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Critically reflective journal. You must choose at least two readings from the recommended readings contained in this unit outline and at least two sources from your own research for each session. Essay Example


Critically reflective journal


A reflective journal is a discussion of different topics that gives a person’s opinion on the matter after having gone through the subject matter then contemplating about the information (Whited & Trujillo, 2005). This is a reflective journal that describes and shows understanding of the chosen topics in the study of social work. Its main aim is to help one understand the discipline of social work, the social policy within it and also help in the understanding of theoretical framework guiding the social work profession in the delivery of human service.


Session one: The social work profession

The origin of social work is has its root to the times when society needed to deal with poverty and those people who lived in poverty. It also wanted to solve the problems that are associated with poverty; such problems included diseases, hunger, and sanitation and shelter issues. Social work as a profession though had its origin in the 19th century in America and in England. This was because the poor were seen as a threat to the society and the elite .A way was invented to help them so that they could not threaten social order that had recently been achieved. In England the poor were divided into different groups which were given different responses and services.

In Australia social work started much later after America and England. National history shows that in Australia no social work activity had been recorded until in the 1960s a work done by Lawrence, (1965) but within the states, social work activity had long began and some work recorded. Nationally the focus was mostly on the growth of social work as a professional, in the states though it focused more on the individuals and the marginalized groups, for instance the single mothers. It is evident though that social work was most needed in Australia during the 1930s when the world was experiencing a depression, since many Australians were affected and lived in poverty.

The future of social work in Australia is heading in the direction of activism within the society for better human rights and demanding action towards the marginalized groups. It is losing the main idea of social work which is to help individuals and empower them. There is also lack of documentation of actions conducted previously by social workers and the profession should improve on it. Social work education should also be improved so that it can enhance the professional to meet standards of other profession too (Chenoweth & Mc Auliffe, 2005). It is important for a student who wishes to become a social worker to think and reflect why they choose to enter into the human service profession and if they will be able to deliver to the clients. History of the profession helps to understand the reasons for this profession, it also highlight mistakes that have been committed previously, so that they are not repeated in the future.

In the earlier days the profession of social work was dominated by female workers and in one of his book Lawrence thought that man would have performed better than a woman in this profession of social work. This was later rebuked by some feminist theorist (Nichols, 1977). The ideology also that social work is not a true profession like the others is not right because it often like other human service professions like doctors and should be accorded the same amount of respect as the others (Australian Government).

Session 2: Social problems and marginalized groups

Social problems are social issues that affect the society. Most of the social problems are socially created and they have ways in which individuals respond to such problems. Social problem facing an individual must have emanated from very many factors. The problem must be studied from a sociological perspective meaning we do not just focus o the obvious reasons that may have caused the problem but we dig in deeper to understand other forces that may have caused the problem (Clark &Cochrane, 1965). For instance if a couple is about to divorce the social problem here is divorce, but the main reason maybe they have fallen out of love but from the view of a social worker there are a number of forces that may have caused the divorce. It could be economical or lack of support from family.

The media too has a large contribution to social problems. It provides means by which people learn and adopt behavior that brings social problems such behavior include violence and tribalism. It also constructs social problems as a media such as addiction to television and to pornography. The policies against the contribution of the media to social problems are not being put into place because no matter how evident the negativities of the media are there lacks regulation from the authority to put an end to this promotion of social problems.

Social problems thus are constructed by the society itself and the ideologies present in that particular society (Burr, 1995). Let’s take an example of poverty. Poverty exists because of unequal distribution of wealth which is enhanced by presence of capitalism in the society. It is the same society that constructs ways of making sure that the poor remain poor because they lack money to invest and also to acquire education, so that they can alleviate themselves from poverty. Theoretical frameworks can be used to understand how social problems are constructed, one example of a good theory is the social structure theory explained well in the above example of the high social status and those that belong to the low social status.

Some other theories have also been used to describe and help one to understand how social problems are constructed. Most of these theories are from the founding fathers of the discipline for instance Max Weber and Karl Marx. Weber’s main focus is social change and what brings about this social change .he was also interested in bureaucratic organizations and how they operated. For Marx his main theory was about the existence of conflict in the society and that people are always in conflict with one another. These theoretical frameworks can help a worker in understanding a client’s problem and be in a good position to solve the problem from all the levels that is the individual level, organizational and social level.

A social worker should explore a social problem from a total perspective rather than from a single one .he/she should view the problem to have been caused by individual surroundings, this might be social, political, economical and even biological and psychological (Shannon & young, 2004). This enables the worker to reveal the cause of the problem, then from there to come up with ways of solving the problem facing the individual or the marginalized group.

The social policies put in place by a countries authority should uphold themselves in solving most of the social problems that may face the citizens of that country. If there are no policies to counter social problems arising and existing ones it should be the authorities responsibility to do so .the main aim of social policies is to make sure that human being live in good welfare and to make sure that all human basic needs are met (Australian Social Policy Journal).

Session 3: social policy workshop

Social policies are rules and regulation put in place by the authorities, in most cases the government on social issues (Kennett, 2004). The policies are mostly aimed at making sure that human beings are living in welfare. The policies are also a way of the government making sure that the human needs of a particular country are met. The most popular of the social policy present in many countries over the world is the health insurance program to people. Social policies are approached differently by different governing bodies the instrument that are used to achieve the social policy of a certain government are also different and they all have a chance of either succeeding or being a total failure nonetheless (Arts and social science, 2010).

