Social Workers Involvement in Taiwan’s 1999 Earthquake Disaster Aid: Implications for Social Work Education

Yueh-Ching Chou

Abstract

On September 21, 1999, a strong earthquake devastated Taiwan’s central areas and claimed more than two thousand casualties. Social work roles in the disaster aid were surveyed with standardized questionnaires six months after the earthquake; in addition, interviews of the key informants, documental research, focus groups and open-ended questionnaires were utilized to collect qualitative data. The study found that social workers had significant roles and functions in both rescue and recovery stages especially in linking the victims’ needs with resources. Social workers, including from public and private sectors as well as from campuses including the faculties and students of social work departments, have been deeply involved in helping the victims. Regrettably, most Taiwanese social workers participated in the rescue aid with limited training in disaster aid; social work practice in disaster aid is not included in current curriculums of college level. This means that social work roles and functions in the disaster aid process have not been fully realized by Taiwan’s society and professional education.

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