What’s the Problem with Gender-Neutral Regulation of Australian Social Work Education?
Keywords:Feminist social work education, Regulatory requirements, Gender, Bacchi, WPR, Advocacy, Compulsory attendance, Special Consideration
This article examines the question of the gender-neutral accreditation regulations of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), and of the Special Consideration policy of Australian universities where social work education happens. The focus is on the AASW’s 20 days’ mandated on-campus attendance and the requirement for off-campus social work students to apply for special consideration for an alternate task from the university if they cannot attend. Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the problem represented to be?” (WPR) framework is used to provide a feminist policy analysis. The WPR analysis identifies an unstated assumption that the campus mode of delivery is superior to on-line modes. Further, equity problems are identified due to the lack of a gender analysis informing both the AASW regulations and university Special Consideration policies. Off-campus social work students are represented in the identified AASW compulsory attendance and Special Consideration policies as a particular kind of problem – one that is predicated on outdated stereotypes of the genderless university student and the privileging of traditional face-to-face education. The argument is made that WPR can be used by social work academics, and others, to reveal, resist and improve oppressive regulatory requirements of social work professional associations and universities.
Acker, J. (2006). Inequality regimes gender, class, and race in organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), 441–464.
Afrouz, R., & Crisp, B. R. (2021). Online education in social work, effectiveness, benefits, and challenges: A scoping review. Australian Social Work, 74(1), 55–67.
Arbon, V. (2008). Knowing from where? In A. Gunstone (Ed.), History, politics and knowledge: Essays in Australian Indigenous studies (pp. 134–146). Australian Scholarly Publishing.
Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). (2020a). Australian social work education and accreditation standards. AASW https://www.aasw.asn.au/careers-study/education-standards-accreditation
Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). (2020b). COVID-19 social work study FAQs: COVID-19 pandemic response to the Australian social work education and accreditation standards (ASWEAS). https://www.aasw.asn.au/careers-study/covid-19-social-work-study-faqs
Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2020). Gender indicators, Australia, 2020. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/people-and-communities/gender-indicators-australia/latest-release#key-statistics.
Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). (2018). Poverty in Australia 2018. https://www.acoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ACOSS_Poverty-in-Australia-Report_Web-Final.pdf
Australian Government. (2009). Transforming Australia’s higher education system. Commonwealth of Australia. http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/131634
Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). (2018). Face the facts: Gender equality 2018. https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/education/face-facts-gender-equality-2018
Autin, F., Batruch, A., & Butera, F. (2015). Social justice in education: How the function of selection in educational institutions predicts support for (non)egalitarian assessment practices. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(707). https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00707/full
Bacchi, C. (2000). Policy as discourse: What does it mean? Where does it get us? Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 21(1), 45-57.
Bacchi, C. (2009). Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? Pearson Education.
Bacchi, C., & Goodwin, S. (2016). Making politics visible: The WPR approach. In C. Bacchi & S. Goodwin (Eds.), Poststructural policy analysis (pp. 13–26). Springer.
Bagilhole, B., & Goode, J. (2001). The contradiction of the myth of individual merit, and the reality of a patriarchal support system in academic careers. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 8(2), 161–180.
Baglow, L., & Gair, S. (2019). Mature-aged social work students: Challenges, study realities, and experiences of poverty. Australian Social Work, 72(1), 91–104.
Bennett, B. (2015). “Stop deploying your white privilege on me!” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement with the Australian Association of Social Workers. Australian Social Work, 68(1), 19–31.
Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture. Sage.
Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H., & Scales, B. (2008). Review of higher education in Australia, final report. Commonwealth of Australia.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2019). Reflecting on reflexive thematic analysis. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 11(4), 589-597.
Brough, M., Correa-Velez, I., Crane, P. R., Johnstone, E., & Marston, G. (2015). Balancing the books: An assessment of financial stress associated with social work and human service student placements. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/82024/3/82024.pdf
Bryant, L., Garnham, B., Tedmanson, D., & Diamandi, S. (2018). Tele-social work and mental health in rural and remote communities in Australia. International Social Work, 61(1), 143–155.
Chung, E., Turnbull, D., & Chur-Hansen, A. (2014). Who are “non-traditional students”? A systematic review of published definitions in research on mental health of tertiary students. Educational Research and Reviews, 9, 1224–1238. doi:10.5897/ERR2014.1944
Coman, G. J., Burrows, G. D., & Evans, B. J. (2001). Telephone counselling in Australia: Applications and considerations for use. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 29(2), 247–258.
