The major theme of the conference is Promoting healthy human relationships. This theme is aligned with the fourth theme of the Global Agenda for Social Work, viz. Promoting the importance of human relationships. The profession of social work has always championed the centrality of human relationships, being less interested in the internet functioning of people and more interested in their interpersonal functioning, within broader social structures and forces.
In contemporary South Africa, human relationships are under considerable threat. Despite the 1994 transformation to an inclusive and human-rights-based democracy, human relations remain strained. This particularly evident in the racial relations between black and white South Africans, but also in the relations between South African and citizens of other countries in Africa, between women and men and between rich and poor. The ideals of Ubuntu – that we recognize and cherish the full humanity of all other people, as part of a large family – are not fully realized in daily life.
Because of its focus on interpersonal relations, systems theory and the ecological perspective, as well as its growing commitment to African theory, South African social work is – or should be – ideally positioned to promote healthy human relationships. This should be done at the level of couples, families and small groups, but also at the larger level of communities, as well as between sociodemographic groups that presently are struggling with recognize and embody respect for the full humanities of ‘the other’.
This conference draws together South African social work educators, as well as researchers, policy makers, managers, practitioners and people from social service professions and disciplines across South Africa and beyond. Social work students will be specifically invited and assisted to participate, to give voice to their views on social work education.
The main theme and the sub-themes of the conference will provide delegates with key opportunities to network and deliberate around a range of issues, pertinent to social work education that fosters the knowledge and skills to promote healthy human relationships and practice (particularly concerning the construction of policy, programme and practice that champions human rights and relationships).
We welcome you to this ASASWEI conference and invite you to submit an abstract to present a paper or poster. Participate with us in what is sure to be a vibrant and challenging conversation.
Prof Adrian D. van Breda Prof Ndangwa Noyoo
President: ASASWEI Head of Department: University of Cape Town