Transcending racism in asylum politics: Quest for social workers

Macmillan Education UK
Publication Type:
Anti-Racist Social Work: International Perspectives, 2020, 1
Issue Date:
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Anti-Racist_Soc_Wk_Front-matter.pdfSupporting information190.64 kB
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Fiske_Briskman_2020_Transcending-racism.pdfPublished version2.03 MB
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Social workers frequently encounter newly arrived people in Australia. Whether working at individual, group or community levels, the profession is engaged with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from a breadth of countries and ethnicities. This occurs whether they are employed in mainstream or specialist organisations. During their social work education, students are presented with theoretical constructs that advance their knowledge base to equip them to work in diverse and changing situations. An increasing number of people who are themselves migrants, are employed in social work positions, which facilitates communication, cultural understandings and overcomes language barriers. A range of theoretical perspectives converge for social workers in the education process including anti-racism, social constructions of whiteness, anti-colonialism and human rights. However, the transition from classroom to organisation is not always smooth, as the dominance of Anglo-centric western perspectives may impact on practice. This chapter outlines the complexities and contradictions for social workers in one of the most debated areas of social policy in Australia, that of asylum seekers, particularly those from Muslim backgrounds. We examine how competing discourses, policies and practices may disrupt the anti-racist tenets of social work, and what can be done to restore them.
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