Lindiwe Zulu pays special tribute to social workers serving nation

Devdiscourse News Desk | Pretoria | Updated: 22-03-2023 15:21 IST | Created: 22-03-2023 15:21 IST
Lindiwe Zulu pays special tribute to social workers serving nation
Image Credit: Twitter(@the_dti)
  • Country:
  • South Africa

Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, has joined the international community and partners across the globe to celebrate World Social Work Day.

Zulu paid a special tribute and extended her best wishes to all social workers serving in various capacities across the nation for their immeasurable contribution, dedication and commitment towards the call to selfless service.

This as World Social Work Day was commemorated on Tuesday, 21 March 2023, a key day in the year when social workers worldwide stand together to advance a common message globally.

It also recognises and highlights their contribution to the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities across the globe.

“Social workers render services to some of the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society because social work is a human rights-based profession aimed at improving the well-being of individuals, families and communities,” she said in a statement.

“In South Africa, this day coincides with the celebration of Human Rights Month, which acknowledges the historical link between the social work profession, human rights and social justice.”

Social workers are employed in a variety of settings to offer psychosocial support services and implement developmental programmes that are designed to protect and assist the most vulnerable groups in society.

These include women, children in need of care and support, children in conflict with the law, youth, the elderly, people living with disabilities and those with mental health issues, survivors of gender-based violence and recovering substance users, amongst others.

Social workers, according to the department, are also at the forefront of government’s response to disasters as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent flood disasters in some parts of the country.

“While we celebrate social workers, we also recognise the challenges of social work and the need to support our social workers in the public service and NGO sector for the crucial work they do in the life of our nation.”

The Minister has described social work as a “highly demanding job” as these professionals often work in very challenging environments that put their safety on the line.

Meeting the demand

She said as early as 2003, social work was declared a scarce skill and critical profession.

Citing the National Development Plan (NDP), the Minister said the country needs 55 000 social workers by 2030.

“For this reason, we have been working around the clock with sector departments to absorb the current pool of unemployed social workers to meet the growing demand for appropriate social services,” she added. 

There are currently about 22 000 social workers employed in the public service, while government is working on a plan to increase the number to 31 744 at an estimated cost of R9 billion by 2030.

As part of ongoing interim measures, the department said, it maintains a database of unemployed graduates, which links them with existing job opportunities.

In addition, the department is working jointly with sector government departments and entities on a sector strategy to guide government departments on how to employ social service professionals in the public service.

The strategy proposes a permanent solution to employ 29 837 social service professionals, ranging from social workers, social auxiliary workers, and child and youth care workers to community development practitioners.

This, according to the department, will also contribute meaningfully to the implementation of national priorities such as the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide and the National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs.

“On this day, we wish to remember and pay a special tribute to social workers, past and present, who sacrificed their lives in service for others. We pay a special tribute to the late Mama Winnie Mandela, the first black social worker whose activism contributed to the improvement of the social work profession in South Africa,” Zulu added.

(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)

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