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Tue 21 Mar

World Social Work Day - Respecting Diversity Through Joint Social Action

12.00 - 2.00pm


Protecting and promoting diversity has always been a key objective of social work. Social workers operate in different settings, working to assist individuals and communities in managing various risks and challenges. Labeling beneficiaries and ascribing identities, referring to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability status, caste or social class, are reflections of a social structure that brings about privileges but also marginalization, especially at the intersection of these categories, for example when social discrimination based on gender, race and poverty combine. Public policies grounded in these categories can either address historic injustices and overcome structural disadvantages in order to create conditions of equal opportunities or result in further marginalization.

WSWD 2023 celebrates the social work profession for being a considerable force to demand respect and defend diversity through the modalities of joint social action.

The theme for World Social Work Day 2023 is ‘Respecting diversity through joint social action’. It stems from the People’s Charter for a New Eco Social World and recognises that change happens locally through our diverse leaderful communities. WSWD2023 provides an opportunity to acknowledge how communities can make powerful actions that lead to inclusive social transformation. 

To date, confirmed speakers at this IASW event to celebrate World Social Work Day in Ireland include:

Mary Hurley (The Owenacurra Centre Campaign: A Case Study of Joint Social Action through Respecting Diversity)

Valerie Philpott (Putting children First- Ending Orphanage Care and Volunteering)

Aine McGuirk (Video on the Partnership between IFSW and the Kamianets-Podilskyi Districtn in Ukraine)

Áine Morris (Diverse Social Work Practice in the Probation Service)

Orla & Brendan O'Reilly (Trinity College, Dublin)

The event will be chaired by Anna Denneher, chair of the International Affairs Committee of the IASW.


Mary Hurley is a lecturer on the Masters in Social Work course in the School of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork.

She joined UCC in 2002 having previously worked as senior social worker in the areas of crisis pregnancy, fostering and adoption. Mary was on the panel of HSE counsellors working with survivors and families affected by contaminated blood products in the 1990's.

Since 2001 Mary has been heavily involved in an anti incineration campaign in her local community and more recently in the campaign against the closure of Owenacuurra mental health centre in Middleton, Co. Cork.

Mary’s areas of interest are in social activism, adoption and fostering and green social work.


Valerie Philpott is Safeguarding Officer with Misean Cara, an NGO working in the area of international development.

Valerie has qualifications in Anthropology and Social Policy and holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from University College Cork.

She has extensive experience working with many marginalised groups within the non-profit and statutory sectors. Valerie is passionate about child welfare and children’s rights.

Prior to taking up the position of Safeguarding Advisor at Misean Cara, she spent 6 years in Australia working in Child Protection. She has also worked as a social worker in Ireland in the area of fostering.


Aine McGuirk qualified as a Social Worker in 1978. A graduate of UCD and the IPA she has gained extensive experience in state and voluntary sectors providing services for children, vulnerable adults, marginalised groups (including travellers and persons affected by drug addiction) and their families.

Her experience encompasses both direct social work, social work management and whole service management. Aine has post graduate qualifications in social work, public service management and social work research.

Aine served on the board of the IASW for six years and held executive positions as Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer during that time. Aine is currently working with vulnerable families in the Dublin area.


Áine Morris studied Social Science and completed both a Masters in Social Work and Social Policy in UCD. Áine completed her social work placements in child, adolescent and adult mental health teams.

She has more than 20 years of experience working as a Probation Officer and has recently been promoted to the position of Senior Probation Officer.

Throughout her career, Áine has worked as a Probation Officer in Finglas and Ballymun, on specialist teams for homeless clients and community service. She worked in both the Dóchas Centre (Female Prison) and the Restorative Justice and Victims Unit. She is currently the Senior Probation Officer for South Dublin Inner City Team.


World Social Work Day