Journal Article

A Critically Informed Perspective of Working with Resettling Refugee Groups in Australia

Peter Westoby and Ann Ingamells

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 6, pages 1759-1776
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
A Critically Informed Perspective of Working with Resettling Refugee Groups in Australia

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Although there have been many critiques of the central role that trauma plays in social work practice with refugees, nevertheless, trauma discourse maintains a powerful shaping force on service delivery in Australia, intersecting with, and gaining power from, managerial discourses that specify individually focused approaches to practice. The outcome is a double bind for refugee populations, who quickly learn that, in this country, identifying themselves as vulnerable is a pathway to resources, yet, who then find themselves caught in processes that have precarious effects for agency. Trauma work, the paper argues, however necessary at some points, is overemphasised and over-legitimised, and a range of critiques are drawn on to substantiate this. Revisiting some of the traditional disciplinary bases of social work and human services may facilitate organisations and practitioners to engage more proactively and reflexively with people who arrive as refugees across a broader range of tasks associated with re-establishing themselves in a new country.

Keywords: refugee resettlement; sociology; trauma; healing/recovery; critical practice; reflective practice

Journal Article.  6685 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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