Social Work with Refugees

Follow-up report on the 2nd Social Work Science Day at the St. Pölten UAS

Last week the 2nd Social Work Science Day was held at the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences. "Limits of helpfulness? analysis, controversies and practices of the work with and of refugees " was the subject of a conference in the framework of the Social Work Science Days.

Stakeholders, affected persons, teachers and researchers reported on their experiences. In addition, the day offered workshops on topics concerning social work, information on projects and a photo exhibition.

Helpful citizens

Since September of last year, the number of people seeking protection in Austria has significantly increased. Without the spontaneous helpfulness of numerous citizens, the increase in new arrivals could not have been dealt with. In the current situation, opportunities and difficulties in cooperation between authorities, responsible institutions, civil society organizations, committed citizens as well as the refugees were shown and are being shown.

The Social Work Science Day 2016 dealt with the potentials, problems, limits of helpfulness and with the interaction of civic engagement and professional help: in order to learn by analyzing and linking the lessons for the future. Stakeholders, affected persons, teachers and researchers reported on their experiences.

Indispensable solidarity

"Active solidarity remains indispensable but cannot cover everything that is needed for a successful arrival in Austria. Both paid professional as well as unpaid social engagement need appropriate framework conditions and diverse expertise: for example, in areas pertaining to legal, social, organizational, political, strategic and activist work," said Peter Pantucek-Eisenbach, organizer of the Social Work Science Day and head of the Department of Social Science at St. Pölten UAS.

Social Work under the current framework conditions, must be careful not to take part in the exclusion of societal groups but instead, recognise its role in the inclusion processes, warned Pantucek-Eisenbacher in his opening speech to the symposium.

Work with young refugees

One focus of the conference was devoted to work with young refugees. Under the theme "Building bridges - open youth work and young refugees": experiences, concepts and challenges were discussed with people from practice and research, as well as those interested in related fields of activity.

"Youth centres are places of encounter. Especially in communities where young people with a refugee history are housed in organised accommodations, the youth centre can be one of the very few places where refugee youngsters, without consumer stress, can meet peers and count on the support of youth workers. Encounters and exchanges at a youth centre can be for the one obvious and for the other the beginning of a 'normal' life in Austria," explained Daniela Kern-Stoiber, managing director of the nationwide network Open Youth Work bOJA which had co-organized the youth work part of the Social Works Science Day.

New challenges in research and practice

"Social work as in every area of expertise and every science, must constantly face and respond to new challenges and framework conditions. The combination of research, teaching and practice is of great concern to us. With the Social Work Science Day, the St. Pölten UAS offers a forum for discussion between research, teaching and practice," said Pantucek-Eisenbach.

Workshops and exhibition

Workshops in Social Work Science Day 2016 were devoted to individual topics of social work. A poster session presented projects of the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research of the St. Pölten UAS as well as current works by students.

During the conference in the small festival hall of the St. Pölten UAS, the photo exhibition "Youth (work) in the country - to cope with being-young in Römerland-Carnuntum" was on view.

Social Work Science Day 2016

"Limits of helpfulness? analysis, controversies and practices of the work with and of refugees "
05.19.2016, St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences

https://swsd.fhstp.ac.at/

The Social Work Science Day is an event of the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research in the Department Social Science at the St. Pölten UAS.

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