Lecture – Clinical Social Workers on the Front Lines of Justice

Available with English captions.

Presented by Rebekah Gewirts, MPA, National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter –The 2019 Golda Edinburg Lecture

The social work code of ethics states that the primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people. The code of ethics puts emphasis on the needs of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.

With this in mind, Gewirts explains why and how social workers should engage in the legislative process to advocate for needed changes that help the individuals they serve.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • The role of social workers in society
  • The National Association of Social Workers’ mission and programs
  • State government in Massachusetts, including the legislative process
  • A case study illustrating the value and power of organized action
  • Advice for individuals seeking to advocate for change through the legislative process

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), is the largest professional association of social workers in the world. According to Gewirts, the mission of the Massachusetts chapter is to advance professional social work to promote human rights, social and economic justice, and unimpeded access to services for all. To accomplish these goals, the Massachusetts chapter works with the state legislature to pass laws designed to help social workers best serve those in need.

During the talk, Gewirts presents a case study showing how NASW Massachusetts worked through the legislative process to address a problem regarding insurance company audits of social workers. She provides a step-by-step explanation of how the NASW collaborated with legislators to pass a bill that better served social workers and their clients.

Given the power of collective action, Gewirts states that social workers—as well as any citizen wishing to change laws and regulations—must become educated about legislative processes.

Gewirts says that many widely held beliefs about political action are myths. For example, she says directly contacting a legislator with a complaint or suggestion often results in a return call and action. Also, she asserts that in-person testifying on a bill or proposal is often effective.