Public Perception by wulinqing


									                                                    IFSW General Meeting 2006
                                                            Agenda item 18.3

                     Promotion of the Profession
The aim of the subcommittee is “to promote social work to organisations and
to the public at national and international levels.”

One of the tasks of the subcommittee was to find out more about the
perception of social work in the countries where there are IFSW members.

First step taken was to send a questionnaire to IFSW member organisations
and IFSW representatives regarding what they were already doing in this area
and to ask their view on the IFSW plan.

All organisations and representatives received the questionnaire. Twenty
three responses were received.

The following is the break down of the twenty three responses by region:
    Africa: two responses were received.
    Asia and Pacific: five responses were received.
    Europe: thirteen responses were received.
    Latin America and Caribbean: no responses were received.
    North America: three responses were received.

Total number of responses: 23

The following is a summary of the responses to each of the questions asked.

Question 1 Do you have any information /knowledge about what the
public think of social work in your country/province/state?
      15 respondents said they had information and 8 said they did not.

How was the information obtained?
Information came in the following ways:
     Informally through interaction with the public and society;
     The media/press articles and reports; (a point was made that often
      social workers are unable to respond to media reports “because details
      from the case is official matter and they can not say that in public. So,
      public have only one side of story.”)
     Informal discussions;
     Workshop/training sessions;
     NGO’s;
     Clients/service users;
     Report prepared by a consulting firm;
     Unpublished report produced by an independent company;
     Focus groups held with the public and social workers as part of a public
      education campaign;
     National survey;

      Students;
      Surveys or questionnaires carried out by universities, organisations
       themselves or sister organisations.

Question 2: which of the following public education materials regarding
the social work role, do you have available within your organisation?

1 pamphlets/booklets that explain the social work role in general?
     18 had and 5 did not.

2 pamphlets/booklets that explain the role of social work in specific
fields of practice?
       15 did and 8 did not.

3 Videos
      8 had videos and 15 did not.

4 Radio advertisements
      3 used them and 20 did not.

5 Television advertisements
      One used them and 22 did not.

6 Articles/advertisements for newspapers/magazines
       14 had articles/advertisements and 9 did not.

7 Posters/billboard advertisements
      15 used them and 8 did not.

8 Website information
     20 had website information and three did not.

9 Newsletters
     19 had newsletters available and 4 did not.

10 Other
    Journals
    Proceedings of annual conferences
    Social work awards video which is promoted to the local and national
    Workshops
    Regional special interest group meetings

Mentioned in relation to this question was the high cost of advertisements on
radio and television and newspapers and magazines. Also mentioned was the
fact that pamphlets etc were in the language of the organisation only and so
not very accessible to others.
It was also mentioned that some newsletters were for members only and so
not available to the public.

Question 3 do these materials work well? In your opinion are they
effective in educating the public about the social work role?

      Three were definite that they were not.

Other responses included the following comments:
    There was “not sufficient dissemination of information” and that there
       were “small pockets of efforts in various areas” but there was no major
    Posters were effective.
    To be effective the materials “have to be made visible all the time, and
       easily accessible to the public”.
    It was pointed out how difficult it is to keep written and electronic
       information up to date.
    It was also thought that the website was the most easily accessed form
       for general public enquiries and information (including jobs).
    “The distribution of press releases, social policy papers, position
       statements to raise awareness about issues or identify social policy
       gaps/needs has been effective in increasing the public’s knowledge
       about social work roles as well as the profession’s values.”
    “A planned and well resourced media campaign would be much more
    “The larger public isn’t interested in or targeted by it.”
    “These materials work well, but they do not reach all the public….
       “Social work” means something strange and that social workers are
       those horrible people, who take kids from their parents”.
    “The public still don’t know about the role of the social worker until the
       public meet a social worker…the material is not working well and little
       is done about it”.
    One respondent said that these materials were not working because
       their website was very small and their documents were mainly about
       the association.
    They are effective but they are not sufficient as service users do not
       have the internet.
    The importance of the internet was stressed.
    The magazine of the organisation was seen as important.
    The social work role needed to be publicised more in the media.
    One organisation pointed out how all their material was in their own

Question 4 which of the following methods do you use to increase
awareness about social work/the social work role?

