Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Social Workers: It's Time for Politics in Croatia to Stop Ignoring the Profession

ZAGREB, 15 March 2022 - It's time for Croatian politics to stop ignoring the profession, social workers said in a message on Tuesday on the occasion of World Social Work Day, with this year's theme being "Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind."

"We are seeking ways for our voice to have the same significance as the voice of politics because politics is deaf to our profession," the president of the Croatian Association of Social Workers Štefica Karačić said.

Today's central gathering of social workers in Croatia was held under the motto "Social work in Croatia: New prospects," because in light of the natural disasters and pandemic which are a challenge to social work, the profession is at the beginning of reforms to the social welfare system which they do not agree with and believe the reforms are heading in the wrong direction.

Karačić: The concept of the changes adds more red tape to welfare services

Karačić added that the gathering was an opportunity to once again try and establish dialogue with the competent ministry, adding that structural changes should be the result of a synergy of all those this sector is related to.

The biggest problem with the new reform is that the entire concept of changes will just add more red tape to welfare services and benefits, which means further distancing from beneficiaries, less accessibility, and a reduced role of social workers who are in immediate contact with beneficiaries.

The president of the Croatian Chamber of Social Workers  Antun Ilijaš said that Croatia has 2,500 social workers who care for more than 500,000 beneficiaries, which is a large number. Yet social services are only mentioned in public a few times a year and only when something goes wrong.

Asked to comment on the messages and criticism heard at the gathering, Marija Pletikosa, state secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, said that the profession was not being ignored and the ministry was working on strengthening the profession's dignity.

Pletikosa said that the reforms would relieve social workers of some administrative tasks because the aim is for them to do only what is their profession, to respect protocols and to standardise procedures at all welfare centres. She believes that the majority of social workers are satisfied with the changes.

During the gathering of about a hundred social workers, they stood and applauded social workers in Ukraine, as well as in Russia, who, despite all the dangers, have to remain dedicated to the fundamental principles of the profession, advocating peace and protecting every human being.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Online Appeal for Social Workers Signed by 1,500 People

ZAGREB, 1 Oct 2021 - An online appeal, entitled "Let professionals do their job without being exposed to pressure!", has been signed by more than 1,500 people, including psychologists, social workers and other experts working with children.

The appeal was aimed at warning the competent authorities and public of the extremely negative and dangerous potential effects of the public lynching campaign to which experts in the social protection system have been exposed to over the past few years and which has recently escalated again, the initiators of the appeal said.

"It causes irreparable damage not only to professionals but primarily to children and families, current and future users/patients, who are the most vulnerable group that deserves adequate professional help."

"Do not let cases like the ones in Đakovo and Split happen again due to calls for lynching on social networks and in the media," the signatories to the appeal said.

"Let us do our job and support us in cases of suspected violence against children instead of discouraging us through your actions or lack of them," it is said in the appeal, which was launched by psychologists Andreja Bogdan, Gordana Kamenečki and Josip Lopižić, and social worker Štefica Karačić.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

European Conference for Social Work Research: Croatian And Swiss Scientists Participate in Social Work Symposium

May 19, 2021 - Held in Bucharest, Romania, the European Conference For Social Work Research saw Croatian and Swiss scientists jointly participate in scientific issues of social work in Croatia and Switzerland.

Earlier in May, the University of Bucharest, located after the biggest city and capital of Romania, held an online edition of the European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR).
Swiss and Croatian teams jointly participated in the symposium „Opportunities and Obstacles in the Evaluation of Homelessness from a Lifeworld-oriented International Social Work Perspective“, which saw prof. Matthias Drilling and dr. Zsolt Temesvary represent their University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), and dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović represent the Croatian Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute. The conference was organized by The European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA)

As stated by ESWRA's official website, the association was founded in 2014 with a goal to create social work research development, collaboration, and exchange across Europe. As the ECSWR conference saw overwhelming levels of engagement, the ESWRA association today counts 600 members from across more than 33 countries.

„ESWRA’s vision is to take forward the development, practice, and utilization of social work research to enhance knowledge about individual and social problems, and to promote just and equitable societies“, says ESWRA.

While Dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović presented Croatia at the conference, she is also a member of the team that includes Suzana Sakić and Paula Greiner. Along with the aforementioned Swiss team, the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute informed that the Croatian team participated in a joint research project called "Exploring Homelessness and Pathways to Social Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Contexts and Challenges in Swiss and Croatian Cities (No. IZHRZO_180631/1).

„This work is financed within the Croatian-Swiss Research Program of the Croatian Science Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation with funds obtained from the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Program”, says the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute on its website.

