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International Social Work

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The concept of social work in the modern world has attained significant stature and its application in the culturally diverse societies is often stressed. Its relevance in the research area of disaster management is also worth mentioning. In the new era of globalization, the benevolence of the people to contribute to social good of the fellow beings in frustrating situations is to be appreciated.

The relevance of social work and social activities has been recognized at international level and organizations such as the United Nations emphasize the need for the involvement of the various charitable societies and organizations across the world for socially useful causes. Addressing the needs for social activities at international level, various organizations and charitable societies have played their vital role in the recent crisis situations concerning the Tsunami.

It is of foremost significance to have a profound analysis of the various factors contributing to the overwhelming worldwide response to the crisis situation of Tsunami. The paper focuses on the critical discussion of various responses by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) and International Social Work Organizations to meet the needs of the hour. Relying on the applicable theories of globalization and social work, this paper concludes on the lessons taught by this natural calamity relating to the international social work.

Tsunami: The Disaster of the Millennium

In less than 3 minutes the room filled up with water and the unbroken waves were roaring inside the room smashing everything that was inside the room (A statement of Tsunami Victim,

The AASW and other International Social Work Organizations provided all possible aid to the sufferers after the disaster ‘Tsunami’ of December 26th, 2004. It has mainly focused on the physical needs in terms of food, water, shelter and medical relief. This natural disaster took away thousands of lives and made the survivors homeless.

Many lost their dear ones, especially children. They were desperately in need of emotional support and necessary support for developing their family again after this catastrophe. A primary assessment of these relief activities confirms the value of social work in the framework of the world with the theories of globalization.

Families and Survivors of Tsunami Project (FAST) is initiated by International Federation of Social Workers Asia Pacific and supported by international organizations as a professional response to the crisis. (FAST)

The professional assessment of Social work and its strategy are indisputably goes beyond just physical relief efforts. They render their services to the survivors/sufferers for a longer term perspective to fulfil human and social needs for community/cultural bonding. Social workers’ relief efforts are generally concentrated in the social and emotional rehabilitation. Thus social workers help in alleviating grievances of the people. The FAST project succeeded in capacity building and development of the Tsunami survivors, including society rebuilding.

In such difficult situations the very notion of social work has its own significance. International Social Work draws together the practice of wisdom emerging within the broad scope of international social work practice. “(Pawar., and Cox 2008). Nowadays people consider social work as an international profession and many job opportunities have emerged due to the new concept. Though social work has a history associated with the origin of mankind, it was recognized now due to the extensive researches and analysis carried out by man through ages on the social work towards many international issues.

The relief and rehabilitation efforts taken by many International Social Work Organizations like AASW, IFSW and HRW are well appreciated by the whole world. In Indonesia, where the tsunami hit hardest, AusAID worked with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide substantial emergency relief (Source: Australia’s Emergency Response to the Tsunami Magazine article by Alan March; UN Chronicle, Vol. 42, June-August 2005). They became a role model of every charitable society by showing their memorable and historic efforts in the process of systematic of rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of Tsunami disaster.

AASW: Working for a Noble Cause

The constitution of AASW, the national professional representative body of social workers in Australia, has recently been amended this year and on-going through the latest constitution. It has seen society established in 1946 and started working for the welfare cause since 1989.

As a member of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), the Company recognises that social work originates variously from humanitarian, religious and democratic ideals and philosophies, and that it has universal application to the meeting of human needs arising from personal-societal interactions, and to the developing of human potential (Source: Relationship with the International Federation of Social Workers AASW Constitution 2008,

The AASW affirms that their professional social workers, in association with IFSW members offer services to the socially, physically, economically very poor society for their welfare and self-fulfilment. Officering their best, they mostly achieved the purpose of functioning by developing a disciplined and scientific strategy for the welfare and improvement of the living quality of people.

The AASW engaged in the building up of resources meant for various levels of targets whether it is individual, national or international needs. All of this reveals that the concept of social work has attained a global perspective. The global dimension of social work has given it a new life and attraction. Alleviating current social burden to unfold the full potential of communities is the guiding spirit of Social Relief International (Welcome to Social Relief International 2006).