Connell, R. (1995). Masculinities. University of California Press.
Connell, R., & Messerschmidt, J. (2005). Rethinking hegemonic masculinity. Gender and Society, 19(6), 829–859.
Craig, L., & Mullan, K. (2011). How mothers and fathers share childcare: A cross-national time-use comparison. American Sociological Review, 76(6), 834–861.
Crawford, F., & Leitmann, S. (2001). The midwifery of power: Reflections of the development of professional social work in Western Australia. Australian Social Work, 54, 43–54.
Crisp, B. R. (2018). From distance to online education: Two decades of remaining responsive by one university social work programme. Social Work Education, 37(6), 718–730.
Crisp, B. R. (2019). Social work education: Moving the profession into the future. Australian Social Work, 72(1), 3–7.
Dahle, R. (2012). Social work: A history of gender and class in the profession. Ephemera, 12(3), 309–326.
Davis, C., Greenaway, R., Moore, M., & Cooper, L. (2019). Online teaching in social work education: Understanding the challenges. Australian Social Work, 72(1), 34–46.
Deakin University (2021) Special conisderation policy, https://www.deakin.edu.au/students/studying/assessment-and-results/special-consideration
Department of Employment Education and Training (DEET). (1990). A fair chance for all: Higher education that’s within everyone’s reach. AGPS.
Dominelli, L. (2002). Feminist social work theory and practice. Palgrave.
El-Khoury Antonios, E. (2019). The placement experience of Western Sydney University social work students with physical disabilities [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Western Sydney University.
Epstein, S.B., Hosken, N., & Vassos, S. (In press). A pedagogy of our own: Feminist
social work in the academy in Cocker, C., & T., Hafford-Letchfield (Eds.), Rethinking Feminist Theories for Social Work Practice, Palgrave.
Evans, S. (2010). Becoming “somebody”: Examining class and gender through higher education. In Y. Taylor (Ed.), Classed intersections: Spaces, selves, knowledges (pp. 53–72). Ashgate Publishing.
Ferrant, G., Pesando, L. M., & Nowacka, K. (2014). Unpaid care work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes. Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE, 5. https://www.oecd.org/dev/development-gender/Unpaid_care_work.pdf
Ferree, M. M., & Zippel, K. (2015). Gender equality in the age of academic capitalism: Cassandra and Pollyanna interpret university restructuring. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society. doi:10.1093/sp/jxv039
Foucault, M. (1972). The discourse on language in the archaeology of knowledge. (R. Sawyer, Trans.). Pantheon.
Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977. Vintage.
Gair, S., & Baglow, L. (2018a). Australian social work students balancing study, work, and field placement: Seeing it like it is. Australian Social Work, 71(1), 46–57.
Gair, S., & Baglow, L. (2018b). “We barely survived”: Social work students’ mental health vulnerabilities and implications for educators, universities and the workforce. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 30(1), 32–44.
Gale, T., Molla, T., & Parker, S. (2017). The illusion of meritocracy and the audacity of elitism: Expanding the evaluative space in education. In S. Parker, K. Gulson, & T. Gale (Eds.), Policy and inequality in education.policy and inequality in education (pp. 7–21). Springer.
Goldingay, S., & Boddy, J. (2017). Preparing social work graduates for digital practice: Ethical pedagogies for effective learning. Australian Social Work, 70(2), 209–220.
Goldingay, S., Epstein, S., & Taylor, D. (2018). Simulating social work practice online with digital storytelling: Challenges and opportunities. Social Work Education, 37(6), 790–803.
Goldingay, S., Hodgson, D., Boddy, J., Nipperess, S., & Watts, L. (2020). Online and blended social work education: Outcomes, successes and risks. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 21(2), 5–7.
Gray, M., & Boddy, J. (2010). Making sense of the waves: Wipeout or still riding high? Affilia, 25(4), 368–389.
Grummell, B., Devine, D., & Lynch, K. (2009). The care‐less manager: Gender, care and new managerialism in higher education. Gender and Education, 21(2), 191–208.
Healy, K., & Lonne, B. (2010). The social work and human services workforce: Report from a national study of education, training and workforce needs. Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
Hodge, L., Oke, N., McIntyre, H., & Turner, S. (2020). Lengthy unpaid placements in social work: Exploring the impacts on student wellbeing. Social Work Education, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2020.1736542
Hosken, N. (2016). Social work, class and the structural violence of poverty. In B. Pease, S. Goldingay, N. Hosken, & S. Nipperess (Eds.), Doing Critical Social Work: Transformative Practices for Social Justice (pp. 104-119). Allen & Unwin.
