Badisa BMDs and Supervisors
Badisa Managers: Social Services and Supervisors

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Badisa Revises Supervision Policy to Empower and Care for Social Workers

This year’s theme for World Social Work Day, which takes place on 19 March 2024, is “Buen Vivir: Shared Future for Transformative Change”, and serves as an important reminder of the transformative work that social workers do to promote positive change and build inclusive, sustainable communities.

The theme of “transformative change” resonates deeply with Badisa’s values and mission. Says Ronel van Zyl, Director of Social Services Programmes at Badisa, “The nature and changing circumstances of our industry calls for continuous adjustments in the way we view the organisation and do our work. We strive to provide excellent, professional and expert support and enable our staff to render the best possible services with the resources that are available. As such, Badisa has revised its Supervision Policy for social workers to ensure they remain relevant amidst facing significant social and economic challenges in South Africa.”

While assessing the needs of and competencies required by social workers in child protection and social work in general, Badisa saw an opportunity to amend its current supervision policy and procedures to place greater emphasis on adult learning principles, thereby improving reflective practices and creating a learning culture. Supervision forms an integral part of a social service practitioner’s growth and must be endorsed by theory and legislation. Says Ronel, “We want our social service professionals to do the right thing, at the right time and in the right place. As such, they need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to bring about change in the environment and in people.”

“It’s important to foster a culture of continuous learning and development among social workers as it provides staff with versatile and relevant skill sets and enhances their ability to build and retain critical skills vital for excellent service delivery and the organisation’s success. Furthermore, continuous development and learning helps to develop a workforce that is engaged, adaptable and resilient to face changes and challenges. We hope that the revised policy will contribute to the retention of skills and knowledge, generate innovative perspectives and practices, boost morale and raise overall performance”, says Ronel.

Probably one of the greatest crises facing Badisa and similar organisations in South Africa is the lack of state funding, which directly affects its crucial work in safeguarding vulnerable people, especially children. During the 2022/23 financial period, Badisa provided essential services to a staggering 349,965 children and families. However, the organisation experiences immense pressure as the high turnover among social work staff exacerbates the situation, primarily due to the inability to offer competitive compensation packages.

Amidst these challenges, Badisa remains unwavering in its commitment to deliver high-quality services and care, which includes the social workers in service of the organisation. Badisa offers support for its social workers in the form of supervision, peer support and through various workshops and courses. Badisa also offers supervision training to all supervisors and programme managers, which is conducted over a nine-month period and is followed up with quarterly peer group consultation sessions. Ronel adds, “Diaconia has graciously provided us with financial support which enables Badisa to refer social service professionals for debriefing and trauma counselling.”

Ronel explains that Badisa’s strategy to continue the positive momentum created by the revised Supervision Policy include continued research and forming partnerships with tertiary institutions, ongoing evaluation and reflection of current practices and obtaining feedback from social service practitioners and clients. As such, the policy will be adapted over time to remain relevant and aligned with emerging trends in the field of social work.

World Social Work Day serves as a reminder of the invaluable contributions that social workers make in communities across the world. With Badisa’s launch of the revised Supervision Policy, social workers are not only equipped to navigate the complex challenges they face, but they are also able to play a crucial role in creating positive and meaningful change in South Africa.