2016 Theme: "Social Workers Help Turn Issues Into Answers"
Tagline: "Social Workers: Real Experts for Real Life"
The theme and tagline for Social Work Week (SWW) 2016 mirror that of OASW's newly launched Marketing Campaign. While Social Work Week provides an important vehicle to celebrate the profession's accomplishments, it also affords a significant opportunity to raise the profile of the profession, especially with members of the public who have never used social work services.
All too often, members of the public know little about our profession or hold narrow, inaccurate and/or unfavourable impressions of social workers. Changing this perception, and increasing the public's awareness of our scope of practice, is crucial to the funding of social work services and the health and sustainability of our profession.
Poster for Social Work Week 2016
The SWW/marketing poster/ad that OASW has produced has 7 different versions. While the text remains the same, the image changes and shows four individuals at varying life stages. The positioning of the images and the text, "Turn Issues Into Answers", is intended to grab the public's attention. The tagline "Social Workers: Real Experts for Real Life" reflects that a core competence of social workers is the ability to anticipate, address and facilitate practical solutions for costly and important social issues that affect people's day-to-day lives.
Why Social Workers Are Experts
Do social workers have the right to refer to themselves as "experts"? The public thinks so! A market research firm tested the ads with the public to see how the images and messages affected their perception of social workers and their willingness to consider seeking social work services for themselves or encouraging a family member or friend to do so. The public's reaction to the images and messages was positive, and feedback was incorporated in the finalized ads/posters.
Where does social work expertise come from? Our profession's unique education, understanding of systems, grounding in the social determinants of health and strengths-based approach ideally position social workers to assist members of the public in finding answers to issues they want to resolve.
Here's How You Can Help Change the Perception of Social Workers
Leading up to, and during Social Work Week, here is how you and colleagues within your agency/ organization can play a critical role in raising the profile of the profession:
- Add "Social Workers: Real Experts for Real Life" to your signature.
- Share the ads on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
- Circulate one of the ads to five of your colleagues and ask them to do the same.
- Order poster size ads from OASW and post them on community and staff bulletin boards.
- Ask that they be included in a workplace newsletter/newspaper.
- Ask colleagues in other settings to do the same thing.
- Complete OASW's "I Declare" Survey (8-10 seconds) to let us know you participated.
Changing the public's perception of the profession will not be a quick fix. It will take time, collective action and persistence. We do not have a choice. It needs to happen. As a profession, we're excellent advocates for our clients. It's time for us to be excellent advocates for our profession.
We are counting on your support!