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Social Workers Profession Bill: Here’s Why It’s Very Important

Social Workers Profession Bill: Here’s Why It’s Very Important

Social workers are trained professionals who can help someone with a traumatic experience of abuse.

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Imagine dealing with a woman who has been abused by her husband or a small girl that has been raped and sexually abused by her stepdad with the help of her birth mother.

Imagine telling these victims that life has better things to offer. Can you?

Well, these are the situations trained social workers deal with. Not only giving victims a shoulder to cry on but helping them deal with a traumatic experience and guiding them towards better things ahead.

Who Are Social Workers?

Pic Credit: MASW/Facebook

The common opinion in our society is that social workers help people during times of need such as during massive floods.

In reality, social workers are the ones who are trained to deal with people’s traumatic experiences.

Their primary objective is to make sure the victims leave the safety net. To put it simply, to help them develop into completely capable, self-sufficient people.

That is the reason why the Malaysian Association of Social Workers (MASW) and UNICEF are trying their best to get the Social Workers Profession Bill to be tabled in Parliament as soon as possible.

This bill would not only help social workers but also victims of abuse and other traumas.

Victims generally would require help during the onset of a crisis. In other words, when the victims approach the social workers, they determine if they require medical attention, housing, or some other type of help, as well as the nature of their support network.

Mangleswary Subramaniam

Pic Credit: Keran/TRP

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Mangleswary Subramaniam, a social worker from MASW.

She started volunteering as a child protector in a non-governmental organisation (NGO), but later she found that interest and passion alone were not enough for this work.

She later completed a separate diploma in Child Psychology and also a master’s degree in Social Work. She then left her high-paying job and became a full-time social worker.

I started my first volunteering work when I was 16 and my focus was on education because I felt that one of the ways for a person to break away from poverty was through education. And from there…. my interest grew bigger and the exposure I got from the organisations I joined, now I’m a gender-based violence crisis intervention social worker… focusing on gender-based violence

Mangleswary Subramaniam

According to Mangeswary, violence is not gender-specific as men and women can both become victims of violence and abuse.

However, since our society has been a patriarchal society for a long time, some of the men tend to take authority over the women in their households.

She also mentioned that from her experience, it can be said that at times sexual assault has been used to teach a lesson.

……and that’s when you look at sexual assault and everything, it’s used as a way to teach a lesson

Mangleswary Subramaniam

For a child, it is different because of their dependence on others for the basic needs of life (food, shelter, care, and love).

This makes them vulnerable and more easily targeted for abuse and if they have been raised in such an environment, it becomes a norm.

……if this was the home they were raised in, they do not know any kind of different environment besides the abuse that they are facing.”

Mangleswary Subramaniam

Another thing that Mangleswary stressed was the lack of awareness among children regarding sexual abuse.

As a parent, it is one’s duty to teach the child about bad touches and good touches and to let them know about their right to their body and others should respect their body autonomy and boundaries, she remarked.

Of course, the other part is lack of awareness. Because we are not teaching children what is sexual abuse, what is good touch, and bad touch. When do they learn that? And what if it’s done by someone who says they love them and care for them? It’s a confusing state for a child. This is my mom, or this is my father, and they are doing this to me, but is this right or wrong? You know, they do take care of my food, they give me what I need.

Mangleswary Subramaniam

As for women who are going through abuse, the fear of the abuser and also society prevents them from bravely coming out and reporting it.

So the lack of awareness and also for women living in abusive situations is also the lack of resources or the fear of retaliation. So the dependency on the abuser gets them stuck in that situation. And that’s the power that the abuser has with them.

Mangleswary Subramaniam

Awareness And Technology

However, one may argue with the development of technology, the awareness of abuse should have increased.

While that is true, technology has also increased the chances of someone abusing another. The point to note here is that abuse is not only done physically but also mentally.

There have been many cases of people committing suicide because of the abuse they go through on social media platforms.

…….but the other thing that has now happened is using technology to further exploit and abuse.

Mangleswary Subramaniam

Social Worker Profession Bill

Taking into account all of the facts that have been given above, it becomes very apparent that the Social Worker Profession Bill should be tabled and approved as soon as possible.

The purpose of the bill is to make social work into a profession and seek to improve social services for children, their families, and communities while also guaranteeing social workers’ recognition.

“It’s going to be recognising social work as a valued profession… the same as any other profession, social work is also a profession that you need proper training, you need proper monitoring and it’s basically to safeguard the clients that you’re helping because you need a competent social worker.”- Mangleswary Subramaniam

With this bill, the resources for social workers and their training will evolve and this in return will be helpful for the many victims out there.
A separate regulating agency is also suggested in the bill to guarantee the calibre and standard of social workers in Malaysia.

It will also be helpful to provide continuing professional development for current social workers as well as a minimal educational requirement in social work, such as a diploma or degree.

READ MORE: Possible Tabling Of Social Work Profession Bill This Year Welcomed By MASW, UNICEF

READ MORE: MASW, UNICEF Seek To Enact ‘Social Work Profession Bill’ To Support Vital Role Of Social Workers

By making social work into a profession, the social workers’ mental health will also be cared for as proper counseling can be provided with the increase of resources.

Another part is also for the social workers because you did ask me a good question, how do you deal with it? How do you handle emotions? It’s basically when you have this body that is regulating, one thing, whatever the emerging issues that are coming up, like online violence now, how do you handle it? What are the skills that are needed for the social workers to pick up? So the regulating body will be looking into that and then ensuring that all of us go through the training to equip ourselves

Mangleswary Subramaniam

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