Decolonising field education: challenging Australian social work praxis

Zuchowski, Ines, Savage, Dorothy, Miles, Debra, and Gair, Susan (2013) Decolonising field education: challenging Australian social work praxis. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 15 (1). 5. pp. 47-62.

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Social Work's contribution to Australia's legacy of colonisation, the Stolen Generation and ongoing child welfare interventions, may make entering the profession a contentious issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Yet the profession is poorer for their absence, and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous social work graduates is a quest aligned with social justice, and with social work as a human rights profession.Field education is considered a significant and important process through which students are socialised into the profession. Questions arise about how professional enculturation might occur for Indigenous students as they put theory into practice, when this theory and practice derives from dominant western frameworks.

In this article we present findings from research exploring the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social work and welfare students in field placements. The findings identify racism as ever-present, highlight the impact of Eurocentricsm on practice, and reveal the disregard of Aboriginal cultural ways of helping and the potential for disempowerment. These findings have implications for social work praxis and social work education. Recommendations for improved practice and further research are made.

Item ID: 28228
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1329-0584
Keywords: field education; Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; decolonisation; social work education; theory to practice
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Also presented at the Australian Association of Social Work and Welfare Education Symposium Program Celebrating Diversity, 27-28 September 2012, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

Funders: Australian Association of Social Work Grant
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2013 00:17
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160799 Social Work not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939901 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education @ 30%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940102 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare @ 30%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930599 Education and Training Systems not elsewhere classified @ 40%
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