Armenian association of Social Workers

News
Accountable Social State: Citizen’s Voices from the Field
2017 August 14

Do citizens of Armenia participate in local social protection reforms? To what extent they are involved in decision making processes? What prevents them from fully participating in this process?   

The Armenian Association of Social Workers (AASW) asked the aforementioned questions at 12 Town-Hall meetings with the participation of more than 800 citizens in all 11 regions of Armenia. 

AASW consolidated and analyzed concerns and recommendations expressed by the participants in regards to citizen perception and awareness of social reforms. The Town Hall format became a platform for them to provide recommendations on the current reforms in the social protection system. In particular the following topics were covered during those discussions: reorganization of childcare institutions; social protection for people with disabilities; prevention of domestic violence; and introduction of integrated social services.

One of the common concerns raised by citizens during the meetings was the lack of social services in marzes, as well as the inaccessibility of and poor collaboration between existing local services. These and other issues directly affect the quality of provided services and consequently the possible resolution of local social problems.     

“ … there is a USUAL PRACTICE in this system, which will never make it function properly .

We are not yet ready for those changes…”

It was evident that the town hall participants were skeptical about systemic reforms to the social protection system. However citizens did express hope that new reforms would lead to desired changes and were enthusiastic to share their recommendations for supporting the reform processes. 

Based on some of the recommendations from participants at these meetings, AASW believes that citizens lack reliable information on the current social reforms. Information on legislative amendments are either inaccessible to citizens or provided to citizens after the legislation has already been implemented, meaning a participatory approach does not exist for citizens to express their views in those changes.   

“ … We would appreciate if there is at least an informational leaflet available

to raise our awareness about the current processes….”

Town hall meetings have been conducted through the support of UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in the frame of “Acting together for an Accountable Social State in Armenia” project.

Consolidated results and complete analysis will be shared at a public hearing to be held in Fall of 2017.

World Social Work Day
2017 March 24

World Social Work Day for the first time was launched by The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) in 1983. Later other social work organizations such as the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) also have joined to this initiative.  By the time World Social Work Day has become a highpoint in the social work calendar.

Already 34 years World Social Work Day is being celebrated  on every 3rd Tuesday in March. On this date social work organizations throughout the world take actions and implement activities to message their governments, communities, and peer professional groups on the unique and significant role of the social work profession in the lives of individuals, families and communities. The actions highlight social work’s approach to facilitating sustainable community outcomes by applying a developmental and capacity building approach coupled with advocating for social justice and human rights.

The themes of WSWD are set for two years according to the goals of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development:

Every year IFSW produces a poster announcing World Social Work Day. Besides poster, as always World Social Work Day activities are being implemented under some themes. These themes are parts of Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Developmnet. This year the theme is “Promoting community and environmental sustainability”. 

World Social Work Day events have become so successful in recent years that it is now generally considered as highlight of international solidarity and cooperation of social workers.

 

The Winners of the Game - "Who are they...?" are known.
2016 June 29
AASW president and team members participated in Social Work International Days
2016 June 13

LINZ – From June 5 to 10, 2016, AASW president and team members participated in the “International Days in Social Work”, which took place in The University of Upplied Siences Upper Austria, Linz. It was a living testimony to the fact that the social problems of our increasingly mobile and diverse society can best be tackled through international comparison and exchange. 50 professors and students of Social Work from a total of 14 countries gathered experience and new ideas for their scientific work in a series of workshops and field visits to Upper-Austrian organisation

s. 

 

 

AASW Board Members Meeting
2016 May 08

YEREVAN -  On May 6 AASW board meeting was held. The main goal of the meeting was to discuss the further activities of association on the investment of ''Law on Social Work'', ''Social Work Collegium'', on the possibilities of investment a system of accreditation of social workers.    

The president of AASW- Mira Antonyan presented the agenda of the meeting, ongoing issues and all the preparation works done for the provision of solutions of these particular problems.

 The member of the work group of  ''Law on Social Work''  project of the law - Armine Andranikyan presented the fulfilled activites realized by the group members.The following issue was put at the top of the meeting's agenda: How to ensure the transition of social work professionals from educational process to practical placement.

 At the end of the meeting, it was decided to consult with lawyers about the possibilities of formation of ''Social Worker Collegium'', to study  the experience of “Chamber of Advocates”, as well as to continue discussions regarding the status of social workers and their accreditation criterias.

