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Tales Of Social Work In Malaysia - RAYMUND N. C. JAGAN

I served in Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat from 1985 – 2013. I served as Psychology Officer / Counsellor from 2006 till 2013. Prior to this I was a caseworker in a probation school for juvenile offenders, and in the field service for the elderly. I retired in 2013 and my last position was head of the Counselling and Psychology Division of the KL office. 

      

I managed, supervised and conducted counselling and guidance services for the department’s clients which include children, the poor, the elderly, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking, and individuals and families facing daily life challenges. 


My passion has always been working on issues related to children. When the ministry introduced the National Child Protection Policy in 2009, the counselling division I headed immediately implemented child protection policies (CPPs) in all the institutions under JKM Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.


We came up with a protocol to get all institutional staff to be involved in developing their respective policies and later in the annual review process of the implemented policies. The purpose of the protocol was to help develop a sense of ownership and commitment, which is crucial in ensuring compliance.


Since then, and since my retirement too, I have been involved in promoting the implementing of CPPs in residential homes and services for children. Currently I am in the team implementing the CPP of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.


The shortcoming in this area of work is that the government has not made it mandatory for residential homes to have their CPPs, they are only encouraged to do so. I have been advocating for mandatory CPPs and strict enforcement of Section 35 of the Child Act.


This will go a long way to protect children in residential homes from abuse or neglect. There is also an urgent need to introduce and enforce vulnerable adult protection policies in residential homes for adults with disabilities and the elderly.

       

 A section of the Child Act that needs widespread public awareness is Section 16 – protection of informer identity. Awareness of child maltreatment is not an issue, there are media reports almost everyday on this.          


It is the fear of reprisal that discourages people from informing the authorities. The public need to know that their identity will be protected if they notify the authorities on possible child maltreatment. This will help increase notifications and get the authorities involved.


Another area of work that I am involved in is media literacy in the context of child protection. Since 2013 I have been conducting media literacy workshops to create awareness on the psychological impact and dangers related to the use of modern media technology. 


A new area of interest that I have been advocating on is the impact of nutrition on mental health, which in turn impacts social outcomes. This new field called nutritional psychiatry has important implications for social work practice.


I have been doing presentations titled Nutritional Literacy and Mental Health. My interest also stems from being a member of the Board of Visitors, The Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Selayang Hospital. 


The most important lesson I have learnt through the years is that social work is serious business. It is not the place for the untrained and those without the required life values to be in this profession.


I am a lecturer in the social work programme at the Methodist College Kuala Lumpur. My teaching experience has convinced me that those in the helping professions require a strong knowledge base, to not only provide effective services, but also importantly not to cause harm to their clients.


Social work is not for the faint-hearted as there will be situations requiring moral courage to advocate difficult positions. It is very important that the Social Work Profession Bill be tabled this year as promised by the government. There is an urgent need to regulate the social work profession through registration and certification, and to ensure compliance to the standard practices of social work education.


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