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Critical Enquiry Reflection Sheet Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 3627 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The moment of learning that has grabbed my attention in this supervision session is that I need to research and identify my practice framework when working bi-culturally with tangata whenua and cross-culturally.

During my sixth supervision session my supervisor assessed me using the second direct practice observation relating to my second learning outcome”to demonstrate competency when working with young people cross-culturally”. This assessment led to discussions around my practice cross-culturally as I have been closely working with young people and their families who are of a different culture from my own. Also in my practice at the alterative education centre where I am placed two days a week I am the only pakeha person there. My supervisor stated in the assessment that “Working in the school setting as the only female and pakeha person, has enabled her to identify the differences in culture but also helped her to work cross-culturally with other staff and clients. Family visitation has also helped her to identify areas that need more training in”.

When my supervisor asked me to identify how I work bi-culturally with tangata whenua and cross-culturally with clients I was unable to articulate easily how I practice in this setting. My response was that in the alternative education setting because I am the only pakeha person there, I work biculturally and cross-culturally:

By respecting the Maori culture of the centre

Removing my shoes when I enter

I have had to learn the words in order to participate in the morning waiata and karakia

I eat my lunch with the young men and the other tutors each day as sharing food together is part of the Maori culture

Following on from this I have stated that during home visits with clients and their families I respect the different cultures; by removing my shoes and accepting food and beverages from cultures where the sharing of food is important.

These responses were very vague and did not give a clear answer as to how I practice bi-culturally and cross-culturally. I am aware that I have been trained at university to practice from a bi-cultural and multi-cultural perspective but I have found it hard to articulate how I do this. As my supervisor has noted I have identified through this supervision session that I need to critically reflect on my practice cross-culturally and identify the areas that I need more training in order to become a competent bi-cultural and cross-cultural practitioner. For the benefit of cross-cultural practice and working with tangata whenua I as a social worker need to recognise that:

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“As a professional helper, one can feel uneasy when challenged by striking difference is the first step towards self-reflection. This attitude has a better chance of leading to genuine accommodation of the client than pretending to be politically correct. The creation of collegial support structures and the cultivation of a climate of trust and open sharing within the service setting might encourage this attitude, to be affective in cross-cultural practice” (Tsang &George, 1998, p.87).

Looking backward

The assumptions and biases that are present in this moment of learning is my own cultural awareness;

In Tatum (2000) she discuses the concept of identity and what it means for the individual and how the roles of the dominant over the subordinate can influence a persons view of themselves:

This “looking glass self” is not a flat one-dimensional reflection, but multidimensional. How one’s identity is experienced will be mediated by dimensions of one self: male or female; young or old, wealthy or poor, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or heterosexual; able-bodied or with disabilities: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or atheist… (Tatum, 2000).

The role and the devaluation associated with it will differ in relation to the socio-cultural context that the subordinate person/s and the dominant groups are part of (Wolfensberger, 1972, as cited in (Wills, 2008b).

Discourses are systemic ways of talking, discussing something of significance. They are the consequence of a combination of social, political even economic factors and often have ‘voices of authority’. Discourses are often informed by beliefs, ideas and understandings that are implicit; taken for granted…even ideological…Some forms of discourse are legitimated and validated – but still one cannot be confident, and assume that such discourses have become established as a result of well-rationalised, carefully researched, developed and rigorous argument/debate (Wills, 2008a).

Looking inward

Looking outward

Looking forward

I identify to the families that although I am from a different culture to them I have been university trained to work cross-culturally and I am happy to enter into discussions around what this means for our social work relation

Question construction 300


In defining competence one must also consider the meaning of culture. “Essentially, culture is understood to relate to some shared elements which connect people in a common way of experiencing and seeing the world. These perceptions of the world guide day-to-day living, influence how decisions are made and by whom, and determine what is perceived to be appropriate and inappropriate behaviour within any given context” (Connolly, Crichton-Hill &Ward, 2005 p.17, as cited in SWRB, 2007, p.5)

To work with Maori clients the social worker must competently understand what Te Ao Maori means, the same goes with working with other cultural and ethnic groups. Using Tsang and George’s conceptual framework of attitude knowledge and skills the SWRB created its competence standards of practice. To understand what competent practice for Maori and other cultural and ethnic groups means for social workers in New Zealand I will be critically discussing in this essay; what the ANZASW’s standards of practice are that inform competence and what it means for social work practice in New Zealand, I will identify and describe the constituent elements of Te Ao Maori – the Maori world view, critically examine Tsang and Georges conceptual framework and apply their framework to an aspect of Te Ao Maori in a practice setting.

Members of the ANZASW are accountable to the association and expected to abide by their policies and procedures, competent social work practice being one of them, the following ten standards for social work practice in Aotearoa New Zealand were set and ratified by the National Executive of NZASW (now ANZASW) in June 1990:

The social worker establishes an appropriate and purposeful working relationship with clients taking into account individual differences and the cultural and social context of the client’s situation.

The social worker acts to secure the client’s participation in the whole process of the working relationship with them.

The social worker’s practice assists clients to gain control over her/his own circumstances.

