World Social Work Day 2024: shared future for transformative change and health citizenship

10th April 2024

Author: Associate Professor Dianne Wepa, Head of Discipline, Social Work, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia

Dianne Wepa photo

World Social Work Day is observed every year on March 19th to raise awareness about the importance of social work and to celebrate the invaluable contributions of the social work profession. In 2024, the theme of the day is 'Shared Future for Transformative Change'. I’ve extended this theme to include health citizenship.

This theme aims to emphasise the importance of collaboration and collective action in achieving positive social change and fostering healthier societies.

Transformative change

Transformative changes requires a shared vision and a collective effort. Social workers lay a crucial role in facilitating this change by empowering individuals and communities to overcome barriers and disadvantages, promoting social justice and working towards a more equitable and inclusive society.

Health citizenship

Health citizenship as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a concept that highlights the active involvement of individuals and communities in promoting and maintaining a healthy society. It involves recognising and addressing the social, economic and political determinants of health, alongside the more traditional medical approach.

Health citizenship goes beyond individual responsibility for health and encourages collaborative action across different stakeholders, including governments, communities, healthcare providers and civil society organisations. It emphasises the importance of social, cultural and economic factors that shape health outcomes and advocates for equitable access to healthcare services for all.

Social workers contribute to health citizenship by:

  1. Advocating for social justice and health equity: Social workers advocate for policies that address health disparities and promote equitable access to healthcare for all. They work towards removing systemic barriers and creating inclusive systems that support vulnerable populations.
  2. Promoting health lifestyles: Social workers provide guidance and support to individuals and communities to promote health lifestyle choices. They facilitate access to healthcare services, education and resources that empower individuals to make informed choices about their health.
  3. Addressing social determinants of health: Social workers identify and address the social determinants of health such as poverty, housing, education and working conditions. They collaborate with other stakeholders to create policies and interventions that improve these social determinants of health.
  4. Engaging communities: Social workers actively engage communities in promoting health citizenship. They organise health education campaigns, conduct workshops and facilitate community dialogue to raise awareness about the importance of health and its impact on overall wellbeing.

Celebrating the social work profession

World Social Work Day is a special day to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of social workers around the world. It offers an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of social workers and raise awareness about the challenges and complexities they face in their work.

By recognising the contributions and sacrifices of social workers, societies can foster a greater appreciation for their work and continued support. This day is a testament to the social work profession making a positive impact on the lives of individuals and communities.

our goals

Healthier lives

We understand the importance of a world that recognises and protects the most vulnerable and acknowledges the importance of a healthy mind as well as a healthy body.