Here is an abstract of an article written with colleagues from MMU (led by Prof Hugh McLlaughlin) about MARACs and Social Work
Summary This article focuses on adult social work’s response in England to high-risk domestic violence cases and the role of adult social workers in multi-agency risk and assessment conferences. The research was undertaken between 2013 and 2014 and focused on one city in England and involved the research team attending multi-agency risk and assessment conferences. Interviews with 20 adult social workers, 24 multi-agency risk and assessment conferences attendees, 14 adult service users at time T1 (including follow-up interviews after six months, T2), focus groups with independent domestic violence advocates and Women’s Aid and an interview with a Women’s Aid service user.
Findings The findings suggest that although adult social workers accept the need to be involved in domestic violence cases they are uncertain of what their role is and are confused with the need to operate a parallel domestic violence and adult safeguarding approach, which is further, complicated by issues of mental capacity. Multi-agency risk and assessment conferences are identified as overburdened, under-represented meetings staffed by committed managers. However, they are in danger of becoming managerial processes neglecting the service users they are meant to protect.
Applications The article argues for a re-engagement of adult social workers with domestic violence that has increasingly become over identified with child protection. It also raises the issue whether multi-agency risk and assessment conferences remain fit for purpose and whether they still represent the best possible response to multi-agency coordination and practice in domestic violence.
Within a global profession with a stated definition that includes “promoting social change and development, social cohesion and the empowerment and liberation of people”, it would be expected that the issue of domestic abuse would be integral to the training and role of all social workers. This article reports on research, which highlighted both a lack of understanding of the role of adult social worker within cases of domestic abuse and also a desire for further training around the issue. However, this article sets out how the current UK (in particular, English) context of social work marginalises the issue of domestic abuse within practice with adults. This marginalisation has been achieved through the construction of domestic abuse as a children and families issue and limited duties, powers and resources within statutory work to support victims/survivors in their own right, rather than as “failing” parents. However, the article argues that the role of social work education should be wider than teaching to the current policy or procedures and instead encourage a wider appreciation of the social, historical and political context. The article concludes with tentative suggestions for how domestic abuse could be considered within the social work curriculum for adult practitioners. This is in acknowledgement that social workers can be well positioned for the detection, investigation and support of those experiencing abuse.
Rachel Robbins, Concetta Banks, Hugh McLaughlin, Claire Bellamy & Debbie Thackray (2016): Is Domestic Abuse an Adult Social Work Issue?, Social Work Education, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733
To access the full document, you may need to be registered with a university library or contact me for further details.
In my early days of teaching, working with Access and first year undergraduate social work students, I would try to encourage students to consider why context, politics and policy matters:
Me: (Tongue in cheek) So, let’s say the government decided to declare war on some random country in the Middle East (highly unlikely, I know) – what impact do you think this would have on social work?
This question was an exercise in an introductory social policy unit, where one of the objectives was to acknowledge the impact war has on social relations. Students would surprise themselves with the list they produced:
Soldiers returning with disabilities
Soldiers returning with PTSD or other mental illnesses
Increased numbers of asylum seekers, including children in need
Increased budget on defence, meaning less money spent on health and welfare
Not just him. All of them. All of the ex-soldiers, standing begging in the street, boards tied around their necks. All of them reminding you of something that you want to forget. It went on long enough. She grew up under it, like a great squatting thing, leaching all the colour and joy from life.
She kicks her dance dress into the corner of the room.
The war’s over, why can’t all of them just bloody well move on?
This is the full text of In Defence of Welfare II. In Defence of Welfare began in 2010 as a response to this government’s first Major Spending Review. Put together by the Social Policy Association, it was an attempt to anticipate the impact of such cuts to welfare on British society.
This second edition, In Defence of Welfare 2, brings together nearly fifty short pieces from a diverse range of academics, policy makers and journalists to explore the impact of those reforms at a time when a general election is looming. The tone is overwhelmingly critical and assesses the impact of a government with little or no understanding of what it means to be disadvantaged or marginalised. It covers a wide range of welfare issues. Oh, and I wrote the chapter on domestic violence – which can be accessed here:
The fact is that if we followed the history of every little country in this world – in its dramatic as well as its quiet times – we would have no space left in which to live our own lives or to apply ourselves to our necessary tasks, never mind indulge in occasional pleasures like swimming. Surely there is something to be said for drawing a circle around our attention and remaining within that circle. But how large should this circle be?
There are some distressing images in this blog
This blog is longer than others because this quote really got me thinking and I ramble without any conclusion