Advancing Pacific social work Advancing Pacific social work symposium

The Advancing Pacific Social Work Symposium is the first Pacific region-wide gathering specifically to address Pacific social work. Indigenous knowledge is recognised in the global definition of social work, yet culturally relevant social work education in the Pacific has had limited attention.

This symposium is a forum for social work educators, policy makers and practitioners from across the Pacific region to share practices and perspectives for developing social work education and practice. The event is supported by the International Association of Schools of Social Work.

Pacific social work educators and researchers are invited to be part of the Collaborative Inquiry group to work on developing research projects of mutual interest. The group will meet the day after the symposium.

Date and venue

Symposium date: Tuesday, 28 March 2017, 8.30am to 4.30pm

Symposium venue: Australia Pacific Lecture Theatre, University of the South Pacific, Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji Islands


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A registration fee of FJD$10 is payable on the day.

Symposium programme



8.30am Registration
9.00am Welcome and opening remarks
9.15am Reflection on 30 years of Pacific social work education: Where we have been, where we are, what we have learnt and what the future holds
9.45am Panel session 1: Indigenous knowledge in Pacific social work
10.30am Morning tea and breakout groups
11.15am Panel session 2: Minimum standards for Pacific social work
12.00pm Lunch
1.00pm Panel session 3: Fieldwork in Pacific social work
1.45pm Panel session 4: Research in Pacific social work
2.30pm Breakout groups
3.15pm Afternoon tea
3.30pm Breakout key points reported back
4.00pm Closing plenary
4.30pm Finish

Panel session overviews

Panel session 1: Indigenous knowledge in Pacific social work

Indigenous knowledge in Pacific social work

Indigenous knowledge ought to be a basis for Pacific social work education curriculum and pedagogy. The Pacific includes a great deal of language and cultural diversity, and the impacts of post-colonialism and globalisation amplify the need for social development which is relevant to Pacific contexts.

This panel will critically discuss indigenous Pacific knowledge as frameworks and foundations for Pacific social work education and practice. Panelists examine the challenges and prospects of building social work education on Pacific indigenous knowledge given local, regional and global contexts and developments.

Panel session 2: Minimum standards for Pacific social work

Minimum standards for Pacific social work

Social and community work in the Pacific is a developing profession in most of the island countries. There have been varying educational and training programmes. Graduates of these programmes are using the title of social worker, community worker and counsellor, whereas in metropolitan countries of the West these are competing for separate professional status.

The recent Joint Amplification of the Global Definition for Asia Pacific Region Approved by the General Body Meeting of APASWE on June 28 2016, Seoul, Korea emphasizes social protection, faith, spirituality and/or religion in people’s lives, diversity and peaceful negotiation, indigenous and local knowledge and practices alongside critical and research-based practice/practice-based research approaches to social work practice and sustainable social work and social development practices in the preservation our environment as relevant fields of practice for professional social and community work.

This panel will address the question of what then should be the core personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities, and role-specific and generic competencies, that qualify people to be recognised and registered as professional social and community workers in the Pacific?

Panel session 3: Field education in the Pacific

Field education in the Pacific

Supporting field education opportunities to enhance social work teaching and learning is vital to developing an emerging professional practitioner. Part of this commitment includes working collaboratively with local agencies and stakeholders to ensure positive outcomes.

This panel will profile the experience of field educators and field supervisors in supporting students in Pacific social work, reflecting on models of good practice across the Pacific. Incorporation of Pacific perspectives as valid practice models that enhance effective engagement will be discussed, promoting the contemporary development of Pacific social work and education.

Panel session 4: Research in Pacific social work

Research in Pacific social work

Social work research is generally underpinned by a focus to appropriately apply findings and recommendations in a practical manner. Such outputs and outcomes may positively influence social policy, models of service provision and delivery, and the work undertaken with individuals and families. However, for social work research to truly resonate with its intended objectives, it is important that appropriate methodologies and methods are utilised.

Panelists will discuss the importance of creating a shared approach in engaging with participants, while also promoting Pacific epistemologies and ontologies in creating relevance and practical application.

Symposium contacts

For more information contact:

  • Dr Tracie Mafile’o | School of Social Work, Massey University, New Zealand
    Phone: +64 6 9518027
  • Dr Jioji Ravulo | School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Australia,
    Phone: +612 9772 6482
  • Dr Donald Bruce Yeates | School of Social Sciences, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji,
    Phone: +679 323 2368

Symposium partners

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