Globalisation has contributed to people migrating across national borders for different reasons, including economic hardships, political and social oppression, geographic and social factors (Triegaardt, 2009:1). Africans who seek refuge, asylum or an opportunity to improve their economic prospects and life within the borders of South Africa, face xenophobic attacks by black South African citizens, subjecting them to different forms and degrees of prejudice and discrimination (Adjai & Lazaridis, 2013:192). Rising inequality stifle economic growth, create poverty traps, wastes human potential and generate fertile ground for political and civil unrest, instability and heightened human insecurity (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs [UN DESA], 2013:22).
The goal of the study was to explore the contribution of social workers in promoting socio-economic equalities for asylum seekers and refugees in Pretoria Central.
The study utilised the qualitative research approach; it was exploratory and applied and made use of the instrumental case study design. The study adopted the non-probability sampling method, namely, purposive sampling to select eight social work participants from four Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) located in Pretoria Central. Data was collected by means of semi-structured one-on-one interviews.
Findings show that the exclusion of asylum seekers and refugees starts with their struggle to secure documentation that give them access to jobs, education and other
opportunities. Furthermore, in rendering services to asylum seekers and refugees, social workers mainly focus on material assistance, safe accommodation, statutory intervention and psycho-social support and lack a developmental approach with a focusing on integrated social and economic development. Findings also reveal that social workers collaborate with critical government departments and organisations, but not in a partnership that unites stakeholders to facilitate the promotion of socio-economic equalities for asylum seekers and refugees’ socio-economic rights.
The study concludes that the focus on traditional remedial practice, poor networking, inadequate coordination of interventions between government and NGOs and lack of representation at the level of policy advocacy and policy making, contribute negatively to social workers’ efforts to promote socio-economic equalities for asylum seekers and refugees.
The study recommends that social workers integrate a developmental approach in the provision of services, strengthen partnerships between governmental departments and NGOs and advocate for the socio-economic rights of asylum seekers and refugees.
Dissertation (MSW (Social Development and Policy))--University of Pretoria, 2019.