There are different social policies in a government that are aimed at improving the living of the human beings, what differs and matters most is the means by which this different policies are implemented and what instruments are used in their implementation. Having an idea that is implemented into a policy is not enough one has to come up with the right means that will help deliver their ideas effectively. Therefore proper research must be done as to what means to be used and how it is going to be received by the members who are supposed to benefit from it (Arts and social science, 2011).

Different frameworks are used to analyze whether social policies are working or not .they include multi methods like the quantitative or the qualitative method. This could be used where the feelings of the masses towards certain are accessed and from there we can gauge how successful the authorities have been in implementing the policies. On qualitative numbers can be obtained to measure how well a policy is being received (McClelland & Smyths, 2010). Other frameworks that can be adopted are the multi-displinary methods which are mostly common in social sciences and problem focused analysis. In analyzing a policy one first evaluates the policies content and theories, and then proceeds to evaluating the techniques and tool used in implementing the social policies.

Different countries have different policies in place; this is different because there exists a variation in the governing bodies. Their economic level is also not at the same level therefore one country may be able to stably support a certain policy with full support from the political leaders and by having the right economic resources (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010).

Session 4 & 5: relationship between social and economic policy and political process

The relation between economic and social activities or policies with the political section has always been present since the old times till today the authorities are still the one who have a say on what should be and what should not be in the economic and in the social sector will first discuss the economic policy relation with the political process.

In the old times it seemed like the political process was only influenced by the socialist and social forces and activism? (Quiggins, 2005). But this notion came to change when it was noticed that economic forces like the free market forces could also influence and be influence by the political process in the policy making. This was known as economic liberalism and Australia was one of the first countries that adopted economic liberalism in the formation of its policies.

The economic policies that were present in most countries including Britain were mostly put in place by the political leaders that were leading during that time. In the earlier times like when capitalism first emerged there were no economic policies that could support and be fair to everyone, the ones that were present were meant to enrich the owners of the capital and leave the poor to continue being poor. The elite of that time put measures to ensure that only them that continued to control the means of production and they made sure there was not equal distribution of the wealth (Arts and social science, 2011).

The Keynesian economic doctrine, which promoted the intervention of the state in the making of economic policy, was one of a kind .it suggested that the state could implement policies that ensured there was employment .this mode helped guide most nations in making their polices especially after the war was over and countries needed to recover. This economies notion was to later fall and be replaced by modern social democracy although some of its ideas were maintained (Informa network, 2011).

The relationship between social policy and political process has always been there. Policies have been put in place due to social activism and democracy. What was seen to benefit most people in the society was put in place. Margret Thatcher failed to follow social democracy (Jones, 2006) while she was establishing her policies and this made people riot and demonstrate in the street, she ended up not being re-elected in the next election.

Session 6: indigenous issues and interface with social work

Indigenous people in Australia are believed to be the first inhabitants of the island of Australia. They are also commonly known as the aboriginal or Torres Strait islanders. They mainly lived as hunters and gatherers and most of them were mostly blacks. This group occupy a certain portion of Australia today and are usually highly discriminated in the making of the social policies and in their daily today life (Smith, 1999). They also live in poor conditions making them to be in need of human service.

The indigenous people are divided into two groups. There are those that live in the urban areas and those that reside in the rural areas. They all experience problems and difficulties but these problems are different (Baldry et al, 2009). The urban indigenous people for instance do not have land on which they can cultivate but the rural indigenous people have. The rural area indigenous people face the problem of housing, good sanitation they lack capital that they can invest the same problems the face might not be applicable to the urban living indigenous people.

The use of the human service by this indigenous people who are in most in need of it is usually limited by some factors. These factors are sometimes the worker may not understand their culture well and yet he/ she want to convince them to accept services form him/her. This will not work because they might be suspicious of the worker and may decline whatever services they are offering (Australian Social Policy Conference). The workers also have the problem of addressing the indigenous people as if they were delivering a speech to them .this is not right because the message that was intended to be delivered may not arrive home. Therefore it is important for the social worker to engage with this people and find the best means by which the message or the service can be delivered effectively. This means that the worker has to devote time to learning how this indigenous people do things and why they prefer certain things to some.

It is important for the policy makers to properly understand how the policies they are putting in place affect the people the policy is about. The indigenous people for instance had policies on their human service delivery made by a person who did not understand the burden they had to suffer when polices that were bad were made by people who did not bother to understand the situation in which they were in (Australian Social Policy).

This has helped me as a social worker to learn that when am about to conduct a human service on a certain group of people there are certain things that ought to be done. First I have to understand their culture and be able to relate to it so that the members of that particular community may accept me as their social worker. Second I have to communicate in way that they all can understand me, I should use less of the jargon in the field so that I can reach my target of delivering the services well. Thirdly it is important to involve the subjects in making of decisions or policies about them because after all they are the reason why the human service worker is there.


This essay has covered different social aspects of the social work program from the history of the profession which has enlightened me to know about the background of the profession. The origin and the main factors that led to its birth. The development of the profession in Australia and the ideologies that accompanied it. It has also enabled me to properly understand what social problems are and how these problems are constructed and how a social worker is supposed to approach a social problem so that they can help the individual fully.

The essay also covered social policies, their construction and the way they relate to the political process. The relationship of economic policies in relation to political process has also been explored. Lastly the study of the indigenous people of Australia and their need for human services. How this indigenous people are discriminated by both people and policies and how often than not human service worker fail in their duties to deliver services due to lack of understanding the indigenous people’s culture and needs.


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