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Posts from the ‘Child Protection and Social Media’ Category

E-Mail Trauma

Careers are made or broken by the soft skills that make you able to handle a very large workload.

– Merlin Mann

Recently we did a quick poll about how people engage with our e-news letter. We were interested to learn that 33% of the people who receive our e-news letter, and have chosen to receive it, don’t have time to click the links.  Now clicking  the links on our e-news letter is pretty important, because if you don’t click, you can’t read it! We could take this lack of clicking and not reading personally, but we won’t, because we’re all in the same boat! What does it mean, when we sign on to read newsletters and such, and never have the time to read them? What does it mean when we rely on email to keep us in the loop, manage our projects and time, set up our meetings and many, many other things, yet don’t get around to opening, reading and replying?

I’ve been asking practitioners about their email boxes. I’ve been hearing stories of people who at best have a love/ hate relationship with their email but very often want nothing more than to shut it down and never open it again. These aren’t unproductive or disconnected practitioners, quite the opposite. They are generally highly skilled and committed professionals who are doing the best they can to handle very large workloads. Email, they tell me, is a help yes, but it’s also a stress!

I share their sentiments. I’ve had many moments where I thought the best thing I could do to manage email overload would be to just delete everything and start over! There’s even a term for this, “email bankruptcy”. Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig , invented the term after finding himself inundated with an average of 200 non-spam emails a day and spending 80 hours a week sorting through unanswered email. Yikes!

Doing a bit of research, we find out that we’re not alone (whew), lots of people feel just like we do, and most of them are looking for solutions. The solutions seem to land in the area of either time or systems management. Time management solutions are like these found on Penelope Trunk’s blog, 10 Tips for Time Management in a Multitasking World. Systems management solutions are aimed at finding and better using technology to well …. manage technology. These sorts of solutions are aimed at becoming more organized and learning to use technology more effectively. They include ideas like these found in the Life Hacker article, Top 10 Email Productivity Boosters.

Both sets of strategies can yield us very useful tactics for the way we use technology and manage information. However, they don’t address the emotional and psychological cost of not keeping up. People talk about approaching their email feeling nervous, heart pounding,  breath held, dreading what they are going to find. They talk about postponing the moment of looking, or feeling compelled to look every 2 minutes just to make sure they aren’t missing something important. They talk about being worried that despite their best efforts they will miss or fail to follow up a critical email. One practitioner I recently spoke with even confessed that she has dreams about checking her email!

It occurred to me that when we are looking at tips to manage how we deal with email, we might also want to look at solutions like those found on this tip sheet, Managing Symptoms of Trauma

Questions! Have we crossed a line? Have we entered a place where time and systems management can’t touch the real issues of overwhelming workloads, insufficient time and the preposterous proposition of having to prioritize people and relationships into sub folders? Should we view email overload as a symptom of a greater problem? Are we willing to have strategic conversations professionally and organizationally to help us deal with the trauma of email? Has your organization already looked at these issues and if so, have you come up with any creative solutions?

Last, but not least, in the interest of doing things better, more humanely and efficiently, should we at PeakCare find alternative ways of sharing our news? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

Fiona McColl – Training and Sector Development Manager, PeakCare


Dancing With Myself

“No comment” is a comment.” 
— George Carlin

I have been dancing ballet for a year and a half. I love it. When I want to practice at home I usually do so in front of glass sliding doors that lead onto the balcony of the apartment that I live in. I do this because I can see my reflection and the sliding doors become like a mirror. The problem is that I need to practice without curtains so I can see my reflection. This means that everyone in the apartment block opposite mine can see me performing very, very poor attempts at pirouettes. I must say it is fairly funny and has become a laugh with friends in the apartments. This may seem unrelated but the topic of today’s blog is voyeurism.

