The Inaugural Royal Rehab Alex Ommanney Prize in Social Work was awarded to Emily James

The inaugural Royal Rehab Alex Ommanney Prize in social work being  awarded to Emily James by Stephen Lowndes, CEO Royal Rehab.

This prize was awarded to Emily in 2018. I didn’t post the news initially but realised recently a delayed post took nothing away from her success.

Emily won the prize with an essay addressing how her experience would influence her practice as a Social Worker. Her writing is honest and insightful so I have inserted some snippets of her prize winning submission to raise awareness of a social workers role.

Social Work – Emily’s First Point

Following my accident I suddenly became part of a minority group, a group with barriers and began to start hearing the word ‘no’ more often. ‘No you can’t have that’, ‘no you can’t do that’, ‘no you can’t go there’. I have belonged to the world of disability for a minute compared to others, nevertheless I am already frustrated at the discrimination and oppression I have experienced and witnessed. In 2015, 18.3% (4.3 million) of Australians reported having a disability and within that population almost one in twelve reported experiencing discrimination based on their disability (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016).”

Social Work – Emily’s Aim

In my future role as a social worker I want to work towards removing the ‘cannot’ and reducing the discrimination and oppression experienced by individuals with a disability.”

Social Work – Human Rights Model

Human services have greater emphasise on removing barriers to improve opportunities and access for all disabled individuals. This approach is known as a social or human rights model and is important because it prioritises societal change and empowers people with disabilities (PWD) to view themselves as citizens that face discrimination and not individuals that are sick and invalid (Shakespeare, 2014). Nevertheless discrimination and oppression remain and disabled individuals still experience inequalities in health, education and employment.”

Social Work – Client Driven

My belief remains in the importance of social inclusion policies and anti-oppressive practice that are client driven.”

Social Work – Moving Forward

Emily’s thoughts progress: “I must keep in mind that despite the work of disability activists, many of whom are themselves disabled, the Human Rights Model has been criticised for failing to consider the individual’s experience. Therefore, it is imperative that in utilising this approach I endeavour to include PWDs in the discussions around how the social and economic structures of their environment influence their experiences.”

Social Work – Emily’s Future

In the future as a social worker involved in rehabilitation, I will need to take a holistic approach to fully understanding the client’s current position and experience of oppression. Only then can I work in collaboration with the client to identify where the inequality they are experiencing stems from and what supports are available to them in order to meet the needs and goals identified.”

“In my future role I will have to work with the individual in order to help them deconstruct the view that disability makes you inferior or incapable. In addressing these disabling barriers by rebuilding their self-confidence, helping them access knowledge and building up their capabilities I can hopefully empower clients.”

Emily concludes: “As a social worker in this arena I will have to ensure I maintain a degree of distance when implementing the strategies agreed upon by the client, providing information and guidance and not completing tasks that the client is capable of doing themselves.”

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No-one stated it better.  Well done Emily – you are a worthy recipient of this inaugural award in Social Work.

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Happy World Social Work Day  – 19th March 2019

The World Social Work Day theme for 2019 is promoting the importance of human relationships.

Further reading : Everyday Caring 

Also see : Royal Rehab