1 Public presentations at community meetings/service organisations
      16 responded that they used these while 7 said they did not.

2 Conference presentations
      All respondents used conference presentations.

3 Information booths
       13 used information booths and 10 did not.

4 Social work week/social work day activities
      17 used this activity in some format whether a day, week or month.
      Six did not. One of the six had done so in the past but did not have the
      resources to arrange any activities in recent years. Another of the six
      was planning activities for 2007.

5 Presentations at career days/schools
      16 used these and 7 did not.

6 interprofessional education (courses/workshops)
       18 used courses/workshops while 5 did not.

7 Other
    Media releases on pertinent issues.
    Annual social workers’ symposium.
    Coalitions with consumers and other disciplines.
    Letter writing campaigns.
    Posting successful and innovative work from individual social workers
      on the website.
    Panel discussions.
    Follow on actions from courses or formation or follow on days.

Question 5 in your opinion which of these methods has worked well and
have you thoughts/ideas why they worked well?

What worked well?
   Conference presentations.
   Seminars.
   Courses
   All the methods worked.
   Ethics posters.
   Social work day/week/month.
   Presentations and sponsorships at large interdisciplinary events.
   Coalitions of other professional bodies, consumers and NGOs.
   Posting success stories on the website.
   Website with section for public and section for members only.
   National projects.
   Endorsement of research projects.
   Panel discussions.
   Contact with students.
   Publicity and advertising.

   Conference presentations worked well because of the involvement of
     policy makers and non social workers and because there is an
     “audience who are both curious and interested to know about who
     social workers are and what roles do they play in community
     development and nation building.”
   One respondent thought all the methods could work “if done on a
     systematic planned long term basis” and another thought that “a variety
     of methods make more impact”.
   In relation to coalitions, they provide “an opportunity to include the
     social work perspective in writings and publications” and enables the
     organisation to include its name or logo on media releases, posters etc.
   Using success stories on the website “educate about the social work
     role, provide specific examples of what social workers do, provide
     examples of success and positive outcomes and motivate and give
     ideas to other social workers.”
   In relation to social work day/week/month it gives an opportunity for
     social workers “to acknowledge the profession, identify and comment
     on issues of concern and demonstrate social work values.”
   One respondent said that they have added to the website a section
     specifically to highlight issues for public awareness. It “includes
     descriptions of social work roles in specific areas of practice, an
     opportunity to highlight relevant social issues, and links to websites that
     would be relevant to the public as they attempt to seek social work and
     relevant resources.”

      A point was made by some respondents in this section that their focus
       was on getting more social workers to join their professional
       association and not on the wider public. One respondent in fact said
       this was the most important thing to do and someone who came across
       professionally was important in doing this.

Question 6 would your organisation have an interest in using
materials/messages that are produced by IFSW regarding the social
work role/social work practice?

Not surprisingly all said yes.

If yes which kind of materials/messages?
     Flyers
     Audio-visual materials
     Drama
     Feature articles
     Talk shows on TV/radio
     Training of trainers and seminar materials
     Posters
     Statement on definition of social work
     Global standards for social work practice and education
     Ethics document
     IFSW policy statements on social work issues
     Slides
     Collaterals with punch lines
     IFSW newsletters, publications, conference proceedings and important
       minutes of meetings both at the global and regional level.
     Promotional brochures
     Pins
     T-shirts
     Books
     Information on the development and expansion of social work in other
       parts of the world
     Human rights
     Links to economic development discussions.
     Documents about the European Union (EU)
     Social work action day/week/month events
     Brochures (with space for translation to be added)
     Pamphlets (with space for translation to be added)
     Surveys and research on the role of social workers
     Articles from the European Social Worker
     Leaflets
     Media advertisements for papers, radio and television
     Information for students and for the general public
     Booklets focusing on international issues
     Social work systems and legislation in different countries

      Website materials
      Videos/DVDs
      Information on differences and similarities in social work in different
      Material regarding supervision in social work, (in particular the
       qualifications and education needed to supervise.)
      Leaflet on the ability of a social worker to work as “a self employee”
      Information regarding qualifications

Question 7 what suggestions have you got regarding the type of public
education campaign that IFSW could offer?