Social work in modern times has become a profession which is sought after. The professional touch given to social work has caused the disfiguration of the very concept of social work for the benefit of society and human beings. The essay tries to make an analysis of the very concept of international social work and how it has helped in removing the severity of many a social calamity and disaster, and its relevance at the context.

The proper understanding of dimensions of international social work will enable the people to get a broad idea of the different and varied aspects of social work. These different dimensions of international social work have their matchless relevance in the modern society. These dimensions are namely economic dimensions, social dimensions and the environmental dimensions. Issues, strategies, and programs related to international social work draws together the practice wisdom emerging within the broad scope of international social work practice. (Pawar. and Cox 2008).

Using a broader perspectives approach, that involves scientific, economic, environmental and social development methods, authors David Cox and Manohar Pawar stressed the community to actively counter the global challenges that is often critical to life. This is the time to respond to modern global challenges which causes disaster to the well-being of people, communities and all the nations in the world. For responding to the natural calamity, the modern people have to adopt a broad outlook, which includes universal, human rights, environmental, and social development perspectives.

At this juncture, social workers need join their hands together for getting the crisis removed from the society whatever be the problem. But the measures that have been taken will not suffice the required level. There are few examples which prove it. The Human race has overcome so many challenges over the years that nothing seems impossible! However, Social Relief International believes that we have not even achieved one tenth of what is possible when it comes to creating socially acceptable living condition for all (Welcome to Social Relief International 2006).

The above cited quote has been taken based on the ongoing process of relief and rehabilitation works in Africa which is the greatest example of how confused governance joined with poor. These new programmes have to be put into practice and strategies have to be found in this regard. There should be a change in the approach of the people to the social relief programmes. Social relief international approach should be based on three main ideas.

Children must become the centre of any programme that aims to relive poverty, communities should have the access to resources within themselves to overcome social challenges and the research and policy analysis has to be the complete part of every social programme.” (Welcome to Social Relief International 2006). The new dimensions of international social work make it possible in the vast practicability of these measures.

The new approach gives more practical sense to the novel ideas of international social work. The international social work makes it possible for the whole world to come into contact with each other and also there is unanimity and the feeling of oneness in the entire realm.

Globalization: Its impact on Social Work

There are many definitions for the term globalization. It is the integration of economic, political, and cultural systems across the globe. Globalization is a force for economic growth, prosperity, and democratic freedom, (Welcome to a student’s guide to globalization). Anyhow globalization is the process of becoming the global village and it has some theoretical perspective. Due to the globalization the world economy has been configured and unleashed to have a free and fair business across the world. This results in a drastic change in socio-economic conditions of the people.

The makeover of home and households in transnationalism is also among one of these multidisciplinary perspectives. Globalization as a process has many merits and demerits. It helps in the integration of the whole world to one to an extent. There are a few theories which question the utility of the very concept of globalization. Many debates have been made to substantiate the point that the globalisation is useful to all the nations up to an extent.

Economic globalization can been viewed by utilizing two theoretical perspectives, herein described as free-market capitalism and world systems (Globalization: Two Sides of the Debate). Both these have their own positive as well as adverse impacts. These two perspectives are most often utilized for debate in many social forums.

The ‘world systems’ perspective offers the greatest explanatory power in its approach to and explanation of the underlying logic and dynamics of economic globalization as well as the potential consequences of such a phenomenon (Globalization: Two Sides of the Debate). Globalization affects a range of social issues such as poverty, immigration, women’s social position, health, and development. The importance is to be given to whether it is affecting these social issues positively or adversely.

Globalization and poverty are interrelated as globalization has helped in removing or reducing the rate of poverty in many developing countries. It has enhanced the rate of immigration from poorer countries to develop or developing countries. Globalization has helped in removing many of the social problems of women. It has also helped in the improvement of the health of the people. Due to the globalization factor, there is a scope of vast developments in every field as well as every parts of the world. The help rendered by globalization in removing the poverty has great impacts upon the society.

