SWSP2033: Social Work Theory and Practice (Individuals, Children and Families)
Discipline of Social Work
Report on Family Issues
|Aligned Learning Outcomes
Write a report on either A or B:
1. What are the main issues facing families in Australia?
2. Select an issue and report on: How does [the issue] affect children and families in Australia?
Report on the following points:
Your report will be marked according to the following criteria:
Family is considered the most significant part of a human's life. Since the origin of early human beings, we have evidence that they lived amongst groups of people and moved along with each other (Klein & R.G, 2009). There is no wonder that even with the advancements in science, lifestyles and demand for individualistic rights; people tend to live with at least one person, thus forming a family. Australia is considered as an ethnically vibrant and diverse nation. In the World Happiness Report published by the United Nations places Australia as the twelfth happiest country of the world (Bloom, 2020). However, it is unfortunate to acknowledge that today numerous issues are facing Australian families. The analysis of the problems that Australian families are facing can be a considerable significance to the social workers as they are engaged with the people living in distress. In recent years, the number of lone-household persons has increased significantly. It is assumed that they will make up around 27% of the total Australian population by the year 2041 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019). While living alone is an independent decision, it has been observed in recent years that due to an increasing number of family issues, people are resorting to live alone (Incerti, 2015). Some of the problems faced by Australian families are; domestic and physical violence, child abuse and neglect, substance abuse and poverty (Barnardos Australia, 2020). This assignment is based on learning about the issues that Australian families face, analyse them and learn about the initiatives that can be taken up by the social workers.
Analysis of the Issues faced by the Children, Youth and Families and their Impacts
There are various kinds of family relationships; marital, intergenerational, siblings, single-parents, among others. When the family suffers from an issue, it has significant implications on the health and well-being of all the members (Thomas et al., 2017). As already mentioned above, let us learn how the issues affect the children, youth and families.
Domestic and Sexual Violence
As per the Personal Safety Survey 2016 under Australian Bureau of Statistics; is it estimated that 17% of females (1 in 6) and 6.1% of males (1 in 16) have suffered from sexual or physical abuse. It is also estimated that 3 out of 10 people were hospitalised due to acts of family violence (AIHW, 2020). According to Kashani et al. (1998), today's families not just constitute the blood relations, but also step-relatives. This can be attributed as one of the reasons for such acts of violence. The impact of such actions has adverse effects on children and adolescents. While children often remain scared, adolescents can form negative outlooks regarding family creation.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse and neglect are known to have a long-lasting effect on the brain of children. They can negatively impact the neuroendocrinological development of children which persists till adolescent (Panzer, 2008). The Australian Institute of Family Studies (2017) provides us with information that around 2.25 lakh children in Australia were either suspected to be harmed or were at risk of getting harmed. The most common type of abuse is emotional; that has a long-lasting impact on the child's mind and well-being.
Problematic Substance Use
While problematic substance use affects an individual's health and well-being, it significantly disturbs the lives of people living with the individual (Incerti, 2015). The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) reported in 2019 that around 43% of the Australian population over the age of 14 years had used some sorts of drugs in their lives (AIHW, 2020). Most of these people live in their families. If people are addicted to drugs, they can create problems for other family members. Children and adolescents may start using drugs at an early age. The smoke caused by some problematic substances also may impact the health of other family members.
As per the Analysis & Policy Observatory (2020), every 1 in 6 children and every 1 in 8 adults in lives below the poverty line. The poverty rates are considered as a shame for the country, as it is low even in comparison to New Zealand (Davidson et al., 2020). These numbers are not just alarming but raise the concerns as well. Australia is one of the wealthiest nations of the world, and still, the proportions of poverty can affect the overall progress of the country. The children living in poverty affects education, emotional and health wellness. Adolescents can resort to illegal activities to generate incomes. Overall, the families like together in distress conditions, they can suffer from the spill-over effects.
Evaluation of the Policies
Families Australia is responsible for managing the policies that are inclined towards the welfare of families in Australia. It is dedicated to working in line with the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020. Some of the policies managed by Families Australia are-
The first policy, Valuing and Protecting Children recognises that over 40,000 children in Australia suffer from abuse and neglect from their families or other institutions. This has also led to an increase in the number of children living in out-of-home-care or foster homes. The policy is working is to increase awareness among the people with the help of campaigns. The most prominent project under this policy is Child Aware Initiative. It is responsible for lay down the approaches and guidelines that are destined to ensure the safety and wellness of children. The project also organises the conferences where practitioners, policy advisors and researchers share their outlooks regarding children welfare programs and present innovative methods that contribute to the overall development of children. Various local initiatives are also organised in the communities to raise awareness amongst children and families (Valuing and Protecting Children, 2020).
