The Malaysian Association of Social Workers (MASW) celebrated World Social Work Day 2010 on Tuesday, 16th March 2010, in solidarity with several other national associations and the International Federation of Social Workers. MASW and the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) jointly organised an exhibition and public forum on the local theme “Competency in Promoting Human Rights”, in line with the international theme of “Making Human Rights Real - the Social Work Agenda”.
More than 250 people - social workers, welfare officers, counsellors, staff and voluntary workers from non-profit organisations, university students and members of the public - came to view exhibits put up by MASW, DSW, Malaysian Mental Health Association, Malaysian Care and others. The Director General of DSW, Dato’ Meme Zainal Rashid officiated the event.
Dato’ Dr Denison Jayasooria, Associate Professor Siti Hawa Ali, Mdm Lai Poh Guat and Mrs Amy Bala were speakers for the public forum, representing social workers from human rights organisation, social work education programme, DSW and MASW. The Chairperson Puan Rashidah Abdullah is a social work activist in women’s rights. The topics touched on the dilemma faced by social workers in situations where the human rights language is not popular with the government of the day, between professional calling and personal survival, and international pressure to work along with the various conventions on human rights.
Speakers also touched on local policies, programmes and services responding to rights of citizens, and emphasis on human rights in social work education. The objectives of the forum were to reinforce awareness and understanding of human rights in social work practice among social work and social development personnel, and to demonstrate to the public how social workers have always placed human rights in the forefront of their services to clients and community. The whole event was well received and has generated keen interest in follow-up activities related to human rights issues.
It was also well covered by the press in the New Straits Times and the Star, and a live TV interview with MASW President, Teoh Ai Hua, and 1 of the speakers, Ms Lai Poh Guat, DeputyDirector-General of DSW for Planning and Development, on ASTRO AWANI.