It could remove the level of poverty by creating more and more employment opportunities. Comparing the nations across the world through the past 20 years, countries like China, India and some of the nation’s belonging to East Asia have gone through with the fast growth in their economic conditions and remarkable decline in the poverty rate. Situations in other countries were a little different. The scenario of Latin America remained idle.

The economic developments of the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa seem to be brought to an end and even regressed. But it is to be analysed what is the ultimate repercussion of globalization. The neoliberal argument says that world poverty and income inequality fell over the past two decades for the first time in more than a century and a half, thanks to the rising density of economic integration across national borders. (Hunter 2004).

Globalization and migration represent two of the most dynamic global socio-political trends of our present time. While both have their own driving dynamic, they are highly interrelated.

Globalization has an ambivalent and somehow contradictory influence on the current migratory flows. (Papantoniou., Peschke,. And Moritz 2004). It means that globalization opened different kind of prospects, situations and conditions as per the choices of people that increase the anxiety for a better place of comforts and intensify the thought of migration. Globalization resulted in mixed kind of direct or indirect consequences that includes breaking down of national economies, acute poverty, developing economic disparities, conflicts and wars, revival of tribal, ethnic, and religious fundamentalism, declining of traditional industry, environmental degradation, which might pave way towards migration anticipated as a survival strategy.

Based on an analysis of around 150 million people, it was found that they migrated outside their countries of origin and have been forced into exile due to their economic constrains. Studies show that the condition of women becomes more and more deplorable due to the impact of globalization. Apart from these there are a few beneficial changes that have taken place due to globalization; this may include various rights for the protection of women from all kinds of threats.

Globalization has helped in improving the health conditions of people all over the world. The access to medical care and treatment could save many lives and this shows that people have an improved level of health in the times of globalization. All these conditions helped in the improvement and development of the world. The improvements in every field helped to create a lot of development in the condition of the entire world and its people.

Peoples’ Welfare: In Paper & In fields

The translation of International human rights is to be made possible at the local level; efforts have to be taken to bring about these radical changes. There are authenticated sources which tell that the efforts were not so relevant. Successes and limitations of these efforts to translate macro/international human rights norms into concrete local policy initiatives and in so doing, argue for a gendered and radicalized critique of human rights. That is attentive to the creative and often unexpected uses of macro-political tools for local political ends. (A Policy for Redressing Gender and Racialized Inequalities? The Substance and Politics of Rights Ordinances in the United States).

There is also another drawback about the international treaties of human rights that it is too remote from the realities of people and their lives. International human rights treaties often claim that timely efforts are taken for changing people’s poverty and deteriorating condition into stable and developing one. But in practical fields it never happens and for that the international treated are always criticized for turning their face around from the realities of people’s living conditions. Indeed, scholars have gone as far as to argue that international law itself is unlikely to advance human dignity because human rights treaties are flawed as a matter of substance and process (McGinnis, 2003:137 A Policy for Redressing Gender and Racialized Inequalities? The Substance and Politics of Rights Ordinances in the United States).

The potential for new technologies and telecommunications for enhancing information exchange and social justice activism is getting improved in the era of globalization. The technology savvy world develops modern and innovative communication models with a view to create opportunities for the people to speak about the better experiences and social concerns. Such basic social problems as inequality, poverty, and discrimination pose a constant challenge to policies that serve the health and income needs of children, families, people with disabilities, and the elderly (Anderson. and Herr 2007).

There are places or nations where we can see the process of significant changes both in personal values and civil life. New technologies in every field have helped to make faster telecommunication facilities for enhanced and speedy information exchange. Sometimes modern trends such as globalization of business and consumer values, fast growing and developing communication media and its personalization, and the economic rearrangement of business into e-commerce and other information-oriented economies are often treated as bane, but it has a positive aspect too.

