Abstract

Summary: This article reports on research exploring the perspectives of Australian social work and human service professionals about environmental practice. An online survey consisting of quantitative and qualitative questions was conducted, recruiting 303 participants from the human services sector. Quantitative data were analyzed descriptively using SPSS and qualitative data analyzed thematically using NVivo. Findings: Overall, results indicated that participants strongly supported an environmental focus in human services at personal and professional levels of practice. However, while participants expressed values supporting environmental practice, its implementation was less frequently reported. The adverse impacts of climate change were reported as strongly impacting the well-being of service users, and a general lack of support from employing organizations to facilitate environmental practice was evident. Despite a strong belief in the value of Australian First Nations knowledges, limited engagement with Australian First Nations peoples was practiced. Applications: Implications suggest the need to examine the practical realities of environmental practice including the disconnect between values and action. Given that participants reported adverse impacts of climate change on people and communities, but faced significant challenges implementing environmental action, the need to disrupt barriers caused by the dominant neoliberal discourse is critical. Likewise, disrupting the prevailing colonialist discourse by working alongside First Nations peoples to decolonize society and the profession is essential for enacting principles of environmental sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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