13 April 2018

Message from IFSW President Ruth Stark

Ruth Stark

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I am writing at the end of my term as President of IFSW to thank you for the honour you have given me to lead the profession in the last 4 years and to indicate that I think we are now ready for a new period in our development in making our contribution to positive, transformational change in our world. We have much to bring to the development of inclusive, sustainable communities.

IFSW has grown by 60% in 6 years, we now represent 3 million social workers in 128 countries. The global movement to transform our communities into socially just and human rights inclusive societies is immense. The global acclamation of this influence we have is shown in all the activities on World Social Work Day each year, and for the rest of the year we each contribute our own part in sustaining that positive change.

It is now time for the Federation to seek a leader from a part of our world that have not previously held the IFSW Presidency. We have already had nominations from some of those areas – Africa, Latin America and hopefully Asia!  This demonstrates the health of our global perspective and I am happy to offer my support to the successful candidate whom you will elect at the General Meeting in Dublin.

As can be expected, because we as social workers know about how change happens, with such rapid growth there are growing pains. As you prepare to come to the General Meeting or send your proxy votes with another member or to the Secretariat, there are two main issues for you to consider as the Governing Body of IFSW.

The first is that the core infrastructure of the Federation is well under capacity to support the rapid growth that has been made and there is an urgent need to increase the staffing in the Secretariat to meet the needs of the members of the Federation in all five regions.

The second set of issues involves the partnership arrangements with IFSW and other organisations that have specific interests in aspects of the profession. Again, as social workers, we know that there can be pain in growth and people respond in different ways to the change in the status quo. This has been happening increasingly in the past months with IASSW and ICSW. All the issues that have been raised in social media and websites have been discussed fully by the global Executive, made up of the Presidents and Vice Presidents of each of your regions. Decisions have bene reached unanimously on the location of the 2020 World Conference, Bridging the Gap between social work education and practice and in what is needed by the profession in terms of the Statement of Ethical Principles. The reasoning behind of each of these parts of our work plan will be reported in full in our report from the executive to the General Meeting in advance, so you will have the opportunity to examine for yourselves the direction of travel of IFSW.

On a personal note I would like much greater access to all our activities for people who are experienced in using social work services. I believe they should have a seat at the table. As I come to the end of my term, I will not be standing for re-election, my energies will be moving in that direction of capacity building to make such a vision a reality.

I look forward to meeting you all again in Dublin, I look forward to healthy debate looking forward to the next 90 years of IFSW and I am ready to celebrate our achievements as a very proud member of a wonderful profession!

With very best wishes