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Contemporary Issues on Social Work

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The effect of globalization has resulted in complex economic and social networking among people of the world. One of the main elements of globalization is the movement of people from one area to another area for various reasons. In most cases, people move to more industrialized and peaceful countries in search of better opportunities and safe environments. The 21st century has seen the increased migration of citizens of one state to another, a period termed as the age of Diasporas (Helman, 2007). The research will focus on immigrants, mainly asylum seekers and refugees with particular emphasis on the 72 asylum seekers from Lebanon who perished off the coast of Indonesia while heading to Australia. The research will address the plight of asylum seekers as one the most vulnerable populations.

Migration to another country may be voluntary or voluntary. The involuntary migrants include asylum seekers, refugees, returnees ad internally displaced persons (IDPs). The primary cause of this category of people changing their location could be political upheavals, wars, natural disasters and poor states of the economy. The voluntary migrants migrate to other countries in search of employment and new ventures for personal growth. However, the involuntary migrants have multiple psychological, physical and social vulnerabilities due to their experience with violence and oppression. These vulnerable populations are very sensitive to risk factors. They are therefore more likely to develop health problems to their exposure to risk.

An increase in the number of Asylum Seekers calls for the allocation of more resources to support their wellbeing and this will straight the available scarce resources. While competing for these resources with the residents of the host country, the asylum seekers are likely to face discrimination and isolation by the community. Also, the way of life of the asylum seekers is likely to vary with that of the host society, and this will cause more antagonism between the two groups. The presence of health care and social work professionals to help the migrants can have a positive impact on how they manage the transition to a new society (Pacquiao, 2008). The need for better healthcare is one of the reasons for migrating to the new country, and the intervention of the health care professionals will help them adapt to their new environment.

The US, Canada, and Australia top the list of countries with the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers. As at 2006, there were 773 500 asylum seekers who sought sanctuary in another country. They were required to apply for asylum so that they could be granted the right to live as bona fide refugees, receiving protection and resources from the government. An estimated 7.1 Internationally Displaced Persons who are displaced by violence and political instability in their country. There are also 2.3 million stateless persons who need protection and assistance within the country that hosts them (Pacquiao, 2008).

The increase in the number of involuntary migrants has called the health professionals to enter into an ethical, moral obligation and serve the worldwide community. In this case, these professionals are required to have some world citizenship skills that would help them to function in a global community setting. One of these skills the ability to critically analyze one’s culture and personal beliefs. The skills will assist in determining the reasonable support needed for such beliefs. The other skill is the capacity to view the equality of humanity from a personal point of view. The skills will enable them to develop a genuine concern and commitment to the interests of all people. The last skill is the ability to see the world from a point of view of the other. Understanding what the other person feels forms the basis for having a desire to help (Crigger et al., 2006).

Activities of social activism are believed to have started in the 19th century in United States of America and England. At the end of feudalism era, the people began viewing the poor as a direct threat to the social order. The Poor Law is an example of such measures that were taken to address the problem of the poor. The poor law segregated the poor people in society into different categories depending on how poor they were. The groups included the able-bodied poor, idle poor and the significant needy (Kendall, 2007).
During the period of Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, there were significant technological and scientific advancements. During this time, rural to urban migration increased and this increased social problems. The social issues called for a rise in social activism to tackle the social issues. The period also saw an increase in missionary activities whose efforts attempted to solve the problems prevalent in the cities such as prostitution, disease, poverty and other social issues. The ‘friendly visitors’ from US also worked alongside the church and other charitable organizations to tackle the social problems.

The US Settlement House movement is also considered to be one of the earliest influences on social work activities. The movement was started by Jane Adams in the 19th century who aim was to find appropriate was to assist women involved in prostitution. Another settlement movement commenced in the 1880s, and its objective was to find the causes of poverty through, reform, residence and research. They also provided an array of other services including legal, health services, counseling, and educational facilities. These groups called for changes in the social policy so that they can serve the community better (Kendall, 2007).

A debate in the early 20th century on how social work should be regarded gave different views. There were divergent views on whether social work should be classified as a profession. The debate was between Jane Adams’ Settlement House Movement and Mary Richmond’s Charity Organization Society. Mary Richmond’s approach was from a traditional and scientific view of efficiency and prevention while Jane Adam’s approach was that of immersing into the problem and blurring the gap between the client and health professional. In 1915, Dr. Abraham Flexner addressed the National Conference of Charities and Corrections on Is Social Work a Profession? He argued that social work lacked specific knowledge and application of intellectual knowledge to solve social problems and was therefore not a profession (Leadbetter 2008). The address motivated the professionalization of social work to become a job like any other studied in a classroom setting.

For more than a century now, social work as a profession has grown and adapted to address the needs of the diverse population. Social work now requires specialized education and training based on early theories on social work. The values, ethics and practices of social work have been ratified to form the backbone of a delineated profession. A culture of social work has also emerged from a synthesis of the various roles played by asylums, rescue societies, charity workers as well as settlement houses.

