Social Work Theories in Action

By Mary Nash; Robyn Munford et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Responding to Settlement Needs:
Migrants and Refugees
and Community Development

Mary Nash

This chapter focuses on community work in the context of what is arguably a new field of practice, namely settlement work (George 2002) with migrants and refugees. Elements of civic social work, defined by Powell (2001, p.163–65) as 'a concern for the rights and needs of citizens' are also involved in this field of practice. Community work may be defined as different in kind from social work, or as related, but at the far end of the caring spectrum from social work. As agents for change wherever there are structural and social injustices resulting in the oppression of minority groups, community workers and social workers can meet philosophically and professionally in settlement work. Refugees and many other groups of migrants are growing and recognized minorities with whom both community and social workers are involved. The skills of community work are as essential as those of social work in this new field of practice. Effective settlement workers will have a critical analysis of the social structures and political pressures, international as well as local, which lead to both voluntary and forced migration and eventual settlement. This, together with knowledge of human rights and social justice issues, provides a foundation on which to build the necessary community work skills for appropriate intervention in this complex field.

What this means for practitioners in New Zealand as well as internationally will be illustrated using findings from two nationwide postal surveys, one of social workers (Nash and Trlin 2004) and one of non-government organizations (NGOs) (Nash and Trlin forthcoming) carried out in 2001.1 These surveys gathered information about programmes and services available to migrants and refugees and information about current service provision in relation to govern

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