1st Edition

Social Work and Disasters A Handbook for Practice

    264 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity across the world, causing significant destruction to individuals and communities. Yet many social workers are ill-prepared for the demands of this field of practice. This book discusses the role of social workers in disaster work, including in disaster-preparedness, during the disaster and in post-disaster practice.

    It addresses the complexities of social work disaster practice, noting the need for social workers to understand the language of trauma and to respond effectively. The authors discuss disaster theory and practice, drawing out elements of practice at macro-, meso- and micro-levels and at various stages of the disaster. They examine the factors that shape vulnerability in disasters and draw out the possibility of post-traumatic growth. The final section discusses strategies for self-care in disaster practice, noting the organisational and personal strategies that can be adopted to facilitate the wellbeing of workers in the field.

    With real-life case studies from top scholars in the field, this book is essential reading for social work practitioners working in the field of disaster practice, as well as social work students and academics. It will also be useful to other health professionals who wish to understand this field of practice.

    List of case study authors; Introduction; Part I – Theories for practice in disaster social work; Chapter 1 – Social work and the environment: an historical overview; Chapter 2 – Global policy contexts; Chapter 3 – Providing conceptual clarity; Chapter 4 – Theories of social work and the environment: incorporating disasters; Part II – Practice theories; Chapter 5 – Disaster social work practice; Chapter 6 – Community-based practice: working at the meso-level; Chapter 7 – Trauma, grief and loss – meso- and micro-levels of disaster practice; Chapter 8 – Social workers and disasters: organisational contexts; Part III – Vulnerability, resilience and intersectionality; Chapter 9 – Factors shaping vulnerability; Chapter 10 – Gender and disasters; Chapter 11 – Vulnerable populations; Part IV – Social workers engaged in disaster practice; Chapter 12 – Social work and self-care; Chapter 13 – Shaping social work disaster practice; Index


    Margaret Alston is Emeritus Professor of Social Work at the University of Newcastle, Australia, and Emeritus Professor at Monash University, Australia. Previously, she was Professor and head of Social Work at Monash University for ten years and prior to that Professor of Social Work at Charles Sturt University, Australia. She has headed up the Gender, Leadership and Social Sustainability (GLASS) research unit for several years. She has undertaken multiple studies with people affected by disasters in Australia, the Pacific and South Asia. Her particular focus has been on the gender impacts of disasters. She has published widely in the field of gender and disasters, social work and rural social issues. She has been an invited keynote speaker at a number of national and international conferences.

    Tricia Hazeleger is an Australian rural social worker with a professional practice background in generic case work, community development, tertiary social work education, project management, community action research and public service policy development.Tricia was a member of the Victorian Gender and Disaster Taskforce (2014–2017) and the Municipal Association of Victoria’s Gender in Emergency Management Advisory Group (2012–2014), co-ordinator of the Gender Edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management (2013) and a team member in the international Rebuilding Lives Post Disaster research and subsequent publications (2013–2018).

    Desley Hargreaves, PSM, is a Consultant Social Work Practitioner with particular interests in disasters and professional leadership. Prior to her retirement from the Australian Public Service in 2013, Desley headed up the National Social Work Service in Centrelink. Desley has had extensive experience in disaster recovery within Australia, and offshore, including establishing with her team an offshore service to Australians impacted by terrorism or natural disasters in other countries. Desley has published in this field and has been an invited speaker to a number of national and international conferences. 

    'A groundbreaking book that brings together the challenges, the strengths and the responsibilities of social work in the face of natural and man made disasters. It provides thought provoking examples that all contribute towards positive and constructive change.' - Professor Barbara Fawcett, Head of Department of Social Work and Social Care, Director of International Partnerships, University of Birmingham

    'A handbook for social workers who are working in disaster situations, or would like to be professionally prepared for such work, has been sorely needed. This book fills that significant gap in the social work literature with thoughtful and extensive use of case studies, outlining the theoretical and social context of disaster social work, and demonstrates intimate knowledge of social work practice in this field. An excellent reference book.' - Jennifer McKinnon, Adjunct Professor, Charles Sturt University

    'This book uniquely examines historical and current disaster policy, theory and practice from a social work perspective. Authored by three expert social workers in this field, it challenges us all to think critically about our roles in disaster contexts. Importantly, it offers insights for practice in disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Case studies from international contributors highlight both the diversity and commonality of social work responses around the world.' -  Professor Lou Harms, Associate Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Deputy Head, Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne