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International organizations meet in Sweden

Jeane Anastas, Morel CaissieNASW President Jeane Anastas, left, and Canadian Association of Social Workers President Morel Caissie re-sign the NASW and CASW memorandum of understanding between the two organizations. The event took place in July during the Joint World Conference of Social Work and Social Development in Stockholm.

NASW leaders joined social workers from around the world at the Joint World Conference of Social Work and Social Development, held in July in Stockholm.

The theme for the global event was “action and impact.” It brought together the three major global social work organizations: the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the International Council on Social Welfare and the International Federation of Social Workers.

The conference gave attendees the opportunity to review implementation strategies of the Global Social Work Agenda, which was created by the three international organizations.

The agenda’s aim is for the groups to work together at all levels for change, social justice and the universal implementation of human rights — building on the wealth of social initiatives and social movements.

Conference attendees also worked to align the local, regional, national and global social practice environments to strengthen and reinforce the impact of social work.

Gary Bailey, former NASW president, is the current president of IFSW, which represents 750,000 members globally. He said the gathering was inspiring.

“We had 2,500 social workers, educators and developers in one space,” he said. “It was impressive. Once you are there, you understand the global power of social work.”

Bailey said the three organizations will continue to seek support from governments, nongovernment organizations and the United Nations to implement goals listed in the Global Agenda.

“Each organization is different,” he said. “IFSW addresses social work practice. IASSW focuses on education and research and ICSW addresses social development. While each group will work on separate approaches, the destination will be the same.”

Something new at the Stockholm conference was special international media coverage by the British daily newspaper The Guardian. Reporters posted stories and blog updates of the conference’s many activities, including an interview with Bailey.

The media exposure reinforced the fact that social workers are an important part of society’s health care systems, Bailey said.

“Having The Guardian participate with social media is another way of bringing people to the moment and helping them understand what is taking place,” he said. “It’s important for us to go out and partner with the press to expand the public’s understanding of social work.”

IFSW held its annual meeting during the conference and confirmed NASW President Jeane Anastas as president of the IFSW North American Region, which includes NASW and the Canadian Association of Social Workers. NASW renewed its memorandum of understanding with the CASW as well.

Anastas said the conference presentations were thought-provoking.

“The keynoters and plenary presenters were world-class experts on their topics,” she said. “The overarching theme showcased the importance of professional social work education and social development for individuals, families and societies.”

Anastas said it is important that social work organizations work together on common goals.

“In some countries, social work does not get the respect it deserves,” she said. “We have common challenges and we can articulate common goals, like ethical standards, that help strengthen all of us.”

Anastas joined Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, in presenting “Building Research Culture and Infrastructure: Strategies and Tools For Faculty, Doctoral Students and Agencies.”

NASW also presented a poster session of the NASW Shift Project for Suicide Prevention with Adolescent Girls tool kit. It is a step-by-step online resource that can help practitioners, agencies and community stakeholders make the case and the shift to evidence-based programs.

NASW CEO Elizabeth J. Clark and Special Assistant to the CEO Elizabeth Hoffler presented “The Congressional Social Work Caucus: A Renewed Focus on the Social Safety Net.” They explained how the caucus serves as a congressionally approved bipartisan group of members of Congress dedicated to maintaining and strengthening social work services in the U.S. The caucus has more than 60 members, including all of the social workers in Congress. They also discussed the continued importance of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act.