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Australia's peak social workers' association appoints first Aboriginal president

Giovanni Torre -

The Australian Association of Social Workers has appointed Bigambul woman Linda Ford as the first Indigenous president in the association's history.

Ms Ford brings experience and expertise to her new role, having served on the Association (AASW) Board since 2017, demonstrating "strong leadership and a deep commitment to social work", the organisation said on Wednesday.

Ms Ford said that as the first Aboriginal President of AASW, she is "honoured and excited to lead our members into a new era of growth and progress".

With a career spanning over 26 years, Ms Ford has contributed to many sectors in rural and urban settings, including child protection, health, mental health, and tertiary education. Her contributions have been recognised nationally and internationally, including her appointment as the Australian representative for the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) Indigenous Commission.

Ms Ford's journey within the AASW includes roles such as past president of the Association's North Queensland Branch and Chair of the Association's Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.

"As we move forward, my focus remains dedicated to elevating the profile of the social work profession. Building upon the strides made in advancing national registration and creating better relationships with similar sectors," she said.

"I am committed to further amplifying our impact and showcasing the multifaceted contributions of social workers. Together, we will continue championing social workers' diverse and invaluable role in our communities."

Ms Ford's leadership will support the board to drive the association's mission forward, "ensuring social work's continued development and advancement nationally and internationally", the Association said.

She, alongside other Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander board members, Galari woman of the Wiradjuri nation, Professor Sue Green, and Wiradyuri Wambuul woman Dr Jess Russ Smith, provide leadership to the association on various issues through their governance work.

The Australian Association of Social Workers is Australia's professional body for social workers. As well as representing and supporting social workers in their essential work, the Association set the benchmarks for professional education and practice in social work.

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