Jim Poulter Author of Books on Aboriginal Culture and Child Protection

Reflective Value Based Ethics in Social Work


In 2010 the Australian Association of Social Workers reviewed its Code of Ethics. As a previous Chair of the Victorian Ethics Committee, I was an instrumental figure in the Victorian submissions on the first and second drafts of the new code. However the review failed to adopt key recommendations from Victoria that the equal worth of all human beings should be recognised as the foundational value of social work, while collaboration should be recognised as the prime instrumental value of the profession. On behalf the Victotian Branch Ethics Group I consequently proposed motions to the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the AASW to have these two values enshrined in the association’s constitution. The motions were unanimously adopted and now the constitution and the new Code of Ethics are in tension as to the key values of the profession.

My text on reflective value based ethics in social work contains the two Victorian submissions to the ethics review, documents the process of the review and includes two papers presented by me at the AASW Victorian Branch Ethics Forum in May 2011. The first of these forum papers analyses the social work value base to determine if there is an inherently systematic relationship between the values. As a result, collaboration is identified as the cohering central value. In the second paper I review the available research over recent decades and establishe that collaboration is an empirically proven fact, not simply an assumed value. I then identifie four collaborative modes and establish ‘collaborative theory’ as an integrative metatheory of social work practice.

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Softback (hand bound and printed on laser printer) - Available

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