The definition of voyeurism is changing. No longer is perving on someone dancing ballet in their apartment the definition of voyeurism. Voyeurism is now seen as observing the world online. Social Media has changed the way people observe and interact with each other.  I can go online and be voyeuristic. I can observe different blogs, websites, facebook pages, twitter account ect. No one needs to know my name; no one needs to know I am even doing it.

I feel the issue that online voyeurism relates to engagement. Let’s continue with the ballet analogy for a little while. Imagine if there were other people in the apartments that danced ballet in front of their sliding doors but never told anyone. Then imagine if I saw someone else dancing ballet in front of their sliding doors but I never said anything to them about how I do the same thing. We could continue to dance ballet in front of sliding doors without communicating with one another about our experience.

If I talk to the person who I have seen dancing like I do, then I change the dynamic. I am no longer being voyeuristic. I am interacting and engaging. Imagine what would happen if I spoke to the person dancing ballet in front of the sliding doors and told them I do the same thing. What would that mean for this person? What would it mean for me?

I think this would be a very powerful experience for both of us. I think that this is a key point about voyeurism. To me I feel really good when I connect with another person. I can’t connect if I am just observing. I think I need to engage to feel true connection.

Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people. The simplest form of engaging with online content is to click ‘like’. You can also comment on a person’s status and blog. You can share something online and direct other people to what you have seen. Check out this Mashable  article on creative ways you can engage with twitter beyond just following someone.

I want to talk about moving beyond voyeurism to engagement because I think the human services sector can really benefit from the interaction of workers online. Lots of people in our sector use social media in their personal lives and may follow blogs such as this one. Through engaging in social media we can move from voyeurism to action, and that action can be around social issues.

Imagine if I spoke to the person dancing ballet in front of their sliding doors about how I do it too. Then imagine if then we found more people who dance ballet in front of their sliding doors. Eventually we could gather a group together to buy proper mirrors instead of sliding doors. How good would that feel?

Imagine if we did that in the human services sector. If enough people interact with one another online and say the same thing this creates solidarity. How nice is it to know you are not the only one feeling like you are struggling to balance a case load? How good does it feel to connect with someone in the sector at trainings and seminars? Creating community and solidarity online can also lead to action about issues.

Commenting on a blog or facebook can be a scary way of interacting. It does involve some risk. Our sector often deals with sensitive issues which need to be talked about in inclusive, supportive ways. Another risk that may prevent people from interacting is saying something that may be different to their organisations stance on an issue. There are scary things that prevent people from interacting. Yet without interacting about the issues it only perpetuates the situation.

What I am proposing for this blog is to have a go at commenting on it. I will reply to as many comments as I can. If you feel uneasy about commenting perhaps you can comment by creating an alias. I am really keen to hear from you. I don’t want to be the only one dancing ballet in front of sliding glass doors !

Matthew Ross – Social Work Practicum Student on Placement with PeakCare

Talk To Me ….

What’s the point of being alive,” she said, “if you’re not going to communicate?
— Kurt Vonnegut

Well, here I am at PeakCare – the new Executive Director who has a thousand ideas running around in my head with most of those ideas containing the thought, “We must do something about this or something about that!”

As someone who is writing his very first blog post, my thoughts have also been about, “What do I write about in my first blog post that people will want to read?”  There is, after all, an onerous responsibility when writing a blog post for PeakCare – especially when you are the new Executive Director and you are wishing to seem at least somewhat sensible!

“So what do I write about?” has been a very difficult question with which I have been wrestling for several days.  “Do I write about this or do I write about that?”  As I said, there have been a thousand ideas running around in my head so to select even one has been a very difficult choice to make!

In the midst of these thoughts, it suddenly dawned on me that I was missing the whole point of this new-fangled “blogging business”.  This incredible tool isn’t there for me to simply tell you my ideas – nor is it about you passively sitting there reading my ideas.

This wondrous invention is there so that we can have a conversation!  Not only can I tell you about my ideas but you can also tell me about yours.  And not only that – we can actually both engage in a discussion about our ideas which other people can join in on as well!

