Honouring our Social Work professionals
Today, on World Social Work Day, the Western Cape Department of Social Development (WCDSD) wishes to acknowledge the social work professionals across the province and country, who are changing lives for the better every day.
The WCDSD employs 748 social workers, 250 social auxiliary workers, and 158 social work professionals on various levels.
For everyone in the service, whether in government, NGO or the private sector, from social workers, to auxiliary workers, to supervisors, and probation officers… today we celebrate you!
On this day, in which South Africans also observe Human Rights Day, we seek to highlight the achievements of social work, raise the visibility of social services, and defend social justice and human rights. This year’s theme is “Respecting diversity through joint social action.”
“It is only through a whole-of-society approach, ‘joint social action,’ that we can tackle social ills effectively. No one sector, or group, can do it on its own. Social workers – and our NGO partners – are the backbone of the DSD, the ones who often put their lives at risk to effect change in communities. But they cannot do this alone, they require support from citizens, especially where violence and crime are rife,” says Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.
Eunice Ferndale, who has been a social worker since 1979, agrees with this joint approach.
Ferndale handles ministerial enquiries in Minister Fernandez’s office: “My message to other social workers is to realize the importance of community consultation, involvement and engaging in partnerships whenever possible. There is protection, motivation, and a collective overcoming of challenges when we pool our collective knowledge, experiences, and expertise together. We represent a profession that is critically needed to spearhead the vital changes required to overcome the current challenges faced within our country.”
The WCDSD is on the coalface of these challenges, with social service professionals experiencing an increased need for their services.
For Tiffany Manuel, a social worker assisting gender-based violence victims in Uniondale, the challenges she experienced as a child motivated her to help others: “I grew up in a community where social issues like domestic violence and substance abuse was present and throughout the years it became worse. My mother protected us the best way she could and to this day I can only be thankful. But I still saw what was going on around me and families suffering due to substance abuse, domestic violence, and unemployment. I always wondered how I can help others.”
There are social service professionals in other government departments besides the Department of Social Development. Social workers in the health sector form part of the multi-disciplinary teams that intervene to address non-medical factors which influence the health outcomes for children.
Vuyolwetu Dlwati, social work supervisor at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, has been serving patients at the hospital for just over 14 years. “What I love most is seeing real change in a child’s life - knowing that the actions of our healthcare workers have bettered a child’s life. I recall a case of a child who received a poor prognosis. His mother was at the time unemployed and struggling financially. Thankfully the child recovered, and his mother went on to become a catalyst for change in her community and is now helping other families who are struggling with the same issues. Not only did she turn her life around, but she is also actively helping others do the same. That is real change and that is what we strive for.”
Over R61 million is being allocated in the 2023/24 financial year for priority posts in the Provincial Department of Social Development which includes the appointment of social service professionals and posts at secure care facilities. This is over and above the WCDSD’s existing allocation for social service professionals.
In her budget speech last week, Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, announced that an additional 247 additional social workers, auxiliary social workers, supervisors, and administrative support staff are being appointed to stabilise the welfare and child protection system.
Spokesperson to MEC Sharna Fernandez
Department of Social Development
Tel: 084 775 2975