Professional values and ethics

To just have an idea Notes—-not specific


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Professional values and ethics


Prescribed textbook reading

Chapters 3 & 4, pp. 58–88 & 94–112 from Chenoweth, L. & McAuliffe, D. (2015). The

road to social work & human service practice (4th ed.). Melbourne: Cengage Learning.

Chapter 12, pp. 244-271 from McDonald, C., Craik, C., Hawkins, L. & Williams, J. (2011).

Professional practice in human service organisations. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.


Ethics refers to moral standards of right and wrong that prescribe what individuals ought to

do when faced with choices regarding rights, fairness, responsibilities, the wellbeing of

others, and such. Ethics also refers to a branch of philosophy. Here we are concerned with the

former. Ethics shape values; values are the way we put our ethical framework into practice

and action when we relate to others, or undertake tasks.

For our purpose here, we might distinguish between four contexts for ethics, or moral

frameworks, which are likely to affect the practice of the community service worker:

personal, public, organisational and professional. All individuals would cite personal views

and convictions of what is right or wrong. Some hold to a set of ethical principles which are

based on the teachings of the religions they adhere to. Others draw on political and

ideological convictions. Public ethics include many widely accepted ethical norms, and are

usually reflected in the legal frameworks which mandate what people should do. For

example, when voting for the new Abbott government, a majority of people in Australia

thought it is wrong for people to come here „illegally‟, even if they are refugees who flee

persecution in their home countries. However, just because individuals or society hold to

particular ethical standards, it does not mean that they are „right‟.

Professional code of ethics

The most important aspect of a profession is its values and moral framework within which it

aspires to practice. The knowledge and skills of practitioners are, of course, fundamental.

However, unless the practitioner is guided in the application of her or his skills and

knowledge by the highest possible ethical standards, then that individual cannot be

considered a professional. A professional code of practice which includes a code of ethics

ensures that clients, colleagues and organisations can trust the practitioner to be ethical and

responsible in their work. In addition, a professional code of ethics provides all practitioners

in the profession with a standard set of ethical guidelines which means that there are set

expectations of what practitioners ought to base their practice decisions on.



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