Transnational social workers' lived experience in statutory child protection

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Modderman, C, Threlkeld, G & McPherson, L 2018, 'Transnational social workers' lived experience in statutory child protection', European Journal of Social Work, pp. 1-13.

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The experience of loss and grief affects migrating social workers who enter an unfamiliar child protection environment. This paper highlights themes that emerged from the narratives of 13 transnational social workers, who were educated and practised in the United Kingdom or Ireland before being recruited to Australia’s statutory child protection workforce. The recruitment of social workers from overseas is an approach used across Australia to backfill a continuous shortage of frontline child protection staff. The effectiveness of this strategy remains largely unexamined. This narrative-informed study investigated the process of professional experience as a child protection practitioner and the personal experience of migration. Two data collection points enabled exploration of the experience over time. Participants reported a loss of personal and professional belonging during the concurrent experiences of migration and adaptation to an unfamiliar practice environment. The findings suggest that in light of the complex and emotionally charged nature of child protection practice, raised awareness and better support are needed for transnational social workers who, as new migrants themselves, are experiencing a profound and life-changing event.

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