Building Stronger Australian Families is a policy that serves general purposes. The policy is aimed towards providing the services to the families that face considerable challenges. Families Australia offers suggestions to the Government, which are implemented by the ways of initiatives (Building Stronger Australian Families, 2020).
The two policies discussed above are working well to reduce the impact of issues faced by Australian families. The issues in families are mostly due to behavioural problems. In such issues, awareness campaigns play a critical role (Davies, 2012). Apart from the policies, various other government agencies are established to take care of families facing critical issues. Such agencies are Centrelink, Child Support Agency and Family Court of Australia (Department of Social Service, 2020). However, it has been observed that all the policies of the Australian Government do not provide adequate financial assistance to every family who lives in poverty. There are some sections like refugees, who hardly get financial aid nor any employment opportunities from the Government. They can be subject to various issues (Ryan, 2020). It is observed that not every family facing issues needs financial assistance, but the ones living in poverty do. The Government must take measures to ensure all the sections of families living in poverty are provided with some economic assistance.
Social work is based on evidence-based practices that are important to understand human behaviour. A social worker needs to be actively involved in assessments that help them understand the essence of society as a whole and work upon to improve its conditions (Gilbert, 2019). Case management is considered of huge importance to social workers. It is an approach that allows social workers to resolve every complex problem of the clients (Vourlekis, 2017). However, the workers need to abide by some methods or frameworks that determine their practice and ensure ethical quality service. I will share a case example that will help us understand the frameworks that must be taken into consideration by social workers while dealing with the children, youth and families.
It has been three months since Olivia completed the Bachelor of Social Work from the Australian Association of Social Workers. She pledges to abide by the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS) to provide quality services to the clients. Olivia, along with five other social workers, were asked to campaign for the cause of problematic substance abuse and spread awareness in a low-population area in Sydney. The children and their parents were a part of the campaign. While campaigning, a little girl of 9 years came near her and started crying. She did not speak anything but cried for some time. Olivia was concerned about her and asked her quietly the reason behind her crying. The girl, after some time, told Olivia that she was hungry. Olivia made her eat some food. The girl then slowly said that her father and mother shout at her. Soon after, the girl's mother came and took her away.
Olivia realised the need to converse with the parents. She informed them about her work and assured that their information would remain confidential. Olivia asked the parents some basic questions about their background. She tried to learn their views about their daughter, and their responses were casual. Even after a lot of efforts, the parents did not reveal anything that the girl had informed Olivia. She then went on to discuss the reason why their girl was crying. The parents responded by saying she is an irritating kid and disturbs their work lives. They said that we both are working professionals and do not have enough time to spend with her. Olivia analysed that this was the case of child neglect. When the conversations were taken further, the parents revealed that they did not want to have a child as they give considerable preferences to their respective careers. Olivia understood the situation and asked their permission if she could spend time with their child weekly by visiting her. The parents did not have any issue as they took as an opportunity to remain free during weekends. Olivia used to visit their home every weekend and used to interact with the parents. They were made aware of the beauty of having children and how innocent their child was. It was a matter of two months, and Olivia started seeing behavioural changes of the parents.
The case example tells us that Olivia maintained professionalism while getting involved in interpersonal communication with parents. She knew about child neglect, which helped her tackle the problem. She gave importance to ethical values and remained patient for two months until she observed behavioural changes in parents. The firm stand of Olivia was to ensure justice to the little girl. She was driven by the anti-oppressive approach that recognises the oppressive practices (Clifford & Burke, 2008). Child neglect is one such practice. We see that initially, Olivia faced challenges in convincing the parents; however, she did not lose her calm. Olivia made use of a strength-based approach, as she remained resilient throughout the conversation with parents (Rashid, 2015). It is evident from the case example that Olivia stood firm while abiding by the AASW Practice Standards, which are necessary to be followed by the graduates (ASWEAS, 2020).
We have seen that the issues faced by the families in Australia can have devastating impacts on children youth and families. There are some suggestions for the Government-
There are some suggestions for social workers regarding practice-
To conclude, families play an important role in raising children, providing emotional support to one another and stand by each other during tough times. The disturbances in the family caused by the issues have direct consequences, affecting everyone. Children are prone to much higher levels of problems as they are not physically and mentally strong to understand everything. Thus, the collective attempts by the Government and AASW (with the help of social workers) must ensure positive changes in the families, by providing adequate aids and support respectively.