Govt moves to regularise social work practice in Guyana

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– first social work conference held

The social work landscape in Guyana has been replete with a vast quantity of talent and expertise; however, stakeholders have been operating for too long without any comprehensive standards to provide quality services to the citizens, said Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence.

Minister Lawrence was delivering the feature address at the Social Work Conference on Standards for Professional Practice earlier today, where she noted that “Government has finally taken the initiative to regularise and standardise social work practice in Guyana.”

The two-day conference being held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre was organized by the Ministry of Social Protection in collaboration with the University of Guyana (UG), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Guyana Association of Professional Social Workers (GAPSW).

Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence
Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence

Present was Professor Ivelaw Griffith, UG’s Chancellor; Marianna Flach, UNICEF Representative to Guyana and Suriname; Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo, wife of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo; and members of the diplomatic corps and social workers.

“Our world has been advancing by leaps and bounds, technologically, socially and otherwise, and it is only fitting that we in Guyana make efforts to catch-up and keep abreast with global standards and practices. This is the goal that the Ministry has envisioned for  our professional social workers and social work practice in our country, hence the timely hosting of this important conference,” Minister Lawrence told the over 200 participants.

Minister Lawrence said social workers represent a substantial percentage of the Ministry’s workforce; therefore the standardisation of the practice is critical to the smooth running, and provision of quality social services to Guyanese.

She reiterated that optimising the performance of social workers calls for modern enhanced standardisation, so that the entire workforce will be au fait with the requirements and expectations which are in keeping with the vision of quality social work practice.

The conference targets social work administrators, practitioners and educators. Minister Lawrence urged the participants to explore thematic issues within the realms of ethical practice as they dialogue over the next two days.  She also reminded them to include in the discussions Guyana’s diverse culture, religious and ethnic culture. Attention must also be given to the Indigenous population, taken into consideration that this group resides in the remote areas of Guyana.

UG’s Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith told the participants that as they reflect on the standards of their practice, they must embrace some core values which involve respect of their clients and colleagues, integrity on how to deal with information and excellence, and moving from not just to be good but to be better.

Griffith also noted that social workers must also get involved in community engagements, helping the people to understand what social work does and how they can benefit.

A section of gathering at the Social Work Conference at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC).
A section of gathering at the Social Work Conference at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre

Meanwhile, UNICEF Representative, Marianne Flach noted that her organisation is pleased to support such an important event as part of its continued collaboration with the Government of Guyana, towards ensuring that rights of the country’s children are protected.

She highlighted some of the challenges faced by social workers, and urged them to use the conference as a platform to develop a strategy to overcome those challenges.

This conference is the first of its kind to be held in Guyana, and aims to allow key stakeholders to examine their practice in social work and present research, thereby contributing to the knowledge on the needs for ethical and professional practice in Guyana. The conference was held under the theme ‘Standards for Professional Social Work Practice.’

(GINA)

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