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Jim Poulter Author of Books on Aboriginal Culture and Child Protection
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Exploring the Systematic Relationship of Social Work Values

Presented at the AASW Victorian Branch Ethics Forum, May 2011, Parkville, Melbourne.


The paper initially explores the false differentiation between fact and value often made by empirical science and the traditional reluctance of social work to see values as a form of theory. The implicit or embedded relationship between the various social work values is explored and modeled. Equal worth is consequently identified as the foundational value of social work, with both social justice and individual justice being operational values with the function of protecting or redressing any imputation against an individual’s status of equal worth. Ultimately, collaboration is identified as the prime instrumental value of the social work professional, and around which all other values cohere. Meta-analysis research over recent decades into ‘what works’ with both voluntary and involuntary clients is then reviewed, providing conclusive proof that collaboration is the key to effective outcomes with clients.


This paper is contained as paper four within the brief text ‘Reflective Value Based Ethics in Social Work’. This paper was in turn drawn from Chapter Eleven of my more comprehensive text ‘An Integrated Theory of Practice in Social Work’. Both texts are available for purchase.

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