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‘Duty of care’ or ‘duty to care’: the responsibilisation of social work


Vreugdenhil, A, Duty of care' or duty to care': the responsibilisation of social work, Critical Ethics of Care in Social Work: Transforming the Politics and Practices of Caring, Routledge, B Pease, A Vreugdenhil, and S Stanford (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 38-48. ISBN 9781138225589 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

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Sometimes the smallest of things can lead to big questions. A passing comment from a colleague about social work being one of the ‘caring professions’ led to a conversation about the meaning of care in social work. Turning to the Code of Ethics (Australian Association of Social Workers [AASW], 2010) for guidance, I discovered that care (or caring) is only mentioned eight times in the 41-page document, with another five mentions of ‘careful’. This surprised me, as I thought care would feature more highly given that a key purpose of the Code is to "identify the values and ethics which underpin ethical social work practice" (AASW, 2010, p. 10). The first mention of care in the Code describes how social work "provides humane service, mindful of fulfilling duty of care, and duty to avoid doing harm to others" (AASW, 2010, p. 12). This linking of ‘care’ with ‘duty’ was repeated throughout the Code with a focus on ‘duty of care’ or ‘taking due care’. This seemed to suggest that care, beyond a narrow sense of duty, might have little place in contemporary social work. I was not sure what to make of this, but I knew that it warranted further investigation. This chapter is the result and explores the interplay between the growing regulation of the social work profession and the meaning and practice of care in social work.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:duty of care, social work
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Social work
Research Field:Counselling, wellbeing and community services
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Vreugdenhil, A (Associate Professor Anthea Vreugdenhil)
ID Code:119143
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2017-07-26
Last Modified:2019-03-04

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