Practice to make a difference.

Doing Critical Social Work - Transformative Practices for Social Justice

An undergraduate text showing how critical social work theory can be put into practice in a range of contexts from mental health to child and family services and with diverse population groups.

Critical social work encourages emancipatory personal and social change. This text focuses on the challenge of incorporating critical theory into the practice of social workers and provides case studies and insights from a range of fields to illustrate how to work with tensions and challenges.

Beginning with an outline of the theoretical basis of critical social work and its different perspectives, the authors go on to introduce key features of working in this tradition including critical reflection. Part II explores critical practices in confronting privilege and promoting social justice in social work, examining such issues as human rights, gender, poverty and class. Part III considers the development of critical practices within the organisational context of social work including the fields of mental health, child and family services, within Centrelink and prison settings. Part IV is focused on doing anti- discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice in social work with particular populations including asylum seekers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, domestic violence survivors, older people and lesbian, gay and transgender groups. Finally, Part V outlines collectivist and transformative practices in social work and beyond, looking at environmental issues, social activism, the disability movement and globalisation.


  • Foreword Donna Baines
  • List of contributors
  • Acknowledgments of contributors
  • Part I Addressing the Tensions in Critical Social Work
  • 1 Doing critical social work in the neoliberal context: Working on the contradictions Bob Pease and harlene Nipperess
  • 2 Critical reflection and critical social work Christine Morley
  • 3 Towards critical social work supervision Carolyn Noble
  • 4 Making sense of different theoretically informed approaches in doing critical social work Norah Hosken and Sophie Goldingay
  • Part II Critical Practices in Confronting Privilege and Promoting Social Justice
  • 5 Towards a critical human rights-based approach to social work practice Sharlene Nipperess
  • 6 Interrogating privilege and complicity in the oppression of others Bob Pease
  • 7 Social work, class and the structural violence of poverty Norah Hosken
  • Part III Developing Critical Practices within the Organisational Context of Social Work
  • 8 Beyond the dominant approach to mental health practice Noel Renouf
  • 9 Embedding critical social work in child protection practice Robyn Miller
  • 10 Critical social work in Centrelink: an oxymoron or an opportunity? Peter Humphries
  • 11 Building relationships and effecting change: critical social work practice in prison settingsSophie Goldingay
  • 12 Professional practice standards and critical practices: addressing the tensions in social work field education settings Norah Hosken, Lesley Ervin and Jody Laughton
  • Part IV Doing Anti-discriminatory and Anti-oppressive Practice in Social Work
  • 13 Anti-oppressive practice with people seeking asylum in Australia: reflections from the field Sharlene Nipperess and Sherrine Clark
  • 14 Challenges for Indigenous and non-Indigenous practitioners in the neoliberal context Stephanie Gilbert
  • 15 Feminism under siege: critical reflections on the impact of neoliberalism and managerialism on feminist practice Ann Carrington
  • 16 Developing anti-ageist practice in social work Tina Kosteciki
  • 17 Working for equality and difference: (de)constructing heteronormativity Jude Irwin
  • Part V Towards Collectivist and Transformative Practices in Social Work
  • 18 Environmental social work as critical, decolonising practice Mel Gray and John Coates
  • 19 Taking it to the streets: critical social work's relationship with activism Jessica Morrison
  • 20 Social work, disability and social change: a critical participatory approach Russell Shuttleworth
  • 21 The structural, the post-structural and the commons: new practices for creating change in a complex world Jose Ramos
  • 22 Education for critical social work: being true to a worthy project Selma Macfarlane

Author Bio:

  • Bob Pease is Professor of Social Work at the University of Tasmania.
  • Sophie Goldingay is a senior lecturer in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University.
  • Norah Hosken is a senior lecturer in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University.
  • Sharlene Nipperess is a lecturer in Social Work at RMIT University.


“A highly valuable addition to social work education and practice literature in Australia and beyond its shores.” - Ruth Phillips, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney


Doing Critical Social Work - Transformative Practices for Social Justice

Author: Bob Pease

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