Paper presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July, 2014.
Daniel Hadson (Department of Human Services, Newcastle, Australia).
Technology is ‘nothing new’. The human timeline is steeped in the acquisition, development and utilization of tools that have extended our limits, helped us adapt to changing environments, and transformed our societies. The exponential rise of communicative and ‘social’ technology in recent years is the manifestation of a long and deep relationship between people and their devices. In contemporary society, where technological advances are exponential, this intersection of the ‘digital’ and the ‘social’ creates an important space for professional practice dialogue. While much of the popular discourse centers on the adoption of technology for service provision, or on issues of access and equity for service users, the principles that underpin the development and implementation of these technologies must also be understood and critiqued in light of our own professional values.
For social workers in a large government department, technological change has been rapid and unavoidable. Government services are adapting to the radical (sometimes fundamental) remapping of social, cultural, political and economic structures brought about by the Digital Age. For a number of practitioners, this journey has resulted in a dynamic interaction of values, through both interplay and collision. This paper uses cooperative enquiry to draw on the emerging practice wisdom of those heavily engaged within a new (often unknown) environment, as well as a broad range of literature, to consider the similarities and differences between modern social work values and those of the Digital Age. The ways in which social workers continue to operate from a base of social justice, self-determination and engagement, while using technologies designed for efficiency, rapidity and connectivity, will also be explored.
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