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Letter to the members from Chair of the IASW, Frank Browne

  • 23 May 2017

Dear Members, I write to you to update you following our IASW National Social Work Conference and AGM at the Radisson Hotel in Athlone on 12th of May.

Our CPD officer Cliona Murphy did as usual, a wonderful job in leading out on the preparations for the conference. The theme "Of Hearts and Minds: The Practice of Relationships" aimed to capture what lies at the heart of all good social work practice. As Erna O Connor said in her presentation, "as social workers we walk alongside people supporting them with their emotional needs", and assisting others to reconnect with their social world."

I am most grateful to Rory Truell, the Secretary-General of the International Federation of Social Workers, who kindly agreed to chair the conference and did a fantastic job facilitating the day.

Our guest speakers each in their own way captured an interesting perspective on our conference theme.

Gillian Ruch: Where have all the feelings gone? Understanding the Place of Emotions in Social Work PracticeStan Houston: Thinking Critically about the Person-in-Society: Towards a Model of Reflexivity in Social WorkErna O'Connor: Relationship-based Social Work - A 'Thirdspace' in Responding to Trauma

For those members unable to attend, IASW has arranged for the speakers' presentations have been downloaded to our website and all the speakers have agreed to develop their presentations as future articles for our journal.

I would like to thank those IASW members who presented in the afternoon.

Snapshots from Research and Practice which included;

Hardwired for connection: Is research-mindedness a sign of wellbeing? Nerilee Ceatha.Family welfare conferencing as a tool for partnership - Hannaleena Ahonen.The curious incidence of the empathic social worker in the night – reflective practice and Child to Parent Violence and Abuse - Declan Coogan.Voices from Practice: Narratives of Interrelated Factors Leading to Mutual Mistrust in Social Work Encounters with Asylum Seeking Families - Colletta Dalikeni.

Members then participated in a Café Style Roundtable discussion focussing on the themes

Reflective Practice ProfessionalVulnerability ProfessionalAutonomy and Decision-making

IASW is a limited company with a Board of Directors responsible for the decision making process within IASW. People give significantly of their time attending meetings, working on sub groups and keeping up to speed by reading all the relevant policies and reports. So I especially would like to thank those IASW Board Directors who are stepping down; Donal O'Malley and Billie Anne Johnson, both Donal and Billie Anne have given so much of their time to IASW and I know that they will continue to be active members, supporting IASW in many different ways in the future.

I am delighted to welcome the new members to our Board; Zoe Linnane and Conor Boksberger, two active IASW members who have so much to offer to the IASW Board.

The new Board for 2017/18 includes:

1. Frank Browne Chair·

2. Aine McGuirk Treasurer

3. John Brennan Vice Chair

4. Hilda Loughran

5. Ruth Murray

6. Elizabeth Hamilton

7. Anette O'Callaghan

8. Joe McCarthy

9. Zoe Linnane

10. Conor Boksberger

The final part of the day was our AGM. I would like to express my appreciation to those members who were willing to remain late on a Friday evening to attend.

I was delighted as the Chair of the Board to bestow an Honorary membership to Donal O'Malley our previous Chair & IASW Board Member since 2008, and Marie Therese Mulholland another former President & Board Member. Both Donal and Marie Therese have contributed so much to IASW over the years.

The AGM offered members an opportunity to debate motions and review the Annual Report and 2016 End of Year Audited Accounts.

John Meade of J. Meade & Co (auditors) gave a presentation on the IASW accounts. John discussed the financial deficit that the association has incurred each year since the formation of the Company Limited by Guarantee in 2012. IASW has taken robust action to address financial governance. However largely due to the additional administration cover that was required last year, IASW recorded a deficit of 17,192. Our accountant John advised that the association may run at a loss again in 2017 as administration costs will not decrease in 2017, therefore he advised that we must increase our income streams such as; increasing membership fees, developing a membership strategy to increase the number of members, increasing the price of CPD training for members and non-members, and increasing the number and cost of advertisements.

While some of the motions proposed by the Board were not passed, I would like to advise members that the Board will work closely with the Council, all the IASW special interest groups and members to communicate effectively our strategy and aims for IASW and to work closely together in achieving our common goals.

MOTIONS Passed at our 2017 AGM

MOTION IASW calls upon the Government to fund and legislate for a statutory social work service for vulnerable adults, including those with a mental health, intellectual or a physical disability. HSE National Safeguarding Office defines a vulnerable person as; "an adult who may be restricted in capacity to guard him or herself against harm or exploitation or to report such harm or exploitation"

MOTION Resolution: That the Constitution be approved and adopted as the new Constitution of the Company in substitution and to the exclusion of all existing Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Explanation: The company's name was automatically changed on 1st December 2016. This did not include updating the company's name on its existing Memorandum and Articles of Association.

MOTION Social Workers in Foster Care Special Interest Group

That this association calls on the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs to establish a Working Party to review Foster Care provision and progress the further development of the service for children in care, based on the recommendations of the SWIFC/IASW discussion document – "Foster Care: Envisioning the Future" published in March 2017

I would sincerely like to thank you for continuing to being a member of IASW and for your contribution no matter how big or small. IASW is a community of social workers who since 1971 have played an important role, in not only promoting the role of social work and the professional development of our members but most importantly influencing policy and practice so as to improve the lives of all the individuals and families with whom we work with each day.

I would ask you as members to please encourage IASW membership with your social work colleagues. You might consider raising the importance of IASW membership at your team meetings or on a one to one at a tea or coffee break. The Board and I would be happy to support you in this endeavour, so please contact the office as required.

Finally as Chair of IASW I carry along with the Board and Council the important baton of promoting excellence in practice and striving for quality services for those we work with. I have no doubt that there will always be social workers willing and able to take the baton from us when the time comes. Altruism is alive and well within our profession and we are most definitely stronger together.

Kind regards,

Frank Browne

Chair IASW

The National Social Work Organisation of Ireland

T/A Irish Association of Social Workers