So that’s what I decided to write about in my very first blog post as the new Executive Director.  This post is about me wanting to hear from you – and everyone else that reads this blog – about your ideas and the things you would like us to have a conversation about.

So talk to me about the ideas that you have had running around in your head at different times.  Talk to me about the occasions where you have thought, “PeakCare should do something about this or something about that!”  Let’s have a conversation about those things and invite others to join in also.

As in all conversations, there is a potential for some of the participants to either agree or disagree, but that’s okay!   In this field of working with children, young people and families, we all need the opportunity to share and discuss our ideas in an environment that provides permission for debate.

So talk to me!  Start typing now and let’s start out conversation!

Lindsay Wegener – Executive Director – Peak Care

Sold! Now What?

I don’t want to write anymore about why we need to embrace social media. Boring… That’s old news.


What I am interested in is the next step. How are we going to use social media to help marginalised people? In Peak Care’s context how are we going to help people to support children and families to prevent child abuse and neglect? How can human services take ownership of social media for good?

Social media is being used by business, by activists, media outlets and human service organisations. The challenge for our sector is how to use social media differently to promote positive change. I have been interviewing people over the phone in the sector over the last couple of weeks. I have found that there are a lot of people talking about social media and a lot of people using social media in our sector. Out of the people I have interviewed most people were very excited about social media. They were excited about its prospects. They found it had been useful to organise events and to share information. This is all great feedback.

What I found though, was that a lot of people were excited but they were also looking outside to try and work within. I think we are inspired as a sector by what we are seeing in advertising and media and trying to do similar things with social media. The impact this is having on our sector is that it limits our use of social media to either sharing information, organising events, building community and raising social issues. This is brilliant engagement but can we go further?

I think we can look deeper. I think we can develop processes of using social media that are unique to our sector. To me, if we look at the purpose of our sector we can find answers to how we can develop social media use unique to human services. Social media has so many different uses and there are so many forms of social media that exist beyond the topical ones such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

How can social media be used to support people who are marginalised? To me that is the biggest question and it relates directly to our purpose as human service organisations. Social media needs purpose. For Peak Care the purpose of engaging with social media is to build community within the sector and to communicate with organisations providing services to support child protection. For a human services organisation that provides direct face to face work with clients, the purpose for engaging social media will be different. The purpose for using social media is different again for organisations such as Get Up and Amnesty International.

To create an example to explore what I am trying to say, consider what it means to “LIKE” a page. Clicking “LIKE”on an organisations facebook page can be a powerful way of advocating and raising awareness about issues. When you click “LIKE”on an organisations page you receive updates from the organisation about what they are doing. This can help to raise awareness about events, issues and campaigns. However clicking “LIKE” on an organisations facebook page can be a meaningless activity if people do not engage in the content.

For clicking “LIKE” to truly work it is dependent on the context. A campaign about a social issue with 200 000 ‘”LIKEs” could be extremely successful in sharing information about the issue and in creating a movement. A community organisation that works as a drop in centre could also have 200 000 “LIKEs” on their facebook page which could create a substantial interest. It can be contested as to which would have more influence. I see the community organisation that has 200 000 “LIKEs” as less influential because the purpose of the organisation is to deliver services to people in the local community, not to create a movement.

The contexts differ for the two organisations and therefore the purpose underlying engaging with social media changes. The meaning attached to clicking like changes depending on the purpose of the organisation using social media. The purpose of social media is different for different organisations and people. I think this is where it becomes important to ask ourselves why we are engaging with social media. Are we trying to create awareness about social issues? Are we trying to find easier ways to organise events and keep stakeholders updated? Is it because our client’s are using it? Are we geographically isolated?

Our sector is about supporting people on the margins. Having 200 000 “LIKEs” may be awesome but does it help your organisation to fulfil its purpose? Social media is hip and happening and I think we can fall into the trap of trying to follow uses of social media that do not relate to human services. We are a unique sector. I am keen, as a part of the sector, to use social media in our own unique way to help people on the margins. I feel that openly reflecting on the purpose of our organisations can help to discern how we can creatively and uniquely use social media to help marginalised people.

