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Abstract

This qualitative mini-ethnographic study explores the current issues facing the profession of social work in South Africa after the first fully democratic elections in ten years ended the apartheid era. It employed interviews with social work educators and practitioners, politicians, and other professionals; personal observations of diverse settings; conversations with citizens including blacks, whites and coloreds; and meetings with experts attending an international conference on African policy planning. Social work educators and practitioners generally agreed that the two major social problems currently facing South Africa are poverty and violence. Poverty-related issues include homelessness, substandard and dangerous housing, substance abuse, unemployment and inadequate education, lack of adequate health and mental health services (HIV/AIDS rarely mentioned), plus victimization by crime-related violence and domestic abuse.

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