Hosken, N. (2017). Exploring the organisation of social injustice in Australian social work education. University of Tasmania.
Hosken, N. (2018a). Practices of exclusion and injustices within social work education. Social Work Education, 37(7), 825–837.
Hosken, N. (2018b). Classism, poverty and the regulation of Australian social work education. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 20(2), 8.
Humphries, P., & Camilleri, P. (2002). Social work and technology: Challenges for social workers in practice: A case study. Australian Social Work, 55(4), 251–259.
Huppatz, K. (2010). Class and career choice: Motivations, aspirations, identity and mobility for women in paid caring work. Journal of Sociology, 46(2), 115–132.
International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), & International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW). (2014). The global agenda for social work and social development: Commitment to action.
Lambert, K. d., & Williams, T. (2006). In sickness and in need: The how and why of special consideration for students. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(1), 55–69.
Lorde, A. (1999). Age, race, class, and sex: Women redefining difference. [Paper presentation]. Copeland Colloquium, Amherst College, April 1980. In A. Kesselman, L. McNair, & N. Schniedewind (Eds.), Women: Images and realities, a multicultural anthology (pp. 361–366). Mayfield.
Maidment, J., & Crisp, B. R. (2011). The impact of emotions on practicum learning. Social Work Education, 30(04), 408–421.
Martin, E. (1990). Gender, demand and domain: The social work profession in South Australia, 1935-80 [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Melbourne.
McCarthy, M. (2011). We were at the beginning of everything. Crossroads, V(2), 35–44.
McNamee, S. J., & Miller, R. K. (2009). The meritocracy myth. Rowman & Littlefield.
Mendes, P. (2005). The history of social work in Australia: A critical literature review. Australian Social Work (58), 121–131.
Morley, C. (2009). Using critical reflection to improve feminist practice. In J. Allen, L. Briskman, & B. Pease (Eds.), Critical social work: Theories and practices for a socially just world (pp. 149–159). Allen & Unwin.
Morley, C., & Clarke, J. (2020). From crisis to opportunity? Innovations in Australian social work field education during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Social Work Education, 39(8), 1048–1057.
Morley, C., Macfarlane, S., & Ablett, P. (2017). The neoliberal colonisation of social work education: A critical analysis and practices for resistance. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 19(2), 25–40.
Naylor, R., & James, R. (2015). Systemic equity challenges: An overview of the role of Australian universities in student equity and social inclusion. In M. Shah, A. Bennett, & E. Southgate (Eds.), Widening higher education participation: A global perspective (pp. 1–12). Elsevier.
Oliaro, L., & Trotter, C. (2010). A comparison of on-campus and off-campus (or distance) social work education. Australian Social Work, 63(3), 329–344.
Orme, J. (2003). “It’s feminist because I say so!” Feminism, social work and critical practice in the UK. Qualitative Social Work, 2(2), 131–153.
Payne, M. (2014). Modern social work theory (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Pease, B. (2010). Undoing privilege: Unearned advantage in a divided world. Zed Books.
Peel, M. (2011). Charity, casework and the dramas of class in Melbourne, 1920–1940: “Feeling your position.” History Australia, 2(3), 83.81–83.15.
Shepard, M., & Dziengel, L. (2016). Feminist social work practice: Implications for the twenty-first century. In S. Wendt & N. Moulding (Eds.), Contemporary feminisms in social work practice (pp. 24–39). Routledge.
Smith, D. E. (1974). Women’s perspective as a radical critique of sociology. Sociological Inquiry, 44(1), 7–13.
Smith, D. E. (1979). A sociology for women. In J. Sherman & E. Torten Beck (Eds.), The prism of sex: Essays in the sociology of knowledge (pp. 135-87). University of Wisconsin Press.
Wendt, S., & Moulding, N. (Eds.). (2016). Contemporary feminisms in social work practice. Routledge.
Wilkins, R. (2015). The household, income and labour dynamics in Australia survey: Selected findings from waves 1 to 12. Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
Zimmermann, J., Kamenetsky, S. B., & Pongracic, S. (2015). Special consideration in post-secondary institutions: Trends at a Canadian university. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 45(4), 261–282.
Copyright (c) 2021 Copyright © Australian & New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.