A Social Work Expert - Robert Kroiss's visit to Armenia.
2016 March 20

March 20, 2016

YEREVAN – From March 14 to 18, 2016, a social work expert from Vienna visited Armenia in the context of the ongoing project “Sustainable Social Change in Eastern Neighbourhood Countries through Strengthened Active Social Workers and their Associations”. The expert, Robert Kroiss, came with the intention of helping AASW to set forth and clarify its strategic aims and action plan for the next several years, but the visit turned out to be much more than that.

 Aside from multiple meetings with AASW’s Executive Board and Board of Directors to discuss the strategic directions, the action plan, member services, approaches to licensing and accreditation and other crucial topics, Mr. Kroiss also met with several important stakeholders in Armenia, including CSOs, Ministries and international organizations.

 On his first day was a particularly impressionable meeting with the Women’s Support Center of Armenia, an NGO that provides services for mother and child survivors of domestic violence. The social workers at the Center do not have academic education in social work, as is the case for the vast majority of social workers in Armenia, but instead spoke about their many years of experience providing services for and working with survivors. It was eye-opening for Mr. Kroiss to see the extent to which practical experience is valued above and beyond academic education in the social work sphere in Armenia.

 The next day, Mr. Kroiss was a featured speaker in the World Social Work Day conference on “State Social Protection System since Independence” at Yerevan State University. He spoke about the crucial role of social work in social protection systems and the necessity of professional regulation for the development and success of the profession. Using his vast experience as a consultant across Eastern Europe, he described the trends of post-Soviet countries, and focused on the crucial systems that regulate education and accreditation of social workers.  

  Later in the week, Mr. Kroiss met with representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, the World Bank and UNICEF, which is a project partner of AASW. Also, the project manager Nicole Bauer from Hilfswerk Austria, the project’s lead partner, joined Mr. Kroiss later in the week to continue conversations with AASW’s leadership about the strategy and action plan. Overall their visit was a success, leading to new ideas for the direction of AASW’s work and for an international perspective on the state of social work education and accreditation in Armenia.

 

                            

          

     

The Executive Director of AASW Participated in the Annual Social Work Symposium in Vienna
2016 March 16

VIENNA--March 15 is World Social Work Day, which was celebrated in the framework of IFSW’s annual Social Work Symposium, this year entitled “Responding to the Refugee Crisis”. The symposium was facilitated by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) in partnership with the Austrian Association of Social Workers (OBDS) and Younion (Austrian Trade Union).

Annually, social workers from around the world come together on World Social Work Day to discuss and highlight global issues. This year’s focus was the refugee crisis, bringing together social workers from 26 countries, particularly refugee War Countries (Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, etc.), Transfer Countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Hungary etc.) and Asylum Countries (UK, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Norway, etc.).

The symposium aimed to develop a focused strategy to support particularly vulnerable groups, to establish a comprehensive strategy for political advocacy and to establish models of social work that can effectively support refugees in isolated situations and utilize the skills of social workers to develop inclusive and cohesive societies. The IFSW published a statement following the symposium, “Social Work Responding to The Political Crisis Forcing People into Displacement and Refugee Status, underlining that the current refugee crisis is aresult of inadequate international political solidarity.

Armenia was represented at the symposium, and at a March 16 Austrian National Conference on emergency relief strategies by the Executive Director of AASW, Syuzanna Juharyan. At the symposium she presented an overview of the refugee situation in Armenia, underlining the specific circumstances of Syrian-Armenian refugees. She also highlighted the limited resources of social programs in Armenia, and lack of aid from in-country international organizations.

Despite the huge numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe and scare tactics in full force by the media, social workers from varied backgrounds are sure that the refugee crisis can be handled if there is proper political will and solidarity of European people.

 More details and IFSW’s statement can be found here

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Conference dedicated to the 25th anniversary of independence of RA .“Social security state system in the conditions of the Independence”
2016 March 15

YEREVAN-- On March 15, 2016 a conference was held at Yerevan State University, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence and entitled, “State systems of social security since independence”. YSU’s Faculty of Sociology and the Armenian Association of Social Workers collaborated to organize the conference.

    The conference focused on the 25 years’ experience of creation and reform of the country’s social protection system. Speakers focused on positive achievements and the current situation, issues and trends of the social protection system. In addition, state security systems and strengthened cooperation among institutions and experts in the field were priority topics of the conference.

