencing the global voice of the profession. Likewise, joining CCSD and other like organizations are certainly worthy steps and perhaps even a bit overdue, but they silence the public voice of social work.

The social work profession is largely a product of the Industrial Revolution, an earlier period of social and economic chaos. What we have all experienced in recent years with the social, political, financial and economic upheaval and the events we are now, even today, witnessing in the Middle East are directly related to similar issues of fundamental human rights and social justice that gave rise to our profession. Meanwhile, three (Ontario, Alberta – and Quebec) provincial organizations are frittering away valuable time, arguing about individual social workers paying an average of $37 a year to support a national and international voice for social work. In the scheme of things it amounts to an argument about the number of angels that can dance on the head of pin!

A substantial group of past-Presidents of ACSW and others have begun to discuss and develop alternatives to the current model, which albeit incorrectly, is often described as a “federated” model.

For anyone interested in these discussions please feel free to contact me at jkuiken@ucalgary.ca and we’ll try to keep you informed. Unfortunately, there’s no place for alternate voices on the ACSW website for this kind of discussion.

Finally, allow me to explain that in view of its decision to terminate its membership in CASW on March 31, 2011, ACSW Council will apparently not be submitting a nomination for the CASW National Social Work Week Award. As a result a group of retired social workers will be submitting a nomination to CASW with the hope that the CASW Board will accept and recognize the nomination.

Thank you

Jake Kuiken PhD (C), RSW
Calgary, AB

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