Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work Honours


Faculty of Regional Professional Studies

First Advisor

Lynelle Watts


Social work has a dual concern, focusing on individuals and on their environments; however the discourse of the profession tends to be limited to the social, interpersonal or familial environment. Given the prospect of the current 'ecological crisis' having significant impacts upon human well-being, this research sought to expand this conceptualisation of 'environment' to include the physical environment. This study aimed to explore whether citizens experiences of environmental problems could be understood as social justice and human rights issues. Using an unobtrusive form of qualitative research with various written and audio visual accounts from citizens from the community surrounding Yarloop the research explored and describes the impact of an identified environmental problem in a specific instance. A qualitative content analysis was conducted using Young's (1990) three primary categories of a non-distributive paradigm of social justice and Ife's (2006a) seven fold typology as an analysis framework. In undertaking the analysis a social work research praxis was developed which also incorporated Crotty's (1998) conceptual typology and emphasised the reflexivity of the researcher with regard to the subjects and objects of the study. This approach discerned between the 'action' and 'reflection' components of the inquiry and supported the notion of social research as practice. The findings of the study support the proposition that the degradation of the physical environment involves encroachments upon citizens' experiences of social justice and human rights. These experiences occurred as 'loss' across various dimensions of citizens lives. These encroachments manifested in forms other than the dominant notions of social justice and human rights. 'Distributive' forms of social justice and 'civil and. political' human rights were not appealed to by citizens, and were thus inadequate to conceptualise environmental problems.

Included in

Social Work Commons