Matthew Ross – Social Work Practicum Student on placement with PeakCare

The paradox of Social Media

Yesterday I sat down to write a blog post about the challenges of social media at 10:30 in the morning. By 4:30 I had written over 1000 words and I was no closer to finishing the post than when I started. Every challenge of social media I attempted to extrapolate had an equal positive spin. The more I wrote the more confused I became. The challenges of social media did not sit with me. Trying to identify the challenges of social media is a paradox. It is like trying to identify whether we ourselves are innately good or bad. It’s an age old question, good versus evil, and not only is it not an easy question, its also intensely subjective.

Presently, there is a lot of discourse in traditional media about the negative attributes of social media. Almost daily there are reports about how people are misusing social media for absolutely horrible purposes. I wanted to write a blog that acknowledges the anxiety that exists in the community about social media. To me it is important to discuss the potential issues and challenges of using social media before we begin to use it. I feel that ethically we have a responsibility to explore the potential harm that can be created through using social media. So I wrote about challenges of online safety, access, social media literacy, workload and privacy. Each one became a huge deconstruction. The conclusion I formed was that social media is not to blame for how it is used. Social media is the tool. It’s how people use social media that is the concern.

Discourse blaming social media for society’s ills is inaccurate.  The focus on social media being bad misses the mark about the issues it is being blamed for. Issues of identity theft, child pornography, bullying and pro-ana websites are very concerning issues that need to be addressed.  However these are not new issues nor are they the fault of social media. These are issues about how people use social media.

Social media is not bad anymore than a rock on the ground is bad. If the rock is picked up and thrown at someone does that mean the rock becomes bad? My opinion is that the rock is not bad even if it hits a person in the head. To me the action of the person throwing the rock is the harmful issue. The focus should not be on how bad social media is. The focus should be on the actions of people using social media.

The paradox of social media is part of a much greater paradox – the paradox that exists when human beings create technology. The video above discusses how we have created technologies throughout time without the true concept of their impact  .Throughout history human beings have been creating technology to make life easier. We created knives to hunt, printing presses for information, the car to cover great distances quickly and mobile phones to communicate on the run. Our list of technologies is endless.

Every concern I wrote about yesterday had an equally positive attribute. An example of this is online identity theft. A lot of people are concerned about giving credit card details out online because those details may get stolen. This is a concern. At the same time though, I and many others, have been using credit cards online for years without an issue. Does that mean that my positive experience of using my credit card over the internet is more legitimate than a person’s experience of having their details stolen over the internet? And therein lays the paradox.

The only potential concerns I managed to extrapolate from my writing yesterday were two questions:

Is social media making issues such as child abuse, mental health, homelessness, poverty, bullying ect more prevalent?

Does more harm exist if an issue occurs through social media than in another setting?

I don’t have answers to those questions.

I think we need to sit with the uncertainty. I feel that blaming social media for issues that exist in society is missing the point. I think that rather than trying to fight social media we need to begin to model how to correctly use social media for good. A lot of people are doing amazing things with social media and we can too. We need to address the issues that appear in social media just like we would address an issue if it were to occur in another setting. Blaming the tool for issues we are all responsible for? Isn’t that allowing for those issues to perpetuate?

Matthew Ross – Social Work Student, on placement with PeakCare

The Good News About Social Media

A fortnight ago – Wow! Has it been that long already? – I wrote a blog post about whether or not the Human Services Sector is resistant to innovation. This week I am going to try and sell social media. Ready for my spiel?

Ten Ways Social media could help the Human Services Sector to improve how we do our work

# 1 – Advocacy: Social media has recently been used in Egypt and Northern Africa to create movements. It is a great way of sharing information with a range of people about social issues. Social media is not confined to the same limitations as traditional media. Anyone can create information and anyone can comment on that information. The sharing of information can present issues of importance to a vast population of people. This can create discourse about an issue and help social change.  Check out the possibilities here.

#2 – Professional Development: Professional Development can now occur online. There are some tremendous organisations using social media in a really innovative way to support the Human Services Sector in Scotland and the UK. Check out the online library these guys at IRISS came up with. Resources can be posted online. Resources can be a variety of media such as videos, podcasts, powerpoint presentations, blog posts, links to websites and journal articles. Another great function of social media is it allows people to share ideas across various areas of human services. This can help delivery better services for clients.

#3 – Community Building: Online communities are being built using social media. Twitter, blogs and social networking allow people to build and maintain relationships with other people around interests they share in common.

# 4 – Connection: Connection sounds like a simple motivating factor to be engaged in social media but perhaps it is one of the most important? When I feel connected with another person I feel energised. Can you think about a time when you have met someone and felt a connection? I’d imagine it felt really good. Social media can allow us to connect with other people who share similar thoughts, values and beliefs. In our work we can feel isolated. At times we can feel like we are the only person who is doing anything to support marginalised people. Social media can help us to feel connected to the community. That is a powerful feeling. Check out some cool articles examples here and here.

#5 – Instant: Social media is instant. You don’t have to wait. Momentum can be built quickly and instantly. You don’t have to wait until the next meeting to talk about an issue again; rather, you can jump online and chat about it later that night or throughout the week. This instant ability can create momentum.

#6 – Transparent: If an organisation is using social media well, social media will make the organisation look good. An organisation may keep their facebook page, a blog and a twitter account well updated with relevant information that is helpful for their clients or other organisations. This will look good from the outside looking in.

#7 – Accountability: Another spin off from transparency is accountability. Social media shows people what we are doing. If we react to a situation without thinking it through this will show. To maintain reputation, organisations need to respond demonstrating best practice. The benefit here is for our clients and the sector. We all like to say we use best practice in many ways however there are times when we may not practice in the best way. If this happens through social media someone else will see and it won’t look good. Social media encourages people to use best practice.

#8 – Keeping up with the Joneses: It is important to keep up to remain relevant within the industry and to our clients. A lot of people use social media in some form or another. Using social media will allow organisations to stay cutting edge for funding and to engagement with our clients.

#9 – Free: Got the internet? You’ve got social media. Some social media sites will ask you to subscribe. That’s about it though. No fees.

# 10 – Accessible: At times we may have to attend meetings interstate or overseas. These meetings can be exciting and energising and they can also be tiring and busy. Social media allows for people to connect over large distances.

And a bonus thought!

# 11 – Timely: This is a bit different to being instant. Timely means that you can use social media at your own pace in an environment you are comfortable with. Want to talk to colleagues whilst in your pyjamas at home? If you’re me, probably not  J, but you can do this if you like. The beauty of social media is that it allows you to converse in an environment and at a time you feel comfortable.

Have I missed anything? Let me know!

I am currently working on some resources to help people understand and use social media. If there is anything you would like to know about social media leave a comment about it and I will try to include it in the resources.

Coming soon… the challenges of   social media.

Matthew Ross – Social Work Student, on placement with PeakCare

” New Media”, Old Media – How Do We Use It?

One of the cool features of  WordPress blogs is a snazzy little feature, called “clicks”. You find it under your overall blog stats and what it does is allow you to see which links people have clicked in your post. I am usually reluctant to reinvent the wheel when I am writing and so, rather than writing massive posts, will attempt to link my reader into further information or substantiating information about what I am writing about. The links aren’t meant to be exhaustive, rather jumping off points to more info or fill in the blanks – like how did I get from point A —> Conclusion B. My links hopefully show my trail of thought, much the way Hansel and Gretel relied on breadcrumbs.