      YSU Rector Aram Simonyan noted that both state and society can only sustainably exist through the creation of a system of social protection that symbiotically protects both parties. “All that is being accomplished today, even in the narrow capabilities of the system as it stands, can only be welcomed. Over the past years the system and services have shown that, despite our many difficulties and challenges, the state social security system is starting to operate more effectively,” Mr. Simonyan said.

    RA Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatryan pointed out that the system has traditionally stressed poverty reduction through monetary handouts, and focused on solving problems related to unemployment and emigration. “Today, one of the most crucial problems is understanding the needs of vulnerable groups of society so that adequate social services can be provided,” he said. Minister Asatryan stressed that poverty cannot be overcome by providing exclusively monetary transfers, because such solutions are short-term and do not address the underlying issues that contribute to the existence of poverty.

    During the conference, thematic presentations were made by representatives of the RA National Assembly and government agencies, the academic sphere, non-governmental and international organizations, social policy development experts, and social workers and case managers involved in direct service provision.

    Experts from the field discussed the role of state social services within society and opportunities for civil society participation in reform processes and service provision. Experts also addressed the specific issues that face various vulnerable population groups. All participants contributed to a balanced and nuanced discussion of the state social protection system in independent Armenia, and agreed upon the necessity for more comprehensive and needs-based service provision for the benefit of both state and society.

The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of RA - Mr. Artem Asatryan

 

The Yerevan State University Rector - Mr. Aram Simonyan.   

AASW Members Participated in Vienna Study Tour.
2016 March 01

March 1, 2016

 VIENNA – From January 11 to 16, 2016, three members of AASW traveled to Vienna for a study tour in the context of the ongoing project “Sustainable Social Change in Eastern Neighborhood Countries through Strengthened Active Social Workers and their Associations”. The study tour was led by the lead partner, Hilfswerk Austria International, and was also attended by the partners from respected countries: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova. 

Manane Petrosyan, Mira Antonyan and Nvard Melkonyan attended the study tour on behalf of AASW, and were joined in Vienna by the Vice President of AASW, Syuzanna Juharyan. After a welcome dinner of the famous Austrian schnitzel, delegates spent four days visiting various practical and academic organizations of social work.

 During the tour there were several service provision methods and structural approaches that were very exciting for the Armenian delegation. First was the universal childcare allowance that is in place in Austria and across much of Western Europe. This social security payment is given to the parents of children, and sometimes given directly to young adults. Besides the positive benefit for families, such a system also expands conceptions of social support from specific needs-based support to a wider social safety net for all citizens of a country.

 With the aim of improving the capacity and functioning of AASW itself, it was very informative for the Armenian delegation to hear about how the Austrian Association of Social Workers is run. The Austrian Association focuses mostly on policy work, while the separate Trade Union focuses on the protection of social workers themselves. The sliding scale of membership and good control of standards for practice placements by the association were also crucial aspects that the delegation sees as highly valuable in the Armenian context.

 Lastly, the many direct service organizations that the delegation visited during the study tour were inspiring in the varied innovative ways in which they provide services to their beneficiaries. In particular, the Jugend am Werk apprentice program for young adults with special needs organizes vocational trainings and apprenticeships based on both the clients’ available skills and the demands of the labour market. The priority is a high standard of individualized client work and problem-solving along with the client instead of for them. Their innovative housing models for young people with disabilities serve the same purpose: to give young people with disabilities a chance to be included in society and to function independently with the support that they need.

 In all cases, the delegation was impressed with social workers’ high attention to the clients’ own needs and desires, and leaving final choices up to the client, whether in the case of young people with disabilities or elderly people in their medical choices. The visit was a great opportunity to learn about innovative models of social work and social support, and the Armenian delegation came away with many new ideas for models of social care as well as developments to be made for AASW itself.

 Many thanks to Nicole Bauer, project manager and regional coordinator for the South Caucasus, for organizing such an informative and inspiring study tour. We hope to be back in Vienna again soon!  

Government, Civil Society and International Organizations Discuss Diaspora Engagement for Armenian Children
2016 February 04

YEREVAN,AASW--President Dr. Mira Antonyan and Board Member Ms. Manane Petrosyan today attended the Conference on Innovative Approaches to Diaspora Engagement and Use of Remittances for Child Wellbeing in Armenia, launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the European Union in Armenia. Participants discussed innovative ways to engage the Armenian diaspora in support of vulnerable children, especially in the context of current social reforms. In addition, the discussion touched on ways in which the diaspora can contribute more meaningfully to development of the social sector in Armenia. With AASW’s international connections and network, this was a great opportunity for the Association.

 If you want to know more, please, click here.