Racism still exists in social work today – we need more Black faces in the profession | Jacynta Krakouer

Australian academic institutions are full of white faces in black spaces today, and social work is no exception

Social work has a fraught relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Its origins in Australia stem from religious organisations such as the Sisters of Charitywhich was founded by Mary Aikenhead in Ireland. These charitable sisters were not professionally trained. Instead, they were religious, middle class, white ‘do-gooder’ women who often swooped in as saviours for the poor.

In Australia, we maintained the dichotomy between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor’ in social work. Those who ‘looked after’ their own welfare were considered deserving of charitable assistance. Those who did not, were considered undeserving of any help and turned away by charitable organisations.

Related: Some say a voice to parliament is toothless. But together our voices are powerful | Megan Davis

The solution is not just to open the door and let people in – we still need white people to step aside and make space for Black peoples

Related: Three-quarters of Australians biased against Indigenous Australians, study finds

Jacynta Krakouer (BSc, MSW, MSP) is a Mineng Noongar social work academic who lives and works on Wurundjeri country in Naarm and is based in the Department of Social Work at the University of Melbourne. She tweets at @JacyntaKrakouer

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Category: Social Work