Peter explains that as interest in this area of eco-social practice has increased, the need to provide social workers with clear information and tools is vital in supporting them to learn about climate change and to integrate that knowledge into their own professional practice.
This need is met in Social Workers for Climate Action (SW4CA), an alliance of social work academics, practitioners and students at JCU. SW4CA has a focus on creating change through supporting social workers and engaging with the community.
SW4CA has four main aims:
Their first aim is to provide a repository of easily accessible information about the nature and scale of the climate emergency. The group’s website hosts a range of reports and articles that define climate change, breakdown its impacts, and explain why it should be of concern to social workers.
Their second aim is to support social workers in translating this knowledge into their workplaces, organisations, and professional practice. “We’ve conducted a number of workshops for professionals in the community,” Peter says. “We also offer a service whereby such training can be brought directly to social welfare organisations and tailored to meet their particular needs.”
Their third aim relates to what social workers most frequently ask for: practical resources and ideas that embody an eco-social approach and that can be implemented in their practice.
“We’re currently developing a set of guides that suggest ways that practitioners can implement an eco-social approach, paying greater attention to the ecological and climate crises and their impacts,” Peter says.
These guides will cover strategies at a number of levels, from the personal and individual practice to working within organisations to coordinate and support broader social action.
The fourth aim focuses on that last strategy. SW4CA encourages social workers to become actively involved in efforts to mitigate climate change. “This often takes the form of building alliances with existing social and community movements, making a unique social work contribution to these,” Peter says.
Information, support, resources, and action. In the fight against a climate crisis, these are the tools that Social Workers for Climate Action will use to make an impact in the lives of those most affected by climate change.