October 12, 2021 | 10:30 – 12:00 (CET Time)
Topic: Politički, ekonomski i okolišni izazovi u suvremenoj praksi socijalnog rada u Hrvatskoj
Contributor: Štefica Karačić
Over the past seven decades, the profession of social work in the Republic of Croatia has been continuously developing and improving. Despite of, or thanks to numerous challenges, social work in Croatia today is a regulated profession based on professional law, the highest levels of academic education, life log learning and scientific activity, having professional association working at different levels and in different areas of social work.
Empowered by the experiences from the Homeland War, as well as contemporary multiple crisis, and now local natural disasters, the social work profession is today an active and unavoidable bearer of numerous social activities, crisis interventions aimed at protecting vulnerable social groups. With the identity of helping profession, social work has shown and confirmed its values in direct work with service users, groups and communities.
New standards for social work practice assume integration of modern social work knowledge in everyday practice, advocacy and protection of human rights, equality and change for the benefit of users. Empowerment process is based on the relationship of cooperation, togetherness, trust and “sharing power” in and between different social actors.
Contemporary challenges in Croatian context more often confront social workers with a number of dilemmas. How to protect dignity of social work profession from political pressures and unrealistic strategies, unstable legislation that pose a risk of collapsing the achieved standards of the profession? How to remain consistent and loyal to the users who need help, in these times of social and economic change that reflect on social work practice and resources to provide that help?
During the coronavirus pandemic, we became aware of possibilities and advantages that usage of modern communication tools has in everyday practice with users. At the same time, the widespread use of social networks by various interest groups in our society has opened up space for public criticism of professional work and undertaken social interventions, resulting in populistic, quick decisions under the predominantly political influence. That kind of decisions have an aim to make instant damage control and result with short-term, “ad hoc” solutions. However, such approach with a lack of expert evaluation, monitoring of outcomes and planning changes has led to distrust of professional work and decisions that become a new serious challenge for social work.
Practice of social work is largely defined by political, economic and other social changes and crises, and the personal attitude of experts in change processes, so the key question is whether we as experts are ready to take responsibility for serious change and with what kind of professional activity we can influence on social policy priorities.