1st National Convention of Social Workers
40th Annual General Meeting
@ Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya
Saturday 18th May 2013
MASW celebrated its 40th Anniversary by organising its 1st National Convention of Social Workers to promote the World Social Work Day theme of 2013 – Promoting Social and Economic Equalities. The Convention was held on Saturday 18th May 2013 followed by a buffet lunch and the 40th Annual General Meeting at Armada Hotel, Petaling Jaya. A total of 86 members and guests came for the Convention, officially opened by Dato’ Norani binti Haji Mohd Hashim, Director-General of the Department of Social Welfare, and a Life Member of MASW herself.
Mr. Teoh Ai Hua as President of MASW wished members a Happy 40th Anniversary and acknowledged in his Welcome Address the 40 Years of Passion and commitment of past and present Executive Committees as well as the members and supporters of MASW who continue to drive the Association forward. While MASW has achieved significant milestones in the past 40 years, he reminded everyone that their continuing support and efforts are needed to prepare for the imminent regulation of practice, amongst a long list of short term and long term future plans.
Dato’ Norani touched on her Department’s on-going efforts to enhance the quality of social welfare services through administrative re-structuring, reviewing of policies, formulation of legislation, adoption of new approaches and new programmes and developing human resource to provide competent practice. She linked current efforts to establish National Competency Standards and the enactment of a Social Workers Bill to regulate practice as a strategy to promote social and economic equalities for target groups.
The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. Christopher Hodshire from the University of Michigan, USA and currently a Visiting Lecturer at Science University of Malaysia in Penang. He provided an international perspective on the theme while four local speakers presented papers on Promoting Social and Economic Equalities in four specific areas of social work practice. Dr. Hodshire shared his views on how social justice promotes human growth physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, etc., and how participative and distributive justice contributes to economic harmony. An inspiring and captivating example of social justice was the first free high school programme offered in 1858 by the Kalamazoo Public School in Michigan which went on to offer college/university scholarships to all its graduates, and in a rippling effect, impacted affirmatively on literacy rates, employment, housing, businesses and welfare of the people. He also presented some alarming global facts and figures of world poverty, child mortality and illiteracy, and how the wealth of the seven richest people in the world could free 41 countries from poverty!
Associate Professor Dr Azlinda Azman then chaired the panel presentations of four invited speakers. Ms Maya Fachrani Faisal, Social Policy Specialist from UNICEF Malaysia highlighted some statistical data on social issues in Malaysia linking to child protection concerns. She also presented indicators for child wellbeing where social workers could further promote social and economic equalities for children in Malaysia. Dr. Farah Nini binti Dusuki, a law lecturer from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur expounded on the need for the local juvenile justice system to move towards a more protective and reformative approach to uphold children’s rights as ratified under the United Nations’ Convention on Rights of the Child. She emphasised that punishment is not the statutory purpose of a social worker’s role, and advocated that the utility of the law must be based on the best interests of the child.
Associate Professor Siti Hawa binti Ali, Senior Social Work Lecturer at the School of Health Sciences, Science University of Malaysia, Kelantan Campus delivered a strong message on how inequalities and inequities still exist in accessibility to and delivery of quality health and medical care in Malaysia. She was especially concerned about the capacity and capability of medical social workers in public and teaching hospitals to deliver competency based services. She stressed on the need for medical social workers to be more visible and audible in advocating for patients’ rights to affordable, accessible, effective and efficient medical treatment and health care.
Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria, Principal Research Fellow from the Institute of Ethnic Studies, National University of Malaysia, Bangi provided case studies of communities or villages which are being marginalised or disadvantaged due to factors such as economics, politics, social class and geographical access. Such situations open up opportunities for social workers to play pivotal roles in advocating for social and economic equalities through the development of social policies, local governance, integration of services, and promotion of civil and political rights. However social workers in Malaysia lack adequate training and confidence in this arena of practice which is an issue for the profession and the Association to address.
The Convention was closed following constructive and positive comments from the participants who requested for more of such events.
Four pioneer social workers, two of them past presidents of MASW, and members were invited to cut the anniversary cake and proceeded to enjoy a buffet lunch.
MASW members returned to the meeting table after lunch for the 40th AGM during which a new Executive Committee was elected for the term 2013/2015, as listed here