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Probation officer: Social work need a revamp
Social work needs to be revolutionised to make it more applicable to the Caribbean says Akilah Riley, probation officer and teacher at the University of the Southern Caribbean. She was speaking at the start of a two-day symposium titled “Bridging the gap between social work theory and practice” held at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine yesterday.
Those who participated included welfare officers, senior psychiatric social workers, prisons welfare officers, medical social workers, rehabilitation officers, government officials and leaders of non-governmental organisations.
Claiming it was important not to discard what was taught because certain fundamental principles could be applied universally, she said there were situations which sometimes dealt with the culture of a community.
Touching on her fieldwork, Riley said she was “humbled” by her experience with community leaders which enabled her to better understand specific issues affecting a community, as in the instance of Laventille, Sea Lots or the Beetham.
Saying the work of a social worker or probation officer entails many long hours, Riley said the real test is putting theory into practice. “Always be transparent with clients. And there must be respect. We must also see a client as someone who has a voice,” Riley added.
Also speaking was Margaret Sampson-Browne, manager of the Victims and Witness Support Unit of the Police Service, who said it was vital to work hand-in-hand with the communities.
She said the unit had made progress not only with murder victims and witnesses but victims of all types of abuse.
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