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Social Work with Indigenous Communities

In Social Work with Indigenous Communities - A human rights approach, Linda Briskman, social worker, academic and author of the acclaimed book The Black Grapevine - Aboriginal Activism and the Stolen Generations, throws down the gauntlet to practitioners and students of social work, challenging them to pursue a better, more informed way of meeting the unique needs of this community. The realisation of the human rights of Australia's Indigenous population has been marred by recurring and seemingly intractable issues such as poor health and over-representation in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In this second edition, Briskman adopts a discursive human rights approach which offers the potential to center Indigenous rights and Indigenous voice. Fully updated, the book includes new chapters and references to literature and research which have been published since the first edition. There are specific chapters devoted to the areas of youth, health, criminal justice, children and families and an interrogation of different forms of social work practice such as casework, advocacy, research and community development. This book provides practitioners and students with a good understanding of the circumstances they will be presented with when working with Indigenous communities, and an opportunity to reframe their practice so that they can provide services that are the best fit for Indigenous aspirations and rights. Good practice is marked by recognition of the strengths of Indigenous communities and an understanding of how to acknowledge and facilitate these. A human rights framework offers the potential for this to be achieved.
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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbout the AuthorAbbreviations Prologue - Beyond Sorry Part 1 - Background and Context Challenges for social work A human rights approach Whither human rights?Global and local perspectives Racism in Australian society Part 2 - Locating Social Work Social work and human rights practice Child and family welfare Youth (in)justice Adult (in)justice Health Part 3 - Practising Social Work Reconstructing social work practice Advocacy and activismCommunity development Research Part 4 - Talking Points Contested ground and debatesThe way forward


About the Author

Linda Briskman is a social worker and human rights activist. She is Professor of Human Rights at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology. For more than 30 years, she has worked in partnership with Indigenous communities in Australia in direct practice, policy, research and advocacy. As well as a commitment to the rights of Australia's first peoples, Linda advocates for the most recent arrivals - asylum seekers who have been detained in Australia's immigration detention centres. Linda writes and conducts research on groups whose rights continue to be violated.


Reviews of previous edition: Briskman takes a bold, but important, step out onto a fine line. Briskman manages to confront social work for its role in dispossessing indigenous communities while also asserting the role social work has in joining with indigenous communities in the journey towards self-determination and wellbeing on their terms ... Anti-oppressive practice strongly underpins the message of this book. ...This book certainly contributes to a subject area that has been silenced for far too long and the limited number of books written on this subject area makes this contribution all the more significant. ... Briskman demonstrates the importance of the overlap between indigenous and non-indigenous scholarship and social action. - Tracie Mafile'o, Social Work Education, Vol 28:7, 2009 ...I have a belief that a book is worth reading if it gives you a "wow" moment or a new perspective that you have never had. Being an Indigenous social worker and having thought about this area extensively, I was not expecting a "wow" moment and yet I had a couple. ... I would recommend this as a text for those people wanting an introduction to the field and a structure within which to think about it. [it] gives a good span of information and Indigenous perspectives, and draws the reader back to the question of how to take the information into their own practice. I do think the book successfully names the sins of the past, but also describes the potential for success for social work practice. This book gives a very good overview of this area and is a very welcome addition to the field. - Stephanie Gilbert, The University of Newcastle, Australia Social Work, Vol 61 No 1, December 2008 This book makes a significant contribution to the current social work literature on social work with Indigenous communities. it is extremely valuable for social work practitioners, academics and students...[it] offers engagement with selective areas of interest as well as providing a text that encourages reflection on the meaning and relevance of social work practice with Indigenous people. - Forum, Number 54, June 2008 - Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights ... essential reading for all practising social workers (and social work students) who have an interest in Indigenous issues. - Family Matters (Australian Institute of Family Studies), No 77 2007 [The book's] open, uncluttered style of presentation and organisation makes it accessible to entry-level social-work students, practitioners and academics alike. Its unflinching advocacy of critical/structural social-work ... keeps a sense of integrity with the community and structural aspects of social-work practice... Taken as a whole, Social Work with Indigenous Communities effectively points to the profound need for more effective, more socially active work based on the tenets of social justice. As such, it is [a] valuable resource for new social-work students and practitioners alike - one which provides a glimpse into the myriad of complex issues encountered in practice with Indigenous communities. It is also a valuable resource for social-work educators, ideal for use as a conceptual centrepiece, connecting and correlating other more detailed resources. - Australian Aboriginal Studies, Vol 2, 2007

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