Welcome from the Conference Chairperson

Welcome from the 2021 Conference Chairperson

The Executive of the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI) invites you to participate in the 2021 biennial Social Work Conference to be held online from the 1st to 3rd September 2021.

We are delighted to collaborate this year with key role-players and stakeholders in academia, locally, regionally and internationally, to bring to you this online conference. On the local level, ASASWEI is proud to team up with the Department of Social Work at the University of Zululand, based in KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa (www.unizulu.ac.za). We hope to use this opportunity to showcase the beauty of the Kingdom of the Zulus in all its glory.

We are also privileged to present Conference 2021 in association with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) who has a pivotal role in the development of social service professions, and the National Department of Social Development responsible for social welfare services in South Africa.

Allow me also to introduce to you the newly formed South African Student Social Workers Association (SASSWA). This is the first-ever formation of a national association for social work students in South Africa and we are proud to have our students as part of a national initiative at Conference 21.

On the regional and international levels, ASASWEI is also honoured to collaborate with the Association of the Schools of Social Work in Africa (ASSWA) as well as the International Association of the Schools of Social Work (IASSW). ASASWEI, ASSWA and the IASSW have a long-standing relationship of working together on previous conferences, webinars and workshops. Furthermore, ASASWEI has a representative who serves on the IASSW. This collaboration of academic partners with a vested interest in social work education embraces the advancement of social work interventions into the 21st century.

The pandemic.

The years 2020 and 2021 will be remembered for the most lethal pandemic since the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu. Since COVID-19 was first discovered in late 2019, over 156 million cases have been reported, and nearly 3.26 million deaths and 92.4 million recoveries have been recorded.

Hundreds of countries implemented unprecedented ‘lockdown’ restrictions to control the spread of the virus, resulting in the closure of many businesses, travel bans, a rapid increase in unemployment rates, and widespread disruptions to health and social services. Vaccination programmes are slowly implemented, with many countries battling to reach the masses to implement pharmaceutical interventions.

There are varying narratives on the disease, with numerous criticisms of the way countries, and indeed the world, has responded to the pandemic. Arguments were raised that the responses were disproportionate, have unfairly shifted the burden of disease or indirect health effects from wealthier to poorer people and regions, have not been sensible, or have been driven by fear rather than data. The discovery of new variants of the virus suggests that it might prove an elusive target.To prevent the further spread of this disease, and in compliance with restrictions on movement and government interventions, the Executive of ASASWEI has decided to hold the entire Conference 2021 on an online platform. We are indeed indebted to the University of Zululand for volunteering its advanced technology to support Conference 2021.

Conference 2021.

Conference 2021 will be held online from the 1st to 3rd September 2021.

The profession of social work is known for advocating human rights, social justice and equality. Our work has continued to emphasise building human relationships and fostering ubuntu, whilst empowering the vulnerable, during this new normal. Thus, the key theme of Conference 2021 is Pandemics, poverty and inequality: Social work in the 21st century. This theme is also built on the successful ASASWEI Colloquium of 2020 which brought together local social work academics to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social work education and practice and our work in vulnerable communities during the lockdown.

The main Conference 2021 theme and the sub-themes are designed to provide delegates with opportunities to network and deliberate around issues pertinent to social work education that promotes knowledge and skills on the theme Pandemics, poverty and inequality: Social work in the 21st century.

Conference 2021 draws together South African, African and International social work scholars, educators, researchers, students, policy-makers, managers and practitioners. Delegates and presentations from related disciplines are also invited.

We welcome you to Conference 2021 and invite you to submit an abstract to present a paper. Participate with us in what is sure to be vibrant and challenging conversations.

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