Because of the above changes of modernization the whole world could provide helping hands wherever it need within little timeframe, whether it may be monetary forms of help or information based or even manpower related. Yet there are many signs – from the WTO experience in Seattle to the rise of global activism aimed at making biotechnology accountable – that new forms of citizenship, politics, and public engagement are emerging (Anderson, and Herr 2007).

International Social Workers: The Role in Rehabilitation of Needed Community

The position of international social work in the modern times is very stable and effective too. New and more vistas are opened in the field. The nature of work has fully changed over the years. Social workers among teenagers is getting vide vitality and is becoming popular. In the New Arenas for Community Social Work Practice with Urban Youth, Melvin Delgado contends that social services with teenagers need to be re-conceptualized (Chow 2001).

As an initial process, according to him, the young people should be trained in the way that it would benefit the development and growth of nations by extracting maximum potential from them. Continuing the topic Delgado insists to adopt the approach of developing energetic and hardworking community for the development and economic nourishment of the country. Analysing various case studies regarding humanities, arts, sports and human psychology the author advises the society to adopt the successful intervention strategies of community social work practice.

The Asian Tsunami Disaster received unprecedented global publicity resulting in an outpouring of financial assistance from governments, the general community and private donors, and international bodies. The AASW and the International Federation of Social Workers Asia Pacific responded to this crisis in a very helpful manner by giving such assistance to the victims and to those who directly or indirectly suffered the aftermath.

The International Social service organization FAST prescribed a working perspective in their constitution and that is Social work seeks to enhance community expertise and empowerment in the decision making process through all stages of planning, intervention and recovery. Strengths and resilience of the local community is acknowledged. International assistance is essentially collaborative with national/local partners in a consultancy role and in training/support/ research and evaluation (Source FAST

By using the knowledge and value based skills social workers can intervene in the people at the levels of individual, group and family, community and their policy. These intervention/consultation is guided by certain disaster management principles, values and code of ethics . The tasks, issues and priorities mentioned in FAST constitution are as under:-

Assessment of social emotional impact and needs.

Planning short term interventions re grief, loss, trauma reactions.

Working alongside agencies providing medium term interventions for communities and within temporary shelters to develop temporary communities.

Helping manage the grieving process; providing info; assessing vulnerable people and referring for intervention/treatment.

Therapeutic work, support and placement of orphaned/unattached children, adolescents and the widowed.

People with physical disabilities or mental/intellectual disabilities.

Assisting in education, research and evaluation, as well as documenting the event and process.

(Source FAST)

No country stood alone from the aftermath of the disaster. Every country either directly or indirectly had to suffer the repercussions of this crisis. Tsunami was the result of a catastrophic earthquake at a magnitude of 9.0 in rector scale, which shook the Indian Ocean and formed very high tidal waves. The world has become a dumb witness of this deadliest natural disaster which happened in modern the era.

These deadly tidal waves devastated coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Southern India, Thailand, and other nations, taking lives of around 228,000 to 310,000 due to casualties and other sorts of loss to the properties of nations. Meanwhile, the international aid provided all sort of relief and rescue, and rehabilitation services for the affected areas, that could covered around 3 billion USD (about 2.3 billion euros) from across the world. Past experience shows that rebuilding takes years of momentous effort. For instance, in Hokkaido, Japan, it took over five years to completely recover from a 1993 earthquake-triggered tsunami (

There was global support against the disaster; help from different parts of the countries flew to the affected countries. Every nation joined their hands to fight against the disaster as well as to console the victims. With the outpouring of support from the global community, the recent tsunami disaster has highlighted a number of factors regarding the coordination and delivery of international aid. (Fertig, Foster, and Nicholas 2005). While providing the aids to the sufferers these organizations had sustained a number of bitter experiences and setbacks at the beginning stage.

Some of the difficulties the organizations had to face during the time of aid operations for the victims were that of financing such missions, providing the required type and amount of supplies, and bringing aid to affected populations while dealing with home and foreign governments. The AASW and the international social organizations rendered a significance services to tsunami victims. AASW and International Social Work Organizations, the renowned organizations for social services, bestowed a sort of social, economic, psychological solace upon the victims that rejuvenated them both physically as well as mentally in alleviating the sorrow of the tsunami affected people of different regions.

