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The vital role of social work highlighted in wake of devastating Australian fires

A message from the International Federation of Social Workers and the Australian Association of Social Workers

Australia, bushfire, social work, international federation of social workers, australian association of social workers
Climate change has been blamed for the fires in Australia

Published by Professional Social Work magazine - 7 January, 2020

Social work’s role advocating for “climate justice” was underlined by the International Federation of Social Workers in wake of the devastating bushfires sweeping across Australia.

The IFSW added social workers were playing a key part in providing emergency social services to support communities during the crisis and its aftermath.

At least 25 people and thousands of animals have died and nearly 2,000 homes have been left destroyed in unprecedented fires engulfing South-eastern Australia since last September. Climate change resulting in hotter and drier weather has been blamed for creating the conditions for such disasters.

In a joint statement IFSW global president Silvana Martinez and secretary-general Rory Truell said: “The fires in Australia as well as in many other places in the world highlight everyone’s combined challenge.

“Globally we know what to do and have the capability but our current political systems cannot utilise this capacity.

“Social work, which is based in nearly all communities worldwide, is one of the many ground-up voices advocating for a fair, just and sustainable world.”

They added “community solidarity and action” could create political change and advance “human, social and ecological rights”.

The Australian Association of Social Workers encouraged people to “reach out and look after themselves and each other” during the national crisis.

It also warned of the increased risk of such emergencies in the future. “Climate change is real and the increase in extreme weather events will continue to have devastating consequences,” said the AASW.

“We need real political leadership on the issue and immediate climate action to assure the safety of individuals, groups and communities.”

This article is published by Professional Social work magazine which provides a platform for a range of perspectives across the social work sector. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the British Association of Social Workers.