The social worker has knowledge about social work methods, social policy, social services, resources and opportunities.

In working with clients, the social worker is aware of and uses her/his own personal attributes appropriately.

The social worker only works where systems of accountability are in place in respect of his/her agency, clients and the social work profession.

The social worker constantly works to make the organisation and systems, which are part of the social work effort, responsive to the needs of those who use them.

The social worker acts to ensure the client’s access to the Code of Ethics and objects of the New Zealand Association of Social Workers.

The social worker uses membership of the New Zealand Association of Social Workers to influence and reinforce competent social practice.

The social worker uses membership of the New Zealand Association of Social Workers to influence and reinforce competent practice (NZASW, 1993).

To illustrate how these standards for practice work in professional social work practice I will select one standard and show how two aspects of the standard apply. For standard four: the social worker has knowledge about social work methods, social policy and social services, this standard can be shown in practice with how Child, Youth and Family services work within a bicultural framework and the Treaty of Waitangi:

Child, Youth and Family acknowledges its duties and obligations to the tangata whenua as a Crown partner to New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi. We are committed to ensuring that services we deliver and purchase are fully responsive to the needs and aspirations of Maori, and that our actions are consistent with the Principles for Crown Action on the Treaty of Waitangi. Our commitment is reflected in a key result area – improved outcomes for Maori, the alliances and partnerships we have built and continue to foster with iwi and Maori social services groups and communities, our human resource policies, and in our work programme (especially the development and implementation of a strategy for improving outcomes for Maori children, young people and their families) (CYF, 2008).

In relation to the social policy part of this standard the CYF’s social workers are aware of the legislations of Aotearoa New Zealand and how other aspects of the law:

Child, Youth and Family’s statutory role is defined by the following legislation:

The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989

The Adoption Act 1955

The Adult Adoption Information Act 1985

The Adoption (Inter-country) Act 1997(CYF, 2008).

Child, Youth and Family services are an excellent example of how an agency has set guidelines and policies around the standards set out by the SWRB and ANZASW to implement competent practice by their social workers.

In the next part of this essay I will identify and describe the constituent elements of Te Ao Maori – the Maori world view. To understand the Maori world view we must examine what are the Maori behaviour and conduct in social relationships or korero tawhito are; then what the Maori social structures of whanau, hapu, iwi mean and what the three classes of Maori society are, and what mana and tapu mean for Maori people who are the tangata whenua of Aotearoa. Korero tawhito are they ways in which Maori behave and conduct themselves in social relationships:

Korero tawhito reflected the thought concepts, philosophies, ideals, norms and underlying values of Maori society… The values represent ideals, which were not necessarily achievable but something to aspire to (Ministry of Justice, 2001, p.1).

These underlying values of Maori society are the ways in which Maori people socially interact with each other. The next step in understanding what the Maori world view is, is to understand Maori social structures:

The Maori social structure was based on decent, seniority and the kinship groupings. Maori recognised four kin groups:

Whanau – the basic unit of Maori society into which an individual was born and socialised.

Hapu – the basic political init within Maori society, concerned with ordinary social and economic affairs and making basic day-to-day decisions.

Iwi – the largest independent, politico-economic unit in Maori society. An iwi would be identified by its territorial boundaries, which were of great social, cultural and economic importance (Ministry of Justice, 2001, p.2).

The kin group a person belongs to affects their world view because it influences their place within society. The fundamental concepts of mana and tapu are those which govern the framework of Maori society:

Mana was inherited at birth, and the more senior the descent of a person, the greater the mana. Tapu invariably accompanied mana. The more prestigious the event, person or object, the more it was surrounded by the protection of tapu. The complex notions of mana and tapu reflect the ideals and values of social control and responsibility. The analysis of mana endeavours to identify the role of mana in relation to responsibility, leadership and birthright. The examination of tapu illustrated how tapu operated and affected the everyday lives of Maori (Ministry of Justice, 2001, p.6).

In examining the elements of Te Ao Maori I have examine the different concepts of Maori behaviour and conduct korero tawhito, the Maori social structures of kin and class and what mana and tapu mean.

Theory 300


Identifies and is based upon beliefs and values of Pacific Islands culture.

Explains problems and concerns in a manner that is relevant to Pacific Islands understanding.

Uses Pacific Islands helping traditions and practices.

Incorporates a Pacific Islands understanding to change the process.

Can differentiate aspects of the behaviour which are associated with Pacific Islands cultural patterns from those resultant

in dominant palagi cultural interpretations.

Avoids cultural pathological stereotyping.

Encompass macro and micro levels of explanations and interventions.

Incorporates the experiences of the community and individuals in New Zealand Society.

Can guide the selection of appropriate knowledge and practice skills from other cultures.

(Adapted from Meemeduma, P. (1994). Cross cultural social work: New models for new practice, Advances in social work welfare education, Montash University.)