Interestingly, what I have come to see is that not many people click the links. I’ve been asking around and other bloggers tell me the same. Even when they provide clear and accessible supporting or developing information via links, a considerable number of people fundamentally disregard them and fail to click.

This is important news to me, another example of just because I click my way through the world, doesn’t mean that others do. It goes to show you can never assume anything and you might have to do a little work if you want other people to try things in a different way. I have been thinking lately about the ‘new media’ as it relates to how we can use blogging as a tool for professional development and community building for the child and family welfare sector and was thinking back to a great post written awhile back by Arianna HuffingtonJournalism 2009: Desperate Metaphors, Desperate Revenue Models, And The Desperate Need For Better Journalism. One of the things she speaks about is ‘old media’ and the uneasy (antagonistic?) relationship it has with new media such as aggregated news, link economy, excerpts and expansions, citizen journalists and the way people have begin to directly interact with the news/media. As Arianna Huffington says in her post;

“News is no longer something we passively take in. We now engage with news, react to news and share news. It’s become something around which we gather, connect and converse. We all are part of the evolution of a story now — expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of view.”

These are exciting times. We are becoming increasingly aware of the way that information and news is constructed and that we can change the way that news is approached or understood by simply clicking a link, Googling (or whatever other search engines float your boat) for more information or a different perspective. We comment, we share, we expand and develop information simply by the way we interact with it. We don’t have to wait for someone to spoon us their version of the news, we can go out and hunt and gather until we have built our own news.

I read Arianna’s very provocative article and sucked in all the information about the role the internet currently plays (and is projected to play) in respect to journalism and print media – and marveled again at how difficult it is for some folks to accommodate change; yes I’m pointing at you ‘old media’ but I could easily be pointing any number of other directions; like education and professional development and training initiatives or perhaps even … my own sector at work!

Curioser and curioser, I have also shared the Shift Happens video, Did You Know 4.0. with a number of people who work in our sector and was a bit gobsmacked by some of the responses. I read the Arianna Huffington article and watched the video and came away with my ‘communication cup’ spilleth-ing over with possibilities; for my personal passions of writing and photography, of community building and connection but also,  professionally – oh yes, I can see possibilities for how we could possibly put these amazing communication advances to work for the child protection sector, particularly at the Peak Body/non government level.

Other people in the sector saw the ‘communication cup’ as having being turned over, with all the good stuff seeping away. But there we go, I feel incredibly positive about the progress of social networking, community building and the variety of social media platforms. I also feel more than a little bemused by all those who wish to halt progress and regress to a time and a place I really don’t believe ever existed.  Who will be the casualties in the wake of the swift and unstoppable force of change?  I dare say, it will be those people who refuse to progress or, as Arianna so beautifully metaphored, those intent on “merging into traffic riding a horse and buggy“.

So it seems a fair few people are not yet turned on to social media, ” new media” or this way of moving through their reading . They may still be used to and comfortable with passive exchanges of ‘news’ and information. Turn on the tv and channel 7 tells you what is happening (or at least what they think is happening or want you to think is happening). Have the paper delivered, or turn on your favorite radio station – same thing. We sit, listen or watch and have information ‘done to us’. Certainly this passive consumption of information can be less work and less challenging. We can listen, watch or read, call ourselves informed and be done with it. It is certainly less time consuming!

If old media approaches to information and news are your preferred choice – that’s cool. There’s plenty of that out there and I think there is a place for it. I ‘do’ the broad news in this way and it works just fine.  However,  this is my chance to send a little cyber-wave to the kindred people who are already merrily clicking along the new media ‘Information Exchange’ and make a heartfelt plug to encourage those readers who are not yet on the road, to boldly go forth into “New Media” land, click links, and interact with your reading!  And, when you’re reading my blog posts, I hope you will consider what I write as a jumping off point, rather than an end point. I sure do. And if you should find different information, or go down another path with the information I am linking, please do share your thoughts, and links – I’d love to click them!

