Development of the Profession: National and International Contributions
Staff contribute to developing the profession nationally and internationally. Nationally, Professor Lena Dominelli has been working with colleagues in the Research Committee of the Joint Universities Council, Social Work Education Committee (JUC-SWEC) to develop a national research strategy for social work, including arguing for more research monies for social work research and seeking wider recognition of social work ethics and systems of governance in research. Helen Charnley has worked to develop practice in Mozambique. Simon Hackett is a leading expert on child sexual abuse.
Internationally, Professor Dominelli holds consultative status with the United Nations and contributes to curriculum developments in countries overseas, including those in Eastern Europe. Recently, she explored human rights initiatives in social work practice in Chile. Whilst there, she spoke to human rights activists, saw memorials testifying to the bravery of the people who fought for social justice in testing times, and visited Villa Grimaldi in Santiago and a cooperative in Paine.
The Paine cooperative was formed by surviving family members of 'The Disappeared' - the appellation Chileans give to people who were tortured and murdered by members of the Pinochet regime, but whose bodies were never found. The initiative was begun by social work academics, practitioners and students and shows how social work education can be used to help address intractable problems including grief and loss through innovative developments. In this particular project, social work students assisted in the creation of a memorial and murals that celebrate the life and achievements of lost loved ones, and through that, enable healing processes to begin - a life history book that can survive the elements and much handling. Facilitating social change at both personal and structural levels by looking for opportunities to improve education, employment and housing opportunities, key objectives of social work practice, are also demonstrated in this project.
Simon Hackett and Helen Charnley's particiption in an European collaborative project with Universities of Lubljana, Jvaskjla and Magdeburg facilitated greater understanding of common concerns and cultural differences in social work learning, teaching and research.
Helen Charnley's work in Mozambique on long term outcomes for children separated from their families in war focuses on analyses of partnerships between communities, government and international NGOs and contributes to the development of culturally competent practice in sitautions of conflict.
These opportunities provide lessons in transferable skills that can be used in local settings to enable people overcome adversity and find new was of moving forward. They can also be useful in contributing to the regeneration of the Durham region and securing improvement in the life circumstances of service users.