Professionals from Bosnia and Herzegovina who attended the B-H Social Work Conference on 17 October, in Banja Luka, agree on the necessity of improving the position and status of professional social workers, and of promoting the value of social work and its role in society.
The Conference was organized by the Republic of Srpska Association(s) of Social Workers, with support from the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Child Protection Hub Project, Save the Children and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Srpska. It brought together 180 participants—representatives from most of the social work centres across B-H, from government institutions from both entities (RS and FBiH) and Brčko District BiH, and from INGOs and government institutions from Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia.
Sandra Dobrijevic Sipka, Vice President of the Republika Srpska Association of Social Workers, emphasized the importance of networking between professional associations from the Republic of Srpska, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brcko District, as well as the countries in the region: ‘We have the honour to promote the importance of networking with professional associations. We invite all decision-makers to participate in the promotion of the position of social workers through the professional advancement and the advancement of the position of professional workers.’
Pavle Paunic, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Srpska, emphasized that social work is an important, responsible and noble activity which is of special social interest.
Mirnes Telalovic, on behalf of the FB&H Association of Social Workers, emphasized the importance of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina passing the Law on Social Work in Federation, establishing the Chamber of Social Workers, licensing and mandatory training for social workers. He also emphasized the importance of unions in the field of social protection.
The following future points of action were discussed:
- Introducing the status of “official” for a professional worker in social protection
- Regulation of licensing and professional development issues
- Introduction of control over the work of social welfare institutions and social work supervision
- Advocacy and involvement in the process of organizing trade unions
- Organizing activities that would contribute to a better and more adequate role of the media in promoting social protection
- Establishment of the Social Protection Institute in the RS (which is a legal obligation established by amendments to the Law on Social Protection of the RS in 2012)
- Urgent amendment of the RS Family Law to the initiative submitted in 2017 by representatives of associations and professionals in the field of social protection
The conference also confirmed the importance of regional cooperation regarding the establishment of the Balkan Center for the Advancement of Social Welfare, whose main objective is to encourage cooperation between the welfare systems of the countries in the region—namely the Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia.