Helping social workers face the ethical challenges of social media is up for discussion today (17 Oct)at Social Work in Health in the 21st Century: Innovating, Influencing, Integrating.

A joint collaboration between Griffith University and the Gold Coast University Hospital, the Symposium will address some of the key issues facing the social work profession today.

Associate Professor Donna McAuliffe from the School of Human Services and Social Work says that in light of increasing problems with social workers and social media, the profession needs more education regarding its ethical literacy.

Many challenges for social workers

“With the massive increase in social media across all areas of society, for the first time social workers are having to take this very seriously. We are seeing many challenges posed for social workers as part of their everyday work,” she says.

“For example, social workers have had to work with organisations to alert them to the dangers of allowing photographs of clients to be posted on social media sites without their knowledge or consent. In other cases, social workers have had to respond sensitively to clients who want them to accept friend requests on Facebook. It is all becoming an ethical minefield.

“Many people are unsure about the privacy issues that are brought to the fore by social media and so there is a lot to be done to increase eprofessionalism and as a result, improve relationships with other health disciplines.

“Social workers need to not just be ethically literate and ethically congruent, but they also need to be digitally savvy,” says Associate Professor McAuliffe.

“They need to understand more about the implications of social media, sharing profiles online and the overall impacts that it can have on their professional lives, for example when applying for jobs.”

The Symposium — to be held at the Gold Coast University Hospital -will showcase evidence-based social work practice, research and education in health. It will also highlight innovation in Social Work practice, how the discipline can influence service delivery in health, and creative ways ofintegratingsocial workpractice.

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