Australian Social Workers Must Uphold Ethics and Values

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Social work exists inextricably within the presence of ethics and values. Human rights and other values central to social work call for highly idealistic praxis, defining contemporary best practice. Yet, social workers operating in Australian health face dilemmas of meeting at times, untenable ideals within the constraints of exceedingly regulated organisations. Policies, past and present, impact practice and often undermine the principles contingent to social work (Ife, 2008,pp.8). Regardless, social workers are compelled to uphold the ethics and values of their profession. Balance must be struck between competing factors, a task that is not entirely achievable in certain contexts (Dominelli, 2012). In this assignment, review of rural health and the level of autonomy it affords professionals will take place. Emphasis will be given to the controversial area of indigenous health. I aim to demonstrate that the reality of social work practice in Australian health is vastly different from the moral platform from which it is envisioned, whilst also acknowledging that this platform is indispensible to the integrity of contemporary practice in difficult circumstances. The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) Code of Ethics (2010) proposes three core values of Social Work, respect for persons, social justice and professional integrity (pp.12). These core values establish “ethical responsibilities” for the social worker (AASW, 2010, pp.12), specifically, the value of respect for persons, which sustains the intrinsic worth of all human beings as well as the right to wellbeing and self determination consistent with others in society (AASW, 2010,p.12). This Code of Ethics stipulates the duty of care a social worker must provide, a... ... middle of paper ... ...atly, was undoubtedly ruined by the diet and stress she experienced as a result of forcible removal by welfare workers not dissimilar to myself. Yet, this inescapable dilemma only reinforces my striving to achieve the ideals demonstrated by my profession. These ethics, complex and often at conflict with the reality of welfare are the light that guides my professional practice through the perils of historic white shame. In summary, Indigenous health and the role of social workers in the rural environment are not without their complexities. As demonstrated, obvious issues of autonomy and conflicts of core professional values with the practical delivery of social health policy exist. Whilst the modern social worker faces ethical dilemmas daily, it is the core values and ethics of the profession that help those hindered by complexities to operate within best practice.

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