Social workers have had a positive influence on the lives of many people in the world today. The social workers start by helping families. They work by exercising their ethics and values when engaging a client who is in need of help. They assess the support needed by a customer and then devise ways of intervening without causing further complications. Once the intervention has taken place, the social worker can monitor and assist in the best way possible to ensure the individual gets the proper assistance that will better their position. The intervention may involve linking the person to their families or to resources within the community that match the person’s needs (Smith & Lamb, 2007).

Due to dealing with people from diverse nationalities, social workers need to have the abilities to solve complex problems of asylum seekers and other migrants. While assessing the client, they need to examine the customer for anxiety, mental illnesses, depression and immigration history. They should also understand the culture support systems within the customer’s culture to facilitate a network of support for the customer. A social worker should ensure the customer can access healthcare services in a cultural acceptable way (Carlsten, 2007)

The social workers also need to have experience in assisting vulnerable populations locally and abroad. They can get exposure from advocacy groups and organizations including churches, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and the UN among other groups that handle refugees and asylum seekers. Getting awareness nationally and globally will help in promoting access to more comprehensive services (Pacquiao, 2008). Also, building collaborative partnerships with communities and international organizations is essential in dealing with vulnerable people since they have multiple complex needs. The connections will also allow sharing of services and best practices of social work in global contexts.

The film ‘Trading Misery’ airs a story of asylum seekers who are running away from Lebanon to Australia, which is considered a haven. However, Australia’s hardline policy on asylum seekers has made it impossible for them to access the country. Instead, they have to buy their way in using fake passports and visas that are masterminded by a criminal gang. The asylum seekers are running from Lebanon, which is a war-torn country and the war in Syria has spread into Lebanon. The boat they traveled in was not sea-worthy, and it was not big enough to accommodate all the 72 asylum seekers (Ferguson et al., 2013). When an accident happened in the sea, most of the passengers drowned, and only a few of them swum to the shore. The victims and families of those who perished are still traumatized by the incident. Some of the survivors have fresh memories of what transpired inside the sea.

In the Indonesia Sea tragedy, there are different categories of vulnerable population. They include the asylum seekers, survivors of the disaster and the relatives of those who perished. The asylum seekers are people running away from the war in Lebanon to Australia with the hope that they will be accepted and given a refugee status. The Australian government provides the refugees protection and assistance. In the film, there are asylum seekers who were successful to enter Australia while others have not been successful. The hardline Australian policy on asylum seekers has forced the asylum seekers to bribe their way using the people smugglers.

The survivors of the sea tragedy is another group of vulnerable people who need the assistance of health professionals. When the tragedy occurred, some were able to swim their way to the shores under the strong sea waves. Some were successful while others were washed away by the waves. One of the survivors narrates how he saw bodies of children floating on the water while he was trying to rescue them. No help from the authorities was forthcoming despite them alarming the Australian authorities of the tragedy. Also, they had spent more than three days in the sea without water and food. The survivors are need of counseling and first aid from social workers.

The film also shows how the families of those who perished are coping with the incident. They were aware of their journey, and their relatives convinced them that they would get to Australia safely. However, the sea tragedy caught them by surprise, and some of them lost people who are very close to them. These include husbands, wives, sons and daughters who had high hopes of getting to Australia where they could find peace. The relatives of those who perished are in need of counseling services so that they stop living in denial.

As a health professional, I have been trained to offer counseling services to vulnerable populations including asylum seekers, refugees, and survivors. I would like to work with these groups of vulnerable populations especially the survivors and families of the asylum seekers who perished in the sea. I would offer them first aid and counseling services to help them move forward with life and not live in denial. However, some of the survivors are Arabic, and they can only talk in their language. I would need the services of a translator as I learn the language of the vulnerable populations since it will entail offering counseling service that is a personal service.
In conclusion, social work as a profession has grown over the years. Globalization has also resulted in new classes of social problems that have called the social workers to be proactive in serving the vulnerable populations. There is a need for social workers to collaborate with health professionals around the globe to get exposure on how to handle new social problems. The exposure will enable them to solve complex issues in a global context such as the one involving the 72 asylum seekers involved in a sea accident off the Indonesian coast.

References list
Carlsten, C., 2007. Refugee and Immigrant Heath Care. pp. 23-30.
Crigger, N., Brannigan, M. & Baird, M., 2006. Compassionte nursing professionals as good professionals of the world. Advances in Nursing Science , Volume Vol 29, pp. 12-23.
Ferguson, S., Hussein, N. & Clay, H., 2013. Trading Misery. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 02 June 2015].
Helman, C., 2007. Culture, Health and Illnes. In: New York: Oxford University Press.
Kendall, K. A., 2007. Social Work Education; Its Origin in Europe. Council of Social Work Education.
Leadbetter , M., 2008. Empowerment and Advocacy. In: Social Work: Themes Issues and Critical Debates . Basingstoke: Houndsmills Publishers.
Pacquiao, D., 2008. Nursing Care of Vulnerable Populations Using a Framework of Cultural Competence, Social Justice and Human Rights. Contemporary Nurse, pp. 2-10.
Smith , M. & Lamb, C., 2007. Problems Refugees Face When Accessing Health Services. NSW Public Health Bulletin 13, pp. 161-163.…...

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