Coronavirus and Ruby Princess crew in Australia: a call for increased macro level social work

Francis, Abraham, and Udah, Hyacinth (2020) Coronavirus and Ruby Princess crew in Australia: a call for increased macro level social work. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, 14 (6). pp. 166-181.

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The COVID-19 crisis has not only put the world on hold but has also laid bare the inequalities and structural challenges that have always existed and persisted in our societies. The impact that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has, and will continue to have, on our lives and the social work profession cannot be overstated. Whatever the unfolding details, crisis situations can present - and expand - opportunities for social workers to make meaningful change that acknowledges and works to build a less unequal society. This article looks at the Ruby Princess incident in Australia during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. It critically analyses the way some people were treated, supported, or denied access to treatment due to citizenship, nationality, or country of origin during the pandemic. While the Ruby Princess crew members on board have a humanitarian right to be cared for in Australia, they were treated as an added problem. The ways the government responded and treated them reveal ideological tensions and operational challenges, resulting in structural barriers, inhumane treatment and vulnerability for people denied of natural justice and duty of care. COVID-19 in Australia, together with the Ruby Princess incident, has shown gaps in understanding of social workers’ role during a pandemic. The incident has significant implications from a human rights perspective in national and global policy responses to, and recovery from, pandemics. This article contributes to literature on the role of social workers during a pandemic and its aftermath, and on how social workers can bring their knowledge, theories and practice skills to pandemic preparedness and policy responses to pandemics. Drawing on media analysis and critical review of social work policy and practice responses to crises, it calls for increased macro level social work and promotion of well-being, justice and human rights. It argues that the challenges presented by COVID-19 can be opportunities for social work to reinvent itself as a human rights-based profession and promote effective practice. It suggests, therefore, that by engaging in advocacy, policy, and equity work, social workers can help address structural systems, which perpetuate inequities and barriers in society, and ensure a more ‘equal, just, and inclusive’ society during a pandemic and beyond.

Item ID: 64550
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2201-1323
Keywords: COVID-19; equity; human rights; pandemics; Ruby Princess crew members; social work
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This article is available Open Access via the publisher's website.

Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2020 21:28
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4409 Social work > 440999 Social work not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development @ 100%
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