SOCIAL workers from across Australia attended the Rural Social Work Conference in Horsham last week.
The two-day event, at the Horsham Church of Christ, showcased how social workers respond to challenges, engage with community and involve in innovative practice.
The biennial conference was in Horsham for the first time, since its inception in 1990.
The Canopy executive officer Lee-Anne Holmes said the conference's primary focus was to reflect on the work of social workers in rural communities.
"The conference is about the value of working together and collaboratively," she said.
"Social work is critically important - especially in rural and regional areas. It's not the same as it is in larger areas. It's important to have social workers in rural areas - to able to work with people, but also to be to able to identify and advocate for change."
Rural Social Work Action Practice Group convenor Peter Quin said the conference also supported rural social workers.
"We believe it is important to make the effort to get out and bring people into the communities, to show how we really care about the practice," he said.
Mr Quin said the conference aimed to incorporate social theory into practice.
"We want workers to talk about experiences in the field, to share the knowledge that they have and impacts that is having on the clients and the community," he said.
"We want to work as best as we can - as a common aim to improve the care for people."
Conference facilitator Vynka-Lee Neighbour, of Horsham, said there was a need for such conferences in rural communities.
"I have gone to these conferences nearly every two years ever since they started. I always had to travel," she said.
"We don't get access to networking and training. We don't get access to our professional development without getting in the car and driving long distances. I really wanted to reflect that this is for rural and remote people - it should be in a rural area."
Ms Neighbour said people from across Australia attended the conference.
"People have come from all over the place and that has been amazing. On Thursday, Owen Cress, one of the guest speakers, flew himself here from South Australia to come and talk," she said.
Ms Neighbour hoped to disperse the message of community building across the Wimmera.
"There is information that I have already seen people are really interested in, and are going to take back to their organisation. A worker from Warracknabeal learnt some interesting topics that he's going to be taking back. It's going to have a flow-on effect in the Wimmera," she said.
"It is going to be good for Horsham and Wimmera, and as a side note we have been showcasing Horsham to Australia."
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