      Audio-visual, television/radio presentations
      Talk shows
      Feature articles in the print media
      Seminar and conferences
      Drama and theatre arts
      Internet advertisements
      Bulletins
      Newsletters
      Journals
      Package of information which would include posters, press statements,
       videos and short articles to be designed by IFSW. This could be used
       by member organisations around the world for example on social work
       action day/week/month.
      Assist national social work organisations by “vigorously promoting the
       profession within the governments of nations where the social work
       profession is being given least recognition and support”.
      Provide publicity about the core values and standards of the
       professional social worker which need to be promoted internationally.
      Continue to issue the international media releases around pertinent
       issues. (The comment was added that IFSW does this well)
      Development of high quality material such as posters/brochures taking
       into account that copyright might be an issue.
      Create tools that give the flavour of social work in different countries.
      Assess the current challenges and perceptions of social work in
       different countries and see what are the similarities and differences.
      Define different approaches to public education efforts (government led
       vs. private funding for example) to get new ideas
      Continue to raise awareness and address social justice issues – this
       should be the basis for IFSW’S public education.
      Materials relevant to social justice issues in order to demonstrate the
       values and principles of social work and they can serve as an
       educational tool for the public, governments and social workers.
      Exchange programmes
      Support to groups of service users to attend IFSW meetings and

      Brochures and pamphlets and leaflets that all social work organisations
       could use
      Films
      Pictures
      Presentations
      Interviews
      Posters
      Conferences
      Information on the Internet
      Short videos/DVDs of what social workers do
      Materials for radio/TV
      Advertisements
      Public meetings to let general public know what social work has to offer
      Information for students

Question 8 do you have a committee/contact person responsible for
public education/promotion of the profession?

       9 respondents have a committee/contact person and 14 do not.

If no do you have any plans or ideas about this?

       Only three had no plans or ideas about this. Some were in the
       process of setting up committees or having a contact person.
       Some said they had ideas but had no money to implement them
       and one respondent said they had too much else to do.

Question 9 do you have an action plan for public education/promotion of
the profession?

       11 said that they have an action plan and 12 said they did not.

If yes please tell us as much as you can about the action plan.

Descriptions included:
   Social worker’s day
   Working closely with mass media
   Career fair
   School talks
   Case presentations to create awareness among key partners about the
      impact of social work
   One respondent said that they were having a professional dialogue
      between their organisation and a counselling organisation in order to
      clarify working relationships, roles and responsibilities between the two.
   Ongoing involvement in basic social work training programmes for
      social welfare staff;
   Working with the government to persuade them to endorse national
      standards in social work.
   Social justice activities

      Involvement in projects
      Attendance at conferences/meetings to promote the role and values of
       the profession
      Action plan for promotion of the profession focusing on implementing
       changes and maximising the potential to use the website to promote
       the image of social workers and to create opportunities to bring
       attention to the social work perspective on current social issues and
       policy development.
      Formal communications plan for public image campaign.
      Influencing legislation regarding the working environment of social
      Regional conferences and seminars
      Development of the internet to share information
      National conference
      Workshops and round tables
      Education of carers in NGOs
      Study and advertising of social work at two day fair

Of those who did not have a plan, four had no thoughts of developing such a
plan. All the other respondents had but some said they had no resources to
develop such a plan and some said they had too much else to do.

Question 10 Do you have any comments about the IFSW plan to develop
a public education initiative?

       Comments were mostly favourable to developing such a plan.

