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The Australian Association of Social Worker’s recently proposed to remove clause 8(d) in the AASW constitution that prevents persons who are convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for a period greater than 12 months from becoming or remaining a Member of AASW.  The board has not only ignored Social Workers with lived prison experience in the lead up to the announcement of the constitutional review but continue to actively exclude us by only requesting feedback from current members.  

We need all Social Workers, Social Work students, Academics and Service Users to show solidarity with criminalised Social Workers and students in the following ways

  • If you are a member of the AASW attend the Consultations on Monday 8 May to show verbal support for the removal of the clause and hold the AASW accountable for failing to include in the consultations Social Workers/students precluded from membership because of this clause.   You can register to attend the sessions 12:30 session here and the 6:00pm session here 
  •  Provide written feedback to the AASW by Thursday 11 May addressing “Do you believe that AASW needs to retain the clauses in AASW’s Constitution stating a person cannot be a member or a Director of AASW if they are convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for period greater than 12 months?” here

A link to the full feedback provided to the AASW from Sisters Inside can be found here, with a brief summary included below.

We believe that the AASW and all social workers have a critical role to play in ending carceral logics and practices, promoting social justice and advocating for the rights and dignity of all individuals.  The exclusionary clause perpetuates negative attitudes towards individuals who have been impacted by the criminal legal system, is discriminatory in nature and is rooted in systemic biases against people with criminal records, which often result in stigmatisation, discrimination, and exclusion.  The AASW should be advocating for the removal of discriminatory and exclusionary practices, not actively contributing to them.

The exclusionary clause also disproportionately affects individuals from marginalized communities, who face mass incarceration due to systemic racism and poverty.   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people of colour, people from lower socio-economic communities, and other vulnerable groups are more likely to be arrested, charged, and convicted of crimes.  To ensure ongoing transparent, fair, and consistent decision making we advocate for the involvement of Social Workers with lived prison experience in the AASW’s Ethics Complaints Management Process (ECMP) and that the AASW provide support and resources to criminalised Social Workers (and potential Social Workers) to enable them to overcome the barriers they face applying for membership.

Debbie Kilroy  

Chief Executive Officer  

Sisters Inside Inc

How can you help?

The Sisters Inside Fund for Children supports children of women in the criminal justice system to choose their own future free of the burdens so commonly felt while their mother is in prison.

#Free Her Campaign

This campaign has been set up by Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside Inc.  The funds raised will be used to release people from prison and pay warrants so they are not imprisoned.