Looking at the „Homelessness and Social Exclusion in Croatia“ science paper whose author is Lynette Šikić-Mićanović from 2010, its abstract suggests that „homelessness is a relatively new phenomenon in most Croatian cities and has been largely ignored by policymakers and social scientists“. So, Šikić-Mičanović's paper aimed to research and contribute new data on a previously unresearched social group to answer the urgent need for a fuller understanding of the perceptions and experiences of homeless people in Croatia.

„Based on the research findings of this study, a number of recommendations can be made for the provision of comprehensive information, services, and assistance to lessen social exclusion among homeless persons as well as to facilitate their routes out of homelessness“, says the paper. Based on scientific research, there are overall five recommendations, as follows:
1.) Special attention – apart from accommodation – needs to be paid to the quality (or lack) of services that homeless people urgently require, such as medical, counseling, legal, supportive holistic assistance from professional qualified and sensitised staff, and so on.
2.) Continual and systematic evaluation is required at shelters and among the wider homeless population by teams of qualified persons, researchers, and/or non-governmental organisations for the assessment and articulation of their needs, abilities, aspirations, and problems.
3.) Programmes need to be developed at the local level to meet different contextual needs. These could include more accessible (less public) soup kitchens, perhaps with special menus (e.g., for diabetics); the introduction of public bathhouses, day centres, doctor’s/dentist’s surgery, or subsidised accommodation for homeless persons, depending on the context.
4.) Volunteers from all age groups should be found and trained with a view to increasing public awareness of homelessness and social exclusion and dispelling the myths and stereotypes about homeless people.
5.) Former shelter users should be monitored and assisted with accommodation and other support services (e.g., utility bills, furniture, therapy, financial aid, help with education) to prevent them from becoming homeless again.

These recommendations are directly quoted from the scientific paper for the sake of accuracy, and hopefully, for a better tomorrow, the policies of the state will follow the scientific findings and discoveries in social sciences.

Learn more about Croatia: location, facts, economy, and more on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Friday, 23 April 2021

Chamber: Social Worker Didn't Error in Case of 2.5-Year-Old Child

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Findings of an inspection in the work of the social worker involved in the supervision of a family whose child died of injuries in the town of Nova Gradiška show that the social worker concerned did no make professional mistakes and that she acted in line with professional protocols.

The expert evaluation of the work of the social worker shows that she did not make mistakes or omissions which could have been conducive to the lethal outcome.

The 2.5-year-old child recently died of the grave injuries caused by domestic violence. The child had been admitted to a Zagreb-based hospital in very serious condition, and despite the efforts of the hospital's staff during her treatment, she succumbed to the injuries.

Following her death, the relevant ministry ordered an expert evaluation of the work of the social welfare centre in Nova Gradiška..

On 19 April, the Croatian Psychological Chamber said that an inspection at that centre showed that the psychologists in charge of the case acted in line with professional standards and measures defined by that centre.

In the period when the violent death happened, the relevant social worker was in self-isolation due to coronavirus.

The child and her family were under the supervision of the social welfare centre in Nova Gradiška for several years.

The family has been under supervision since 2017 and the child, who was given to foster parents for some time, was returned from the foster family to her biological family in line with a decision by that centre.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Social Workers File Charges Against Social Media Activists For Hate Speech

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - Almost 200 social workers from all over Croatia have filed criminal charges against the founder of the 'Save Me' civil initiative, Jelena Veljača, and actress Nataša Janjić Medančić, claiming that their comments on social media incited violence and hate against social workers.

Lawyer Klaudio Čurin filed the criminal charges with the State Attorney's Office on behalf of the  social workers.

In a statement to Hina, Čurin said that he was given a power of attorney on behalf of more than 150 social workers, whose number has in the meantime increased to more than 200.

"I am getting calls from all over Croatia, even from the islands," said Čurin, who believes that with their comments on social networks, the two activists committed a crime against public order - public incitement to violence and hate.

The legal action has been supported by the Chamber of Social Workers, which has called on other professional chambers to show their support. 

The chamber said that a few days ago the spontaneous initiative had emerged among social workers to file criminal charges against Veljača and Janjić Medančić.

After the recent violent death of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl in Nova Gradiška, who was taken from her foster family and returned to her birth parents, Veljača called for those responsible at the local welfare centre to be dismissed.

Janjić Medančić joined Veljača with her comments, which have been erased in the meantime, in which they referred to social workers as people feathering their own nests and murderers. Social workers responded by saying that their comments contributed to an atmosphere of lynching and that the two were not competent to discuss that topic.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.