Diploma in Social Work students from Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL), in collaboration with UNICEF and the Malaysian Association of Social Work (MASW), organised an event that shed light on the crucial need to professionalise social work in Malaysia.
This event, aptly titled “Heroes Among Us – Change the Story, Change Lives”, served as a platform for discussing the proposed Social Work Profession Bill and its implications for the future of social work in the country. This initiative is part of the Service-Learning Assignment by MCKL’s Diploma in Social Work students.
The event held at MCKL Auditorium last month featured prominent speakers, including Madam Vijayakumari GA Pillai (MASW Life Member), Ms Jacqualine Yap (a MCKL Alumna and a social worker who focuses on undocumented community) Ms Florence Santhiavoo, a MCKL Alumna and a social worker focusing on women, children, and education, and the Guest of Honour, Professor Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria, who co-founded the DSW Programme at MCKL.
The “Heroes Among Us” campaign, initiated by MASW in collaboration with UNICEF, advocates for the enactment of the Social Work Profession Bill, aimed at acknowledging and supporting the vital role of social workers in Malaysia; ensuring that Malaysians have access to the best social workers.
This proposed bill includes measures such as establishing a register for professional social workers and implementing requirements for registration and certification supervised by a regulatory body. These changes are expected to enhance the quality and accountability of social workers while providing better training and job opportunities for them nationwide.
In his welcoming remarks, MCKL Chief Executive Officer Dr Chua Ping Yong emphasised the importance of elevating the social work profession and creating a more compassionate future for Malaysia, “Let us work together to elevate social work and create a better and compassionate future for Malaysia. Professionalising social workers in Malaysia is crucial as it is a commitment to the wellbeing of the community, especially for the helpless and the vulnerable.”
Madam Vijayakumari GA Pillai shared her 22-year journey as a social worker and highlighted how her life was transformed after becoming accredited. She stressed the significance of professionalising social work in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, during the Fireside Chat, Ms. Jacqualine Yap and Ms. Florence Santhiavoo, who are both also MCKL alumni, graduating with Diploma in Social Work, shared their experiences working with underserved communities.
Ms. Yap emphasised the need for social workers to be accredited and for the Social Work Profession Bill to be passed, stating that professional training had changed her perspective and equipped her to handle complex cases. Ms. Florence, on the other hand, described the 24/7 nature of social work and the importance of being courageous and dedicated to the job. Both speakers stressed the importance of empowerment and equal care for all individuals.
Professor Datuk Dr. Denison delivered a compelling speech that called for better exposure to the complex and different lives of people in Malaysia, “It is important for social workers to have a compassionate heart with a multidimensional approach when working with clients and to transcend the ethnic divide and to give everyone equal respect and care no matter the background.”
He also encouraged students to recognise the impact they can make on their communities as they graduate from the Diploma in Social Work programme.