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Social Work's Colonial Past With Indigenous Children and Communities in Australia and Canada: A Cross-National Comparison

This article offers a cross-national comparison of social work in two countries, Australia and Canada, about the care of Indigenous children within the context of colonization and the evolving profession. The discussion is based on data from two empirical studies that examined professional discourse relating to the removal of Indigenous children from their families and Indigenous peoples more broadly within key historical time frames.

The studies involved a content analysis of the flagship journals of the Australian and Canadian professional associations. It is argued that a critical interrogation of professional discourse within these historical and national particularities provides insights that can inform a broader understanding of how practices and constructions of social work are shaped within contemporary practice contexts.

The studies revealed that very little attention was paid to problematizing colonial policies and practices, including the state-sanctioned forcible removal of countless Indigenous children from their biological families, while the professions in both countries were complicit in the oppressive treatment of Indigenous peoples that have left a legacy of intergenerational trauma.

The findings suggest a way of understanding social work as a discipline beyond the historical specificities of the two countries that has relevance to social work across the globe.

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Journal article - open access
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