Transnational social workers in statutory child welfare: a scoping review

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Publication details

Modderman, C, Threlkeld, G & McPherson, L 2017, 'Transnational social workers in statutory child welfare: a scoping review', Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 81, pp. 21-28.

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Internationally, child welfare services experience chronic workforce shortages and high rates of staff turnover. One strategy adopted to fill critical workforce gaps is the international recruitment of social workers. Child welfare employers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have a shared tradition of recruiting transnational social workers to address ongoing labour shortages in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. This raises questions about the impact of this practice for those migrating social workers and about practice with indigenous populations. This paper scoped publications to identify emerging themes about social work movement between these countries, with a focus on knowledge that can prepare transnational social workers for the unique Australian context, including working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The review found that international recruitment to statutory child welfare in Australia is not well researched, with limited evidence about the profile of recruits, the effectiveness of this strategy and retention rates. The demographics and experiences of overseas qualified social workers in child welfare over the past 40 years in the various Australian jurisdictions remain relatively unknown. There are major gaps in knowledge about the ways international recruitment affects outcomes for children, and their families, in Australia's statutory child welfare services delivery.

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