As social workers, we operate in a society characterized by power imbalances that affect us all. These power imbalances are based on age, class, ethnicity, gender identity, geographic location, health, ability, race, sexual identity and income. We see personal troubles as inextricably linked to oppressive structures. We believe social workers must be actively involved in the understanding and transformation of injustices in social institutions, and in the struggles of people to maximize control over their own lives.
Social work has always been concerned with the intersection of private troubles and public issues and is committed to the enhancement of social justice. We aim to prepare students for practice in a wide variety of social and community services and critical reflection on their activities as both professionals and citizens. Through our research and community engagements, we address some of the tensions in contemporary social programs and, in the context of a changing world, strive to understand and challenge various forms and dynamics of social inequality. Our areas of focus include:
Struggles for Social Justice
Injustice is embedded in society. It includes the dismissal of, and violence against, Indigenous people, disabled people, people labelled ‘mad’, racialized people, women, people who are queer and people who are old. Social workers strive to understand, challenge and transform social injustice.
Critical Practice & Leadership
‘Critical’ social work practice and leadership recognize and attempt to address the historical and social inequities that cause (or make worse) individual, family and community troubles. Critical approaches also recognize the contradictions and harms of social work and social policies.
Advocacy & Support
Social workers are actively involved in supporting people and communities to gain access and voice in decision making, in their own lives and circumstances and the public sphere.
Political & Institutional Change
Social policies and social welfare institutions significantly affect the lives and life chances of individuals and communities. Social workers study and take action to improve and transform them.