Comments included the following:
   IFSW should assist national organisations especially those from the
    developing countries to build their capacities in such areas as
    organisational development, planning and human resources.
   IFSW should assist organisations with books, documentaries and
    materials on social work and other global topical issues.
   It is imperative to use all the positive means available to get close to
    the public.
   It is very important for IFSW in conjunction with the regional bodies to
    map out strategies to expand, form and strengthen national
    organisations in countries where there are none.
   IFSW should encourage and support effective interactions and
    partnerships whether bilateral or multilateral among member
   Wish it to be launched at various levels – government/non-government
    organisations, private industries, schools and universities.
   Ensure sustainability and continued efforts at public education.
   Some national organisations are more concerned about social workers
    learning about their local organisation than about the public perception
    of social work per se.

      As this takes a lot of resources and focus, there is a need to be clear
       about the investment that can be made and target all efforts to achieve
       specific goals.
      Needs to be inclusive and take into consideration IFSW membership
       difference: language, culture, resources etc.
      Important to involve service users in such initiatives.
      Important to prepare easy to read pamphlets/booklets which explain
       the activities of social workers and the fundamental principles and
       ethics of social work.
      The systems of the different countries are so different from each other
       that it will not be possible to have an IFSW plan for public education.
      How will the plan assist national groups to take public education
      How can small organisations and less well off organisations participate
       and gain from the initiative?

   The survey is limited by the small number of responses.
   It is clear from the survey that member organisations do have
    information about what the public think of social work.
   Member organisations have public education materials of various
    kinds. There are regional differences in this in terms of what
    organisations have available to them. Cost is an issue to everyone
    although cost for some is about advertising while for some it is about
    basic materials. Most believed that the materials available to them
    were not very effective.
   Respondents used various methods to increase awareness and most
    seemed to think these worked well. However a number did point out
    that they were more intent on increasing awareness among social
    workers of their professional organisation than on increasing the
    awareness of the public.
   All respondents had an interest in using materials produced by IFSW
    and there were lots of ideas about what kind of materials would be
   There were lots of suggestions about the type of public education
    campaign that IFSW could offer.
   It was of particular interest that of the 23 respondents, only 9 have a
    committee or contact person responsible for public education or
    promotion of the profession. Interesting too that some said this was
    because of lack of finances, lack of time and too many other things to
   It is also of note that twelve respondents do not have an action plan for
    public education. However there were a lot of ideas among those who
    had action plans.

      Respondents mostly were favourable towards the idea of IFSW
       developing a public education initiative, although some pointed out how
       the different systems in different countries would make this difficult.
       Some also pointed out that some national organisations are more
       focused on getting social workers interested in their local organisation
       than being concerned about public education.

   Public education or promotion of the profession needs to be at a
     number of levels:
             Educating member organisations about each other and what
             resources each have and what could be shared
             Educating social workers themselves about their local and/or
             national professional organisations
             Educating students
             Educating other disciplines/professions
             Educating the public through the media, meetings, internet,
             public awareness campaigns
   First steps might be for IFSW to facilitate contact between member
     organisations to learn what resources are available and what could be
     shared given regional differences of language, culture, systems etc.
   Important in this is the issue of translation. A recurring point made by a
     number of respondents was the issue of language and the fact that
     some organisations have information but it is in their own language and
     therefore the information is not easily accessible to others. Resources
     for translation are therefore important.
   Respondents said that the materials they had were not very effective in
     educating the public. It would be helpful to consider this in more detail
     so that member organisations could learn what was effective and share
     that information and not waste time and resources on ineffective
   IFSW could support organisations to increase their local membership
     by facilitating contact between those organisations which have lots of
     materials and information about this and those who do not, particularly
     those who are starting out. It would be helpful to share what worked
     and what did not.
   IFSW could facilitate the use of the website to share information
     between member organisations.
   This questionnaire was sent out to member organisations only due to
     restrictions of time etc. It would be helpful to find out what others think
     of social workers and what information they have about the profession.
     The questionnaire could be adapted to do this and sent to sister
     organisations and NGOs etc.
   Other issues which link to the public perception of the profession such
     as registration and accreditation also need to be linked into this topic.

Monica Egan
July 2006


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