Fiona McColl – Training and Development Manager – PeakCare

Innovation Resistance

Social Media, it turns out, isn’t about aggregating audiences so you can yell at them about the junk you want to sell.

Social Media, in fact, is a basic human need, revealed digitally online.

We want to be connected, to make a difference, to matter, to be missed. We want to belong, and yes, we want to be led.

~  Seth Godin

Social media is being keenly discussed by all at the moment. Blogs (like this one), Facebook, twitter, linkedIn, Flickr, Ning, Myspace, Bebo…  Social media is changing the way we manage disasters, the way we share and receive information and the way we socialize. People are divided about it. For every story on the remarkable use of social media, another story exists to negate the positives.

I am a current social work student completing my placement with Peak Care. My project for placement is to uncover what social media is all about, and whether it can be used by human service organisations to build community and support children and families. I hope to write a weekly post about social media. I am interested in canvassing people’s thoughts and feelings about social media. This week I thought I would begin by asking, “Is the human service sector resistant to innovation?”

Facebook lists over 500 million users. The company says that each user averages 130 friends and, on average, is linked into 80 community pages, groups and/ or events . That’s one hell of a network. World leaders such as Barak Obama and the Dalia Lama and organisations such as the United Nations have twitter accounts.

Recently we have seen how social media can be used to support people who are impacted by natural disasters. In Brisbane during the recent flooding the Qld Police Service provided up to date information using Facebook and twitter. This information could be accessed online much quicker than through print, television or radio. Another benefit was that people could quickly access information that was relevant to them rather than waiting for the information to be shown, talked or written about using traditional media. The system was not without its flaws. Criticism of using social media during the recent flooding was that some of the information circulating was not accurate or was out of date. However this criticism was isolated and the general feeling seemed to be that social media worked well.

Advertising has been trying to tap into social media for some time. Brands like Coca Cola and Red Bull and companies such as McDonalds all use innovative media such as Facebook to sell products.

What about the human service sector? More and more Facebook pages are being established by human service organisations. Yet it seems like the sector is a little behind. There are a lot of factors that could influence this. Coca Cola, Red Bull and McDonald’s are big companies that rely on selling products to survive. Coca Cola and Red Bull are pitched towards younger people who use social media more often. And the companies may have more money to invest in social media.

One argument that the human service sector is taking to the technology slower than other sectors is because of the possible harm of using social media and working with clients. There are concerns about privacy and confidentiality. There are ethical dilemmas and there is the possibility of someone posts something negative about a service. These are all issues that need to be addressed before an organisation looks to employ social media as a form of communication.

Yet there are so many exciting possibilities! Locally organisations are already sending e-newsletters about what they are doing.  Facebook and Twitter can be used as ways to value add to this process. Community can be built locally, regionally and internationally using social media. Sharing of ideas is not limited to a small group of organisations. I can go online and quickly see what organisations in Canada, the UK or India are doing to support marginalised individuals and communities. No longer are ideas and information controlled by a powerful few. How often do you leave a training session or seminar enthused but find that there is no one to share the enthusiasm with? Social media can help to maintain that enthusiasm and engagement. 500 million users is a huge network of people.

Social media seems to fit well with some of the values that underpin human service organisations. Values such as everyone has worth, everyone is capable of free thought and everyone has something to contribute form foundations from which we work. Social media provides a platform, unlike any other, for people to contribute both formally and informally, to services that directly affect them. Self advocacy and social movements can occur more freely by starting blogs or Facebook pages.

There are a lot of benefits to using social media. It is an exciting medium that can be used alongside other more traditional forms of communication to build relationships and communicate information quickly and easily. There are things that need to be discussed before embarking on the journey of social media. It seems like it is worth the risk though. At least it is worth discussing. I would love to hear from you about your thoughts.

PS/ Did you know that PeakCare has it’s very own Facebook page? Click the link and pop over, check it out, and show us some “LIKE”!

Matt Ross – Social Work Student, PeakCare