Ethics 300

Skills 300

The Social Work Registration Board of Aotearoa New Zealand released in 2007 a policy statement in regard to the competence of registered social workers to practise social work with Maori and different ethnic and cultural groups in New Zealand. The release of this document was to set the levels of competency that are needed for social workers to work effectively in a positive way to empower those who are disadvantaged by society.  As Mason Durie comments, cultural competence about the acquiring of skills to achieve a better understanding of members of other cultures (SWRB, 2007, p.5). To be competent when working with other cultures one must understand the differences and similarities between other cultures and know what is culturally appropriate and inappropriate; the social worker needs to respect the client’s culture and use recourses available to them to effectively work with the client to achieve the best possible outcome

Bicultural code of Ethics

In the next part of this essay I will critically examine Tsang and George’s (1998) – Integrated Conceptual Framework for Cross-cultural Practice of attitude, knowledge and skills. I will do this by describing the three elements and examining these elements by assessing their significance and importance in social work practice with mana whenua. To understand what the significance and importance of Tsang and George’s conceptual framework in relation to mana whenua we must first examine what mana whenua are:

Mana whenua(noun):territorial rights, power from the land – power associated with possession and occupation of tribal land. The tribe’s history and legends are based in the lands they have occupied over generations and the land provides the sustenance for the people and to provide hospitality for guests (Maori Dictionary, 2008).

Now we know what mana whenua means the next apart is to describe the three elements of the framework:

Attitude Commitment to justice and equity

Valuing difference

Other-directed: Openness to cultural difference

Self directed: Critical self-reflection

Knowledge Specific cultural content

Systemic context of culture

Acculturation and internalized culture

Dynamics of cross-cultural communication and understanding

Skills Management of own emotional response

Professional intervention within institutional contexts

Communication, engagement, and relationship skills

Specific change strategies (Tsang and George, 1998, p.84).

The concept of attitude relates to the social worker’s own behaviour and their use of self as a tool when working with clients, the concept of knowledge relates to the knowledge theories behind cross-cultural practice and knowledge learnt from a practitioners own experiences. The concept of skills relates to the practical aspect of working with clients. To use the element of attitude when working with mana whenua, one needs to be aware of their own limitations, lack of knowledge and understanding of other cultures:

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This awareness has both self-directed and other-directed implications. The other-directed expression of this awareness is an openness to cultural difference and a readiness to learn form a client. Such openness is based on acknowledgement and positive regard for the cultural differences that exist between the client and the practitioner, respect for client cultures, and readiness to accommodate alternative world views or ways of life. The self-directed expression of this awareness is a readiness to engage in self-reflection, including the examination of possible cultural biases, assumptions, values, and one’s emotional experience and comfort level when challenged with difference (Tsang and George, 1998, p.84).

For a social worker to be aware of their own limitations and lack of knowledge is the first step in establishing a working relationship with mana whenua, their own ability to acknowledge the differences and similarities between their own culture and their client’s culture is a huge component of their attitude when working with their clients. Supervision is needed in this context for the social worker to be able to discuss with others their own reflections and feelings associated when working cross-culturally, for personal and professional growth. Knowledge is the next element in which the cross-cultural practice framework discusses the four elements of knowledge:

We can identify four areas of cross-cultural knowledge. First is the knowledge of specific cultural content as captured by the cultural literacy model. In agreement with Dyche and Zayas (1995), it is probably not realistic to expect cros0cultural practitioners to be knowledgeable in a large number of cultural systems. It may be more practical for practitioners to focus on the other three kinds of knowledge: the systemic context of culture, acculturation and internalized culture, and the dynamics of cross-cultural communication and understanding. Consistent with an ecological perspective adopted by many social workers, cross-cultural clinical practice is understood within the broader systemic context of current structural inequalities, racial politics, histories of colonization, slavery, and other forms of racial oppression (Tsang and George, 1998, p.85).

For a worker to work effectively cross-culturally they must understand and have knowledge of other cultures, historically, ethnically, their value and belief systems, their customs and day-to-day living. To have a comprehensive understanding of a client’s total living and life experience a practitioner must have an appreciation of the effects of their socio-political systems. In this context in New Zealand it would be effective for social workers working with mana whenua to have knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi and what it means for Maori people and the political aspects that go with it. The final element of Skills in Tsang and George’s model related to the specific skills a social worker needs when working biculturally with the mana whenua and cross-culturally:

Social work skills are specific courses of action taken by practitioner to achieve positive changes needed by their clients … Appropriate attitude and knowledge in cross-cultural practice, therefore, must be translated into specific professional behaviour which addresses practitioner, client, institutional and contextual realities. A variety of skills have been recommended by authors in cross-cultural practice, covering professional behaviour within institutional contexts; communication skills, specific interviewing skills such as ethnographic interview, relationship-building skills, and change strategies (Tsang and George, 1998, p.85-86).

Practice skills can not be effective without the social worker having a sound understanding of knowledge and the appropriate attitude when working with mana whenua. Skills are the practical component on Tsang and George’s model, and when working with mana whenua the practitioner must use the appropriate skills from their knowledge base for their work to be effective. Their interactions with their clients are an important part of their role as a social worker. Mana whenua need social workers with the specialist cross-cultural skills. In this part of the essay I have examined Tsang and George’s model of attitude, knowledge and skills by describing the three elements and examining the elements by assessing their significance and importance in social work practice with mana whenua and other cultures.

Evidence 300


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