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Apply Code of Ethics throughout your practice, social workers told

Social workers should absorb BASW’s revised Code of Ethics, published in January this year, and use it in all aspects of their work, professionals at a Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW – part of BASW) heard. Addressing SASW’s World Social Work Day conference in Perth, the Association’s manager Ruth Stark said:

“Do you refer to the Code of Ethics when you have supervision, do you think about it when you step over the door into a service user’s home? We should be thinking about it all the time in our work.”

Ms Stark said more thought was also needed about how to build on the vision outlined in the 1968 Social Work (Scotland) Act, legislation that set out a clear aim of securing social justice and developing community resources. Questioning whether social workers had ever secured the proper implementation of this element of the Bill – “have we ever promoted social justice enough?” – Ms Stark asked delegates to think about the role for social work in the current climate. “The vision in 1968 was that we are as important to people’s welfare as the health services – what is our vision today?”

She suggested that the International Federation of Social Workers’ (IFSW) Global Agenda for Social Development offered an important blueprint for such thinking, and urged delegates to commit themselves to further work in securing implementation of the document, which will be presented to the IFSW World Conference in Stockholm in July.

“One of the aims of the Global Agenda is to work with government, service users and communities so that social work can contribute fully to creating a more just society. I know there are people, like me, who are coming to the end of their careers, and it is a time for reflection. What have we contributed, what are we leaving for the future, what are students going to contribute over the next 30-40 years?

“These are big challenges, big timescales and we need to think about the Global Agenda as part of a wider professional agenda. So too we need to think about how you, as social workers, use people like us, your professional association – how do you have your professional voice heard among politicians and policy makers? We need to promote the role of social work and social development because it is still just as important as the medical professional, just as the 68 Bill aimed to enshrine – people’s social welfare is as important as their health welfare.”