At the 2014 IAASW congress in Melbourne Australia, a group of enthusiastic participants from across the globe began a conversation to build a Social Workers Without Borders (SWWB) network.
The conversation followed a feasibility study commissioned the previous year by Linda Briskman (then at Swinburne University of Technology) and Jenny Martin (RMIT University). Encouraged by achievements of ‘without borders’ groups in other fields, it was decided to pursue a social work network that fostered global thinking and action.
The expanding network now includes social workers and social work students from countries in the ‘global north’ and ‘global south’ including: Canada, Jordan, Australia, Iran, UK, India, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United States.
In 2015, an inaugural SWWB roundtable was organized by Carolyn Noble and Sharon Moore, social work academics at ACAP in Sydney Australia. Publication in Social Dialogue of a number of Sydney papers followed; others were sourced from social workers in other countries: See papers at http://social-dialogue.com/SDpdf/VOL.11.pdf
The network further developed its global reach at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in Seoul in July 2016. The next global gathering will be in Dublin in 2018.
The heart of SWWB is enshrined in the following principles for a persuasive global voice:
Activism and advocacy
Resisting colonialism in social work and social development
Tenets of human rights, human dignity and social justice
Local solutions by local people
Facilitative and reflective
Proposing alternative practices
Challenging neo-conservative politics and hegemony of the current political milieu
Community development and critical social work focus
A collection and dissemination point for ‘without borders’ activities and publications
The network builds from the ground up and we seek ideas from across the globe to help foster future developments. We aim to grow in ways that network members suggest and according to our capacity. We see SWWB as also fostering partnerships between academics and practitioners, creating a nexus between ‘academic freedom’ and practitioner experience.