Social Work as a profession has a long tradition of addressing people’s welfare, specially the poor, marginalised and disadvantaged. It contributes   significantly to the pursuit of caring, inclusive, just and sustainable communities and societies.

In Southeast Asia, social work practice and education have developed at an uneven pace amidst diverse but interconnected historical and social contexts. This situation encourages social workers to support and learn from each other, and work collaboratively. Moreover, our region is also caught in the global and national crises at various fronts – ecological, economic, and financial – which pose serious threats to people’s security and well-being. Hence, it heightens the need for social workers to create synergies in analysis and action, and weave national perspectives and experiences into regional ones  as we forge unity and solidarity.

It is in this context that we, seventy-five social work  practitioners and educators, and social welfare officials from the ten ASEAN Member States, welcome the  establishment of the  ASEAN Social Work Consortium (ASWC). We recognise with gratitude the groundbreaking efforts of our colleagues who drafted the Terms of Reference of the Consortium during the Planning Workshop to Establish the ASEAN Consortium of Social Welfare Practitioners, Educators and Schools of Social Work in Manila in August 2008. We are honoured to take part in this historical First ASEAN Social Work Consortium Conference on 1-3 March 2011 in Manila, The Philippines.

For the first time, we have a regional cooperative arrangement that brings together social work practitioners, educators and schools of social work. The ASWC envisions stronger solidarity among its members. It is a timely and relevant mechanism to promote the formal recognition and development of Social Work as a profession in ASEAN Member States, to exchange ideas, expertise and other resources, and to develop partnerships in the conduct of   research, advocacy, knowledge generation and management, capacity-building, and strengthening professional organisations and networks.

Through the ASWC, we hope to raise our regional voice and contribute to the ongoing process of enriching and finalising the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.

Fully recognising our shared responsibility as an ASEAN Community, we are committed to the realisation of the vision and purposes of the ASWC. Towards this end, we have adopted the ASWC Work Plan for 2011-2014 and committed ourselves to implement it and its corresponding national plans with focus on three key result areas: Capacity Building, Knowledge Production and Management, and Strengthening of National Social Work and Regional Welfare Institutions. We have also agreed on the initial actions to jumpstart the implementation of the Work Plan.

The succeeding ASWC Conferences have been set for 2012 in the Philippines and 2013 in Thailand.