Contextual factors in an indigenous supervision model for forensic social work
Monosi, Tselane Salmina
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Social workers in forensic practice play a key role in assisting the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the field of sexual abuse investigation and reaching its aim of providing an effective and efficient specialised service to children who are victims of sexual abuse. One of the crucial aspects regarding the way forensic social work is practiced concerns the role of professional supervision in the workplace and specifically the model of supervision that is followed in the SAPS environment. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of the contextual factors of an indigenous supervision model for forensic social work in the SAPS. This study examined supervision from the supervisor’s perspective, rather than the supervisee or the beneficiary (the client) as this would more likely facilitate role clarification, structure and culture development. The total population of supervisors in forensic practice in the SAPS was included. The study was explorative-descriptive in nature. Data was collected through interviews, using a semi-structured interview schedule. The data was transcribed and eight themes were identified. The themes were the following: supervision, supervisor, communication, resources, geographical distance, caseload, National Head Office and indigenous nature of supervision. The themes were divided into sub-themes and a literature control was done. The study revealed that there was a lack of intensive supervision. Supervisors need training in supervision to orientate newly appointed forensic social workers and it should be done bi-monthly to provide them with skills. It was indicated that there was lack of adequate knowledge for supervisors on how to render supervision. Some of the supervisors were supervised by personnel from National Head Office. Supervision needs to be done by experienced social workers in forensic practice. A supervisor should be allocated a certain number of supervisees and not be responsible for the whole province. They also should have the necessary qualifications. The study also indicated that a lack of communication and instructions that were not clear between the supervisor and supervisee existed. Furthermore, there was a lack of resources and personnel to render efficient service. The research project was focused on clarifying the roles of supervisors within the FSW environment in SAPS, gaining an understanding of those formal and dynamic contextual factors contributing towards an indigenous organisational model or approach towards supervision and development. It is recommended that the SAPS Forensic Social Work service environment clarifies the uncertainty regarding a multitude of roles, including how, when and where supervision functions are to be performed and develop a standardised approach or model of supervision that is own to the SAPS.
- Humanities