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‘Duty of care’ or ‘duty to care’: the responsibilisation of social work

Vreugdenhil, AJ ORCID: 0000-0003-4977-8158 2018 , '‘Duty of care’ or ‘duty to care’: the responsibilisation of social work', in B Pease and A Vreugdenhil and S Stanford (eds.), Critical Ethics of Care in Social Work: Transforming the Politics and Practices of Caring , Routledge, United Kingdom, pp. 38-48.

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Sometimes the smallest of things can lead to big questions. A passing commentfrom a colleague about social work being one of the ‘caring professions’ led toa conversation about the meaning of care in social work. Turning to the Code ofEthics (Australian Association of Social Workers [AASW], 2010) for guidance,I discovered that care (or caring) is only mentioned eight times in the 41-pagedocument, with another five mentions of ‘careful’. This surprised me, as I thoughtcare would feature more highly given that a key purpose of the Code is to “identifythe values and ethics which underpin ethical social work practice” (AASW,2010, p. 10). The first mention of care in the Code describes how social work“provides humane service, mindful of fulfilling duty of care, and duty to avoiddoing harm to others” (AASW, 2010, p. 12). This linking of ‘care’ with ‘duty’ wasrepeated throughout the Code with a focus on ‘duty of care’ or ‘taking due care’.This seemed to suggest that care, beyond a narrow sense of duty, might have littleplace in contemporary social work. I was not sure what to make of this, but I knewthat it warranted further investigation. This chapter is the result and explores theinterplay between the growing regulation of the social work profession and themeaning and practice of care in social work.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Vreugdenhil, AJ
Keywords: duty of care, social work
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Individual chapters, the authors

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