These organisations help for the removal of poverty from grass root level. IFSW is an international body for social work, representing half a million professional social workers around the globe ( The rehabilitation services rendered by these humanistic organizations, irrespective of their basis objectives and aims, were actually the need of the hour. The assistance provided by them cannot be belittled. The social workers from these organizations tried their hardest to reduce the grievances of the tsunami affected people and to rebuild their socio-cultural status.

Tsunami: Rescue and Rehabilitation

The Asian Tsunami Disaster received unprecedented global publicity resulting in an outpouring of financial assistance from governments, the general community and private donors, and international bodies. The AASW and the International Federation of Social Workers Asia Pacific are responded to that crisis. No other rescue and relief operations have ever received as much publicity as the Tsunami rehabilitation efforts.

As social work has become a profession it will certainly have possibilities for some drawbacks in the near future. Many organizations have now emerged as social organizations to render help for the needy and for the disaster affected people. Now, social work and social workers become part and parcel of a wider acknowledged profession. It has been included in the curriculum of many countries.

In a review of 20 years quantitative research and analysis into the psychological effects of disasters, Norris (2002) concluded that of the 50,000 people who had experienced 80 different disasters (62 per cent of which were natural disasters) and found the magnitude of individual effects like 74 per cent suffered from psychological problems, 65 per cent had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), 37 per cent got depression or major depressive disorder and 19 per cent went through with anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (Source Magnitude of Individual Effects) ).

Keeping in mind the facts mentioned above, the training of social workers should be planned accordingly incorporating human psychology and process of treatment for these kind of mental traumas. International social work has the following key features which distinguish it from any other profession. The study of International Social Work includes the main issues like natural calamities, disasters, major accidents, and its rescue/rehabilitation related strategies and programmes to be implemented at the right time in the right place of affected people.

Adopting these practices develops the broad scope of international social work services. As this essay has already narrated, the suggestion of authors David Cox and Manohar Pawar, regarding the ways of responding against the critical situations by all means available in this world.


The essay provides a positive approach with incorporating therein the overall perspectives and scope of international social work and social development practice to the world. One cannot expect a genuine social worker organization or other determined charitable societies to deceive peoples in the name of relief and rescue services. Thus the efforts made by Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) and International Social Work Organizations for the rescue and rehabilitation of Tsunami affected people solely justified. Only because of these services the sufferers made themselves rehabilitated and returned to their normal life. So the services got deserved recognition and applause.

Ethically speaking to have a mind for social services is a generous initiative that everyone does not possess. The young generation can be provided with appropriate teaching, practicing, developing subject requirements and processes and thereby the world could create a best quality people with generous thinking and deed.

To propagate these values one need to have implement the process of international social work practice for students and practitioners at all levels. International Social Work is an ideal text for undergraduate and graduate courses in Social Work and Development Studies as well as an excellent resource for social workers, human services professionals, and development practitioners (20060718 Pawar. and Cox 2008).

So the international social work organizations today become one of the inevitable social organizations for a noble cause. They help the entire world by rendering purposeful social services for the sake of humanity. Social workers have to be appreciated and applauded for their dedication and their sacrifices in the matters related to work.

Works cited

A statement of Tsunami Victim.


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BROWNE, Colette V., and BRAUN, Kathryn L. (2008). Globalization,Women’s Migration, and the Long-Term-Care Workforce. The Gerontologist. Last accessed 25 August 2008 at:

A Policy for Redressing Gender and Racialized Inequalities? The Substance and Politics of Rights Ordinances in the United States. [online]. allacademic. Last accessed 25 August 2008 at:

ANDERSON, Gary L., and HERR, Kathryn. (2007). Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. SAGE. Last accessed 25 August 2008 at:

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FERTIG, Ben., Foster, Tanya., and Nicholas, Irene. (2005). Tsunamis and the International Response: Economic, Social and Environmental Dimensions. ProQuest. Last accessed 25 August 200


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