The University of Venda (UNIVEN) co-hosted and celebrated the 2024 World Social Work day Symposium jointly with the University of Limpopo (UL) and the Department of Social Development of Limpopo Provincial Government. The Symposium was held at UNIVEN C1 Education Lecture Hall from 18 to19 March 2024. This was the 2nd Symposium hence the 1st Inaugural Symposium took place in Polokwane in 2023. The celebration of the World Social Work day took place under the theme ‘Shared future for transformative change.’
The event was graced by the presence of the MEC for Social Development, Mme Nandi Ndalane. When addressing Social Work professionals including Students in the profession and other invited stakeholders, the MEC said “the symposium serves as a beacon of hope and empowerment, designed to equip you with new knowledge, tools and strategies to enhance your capacity to effect positive change in the communities you serve. The knowledge you gain here will not only strengthen your skills but also empower you to innovate, collaborate and be resilient in the face of adversity.”
As key drivers to transformative change in our society, she further said “by sharing our visions aligning our goals and working collaboratively we can overcome challenges, break barriers, and create a more inclusive equitable and just world for every individual.”
The MEC indicated that as a department they are grateful of this partnership and trust that it will have meaningful impact into this critically important profession. In addition, she pointed that “the department continues to grow the collaborations with the Non-Profit Organizations employing Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers within the province to serve our communities.”
She acknowledged the presence of representatives from the Department of Health and Correctional services and mentioned that through this symposium they will strengthen their relationship and collaborate at technical level for the benefit of our communities.
The MEC urged the people present to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and let our shared vision guides us towards a future where every person is valued, respected, and empowered.
She finally commended social workers for their tireless efforts and thank them for being the heart and soul of transformative change.

As the host, the University of Venda’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Bernard Nthambeleni when welcoming the guests, shared the University strategic location which is within the UNESCO, Vhembe Biosphere Reserve that has a unique rich biodiversity, which offers us a remarkable advantage to leverage the region’s rich biodiversity and unique environmental context for the development of relevant and impactful programme qualifications.
Among other things, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal spoke about positioning the University for impact and relevance. He showed that the University should not only excel in teaching and learning but should also aim to be relevant and responsive to the needs and challenges of the communities around us.
Prof Nthambeleni expressed that the theme for 2024 World Social Work-Day Symposium that is ‘Shared Future for Transformative Change’, emphasises the need for social workers to adopt innovative, community-led approaches that are grounded in indigenous wisdom and harmonious coexistence with nature. He reminded people that social work is not simply a job
but a calling, a commitment to serving humanity with compassion and dedication. The Vice- Chancellor further indicated the importance of social workers as they are catalysts of systemic change, advocating for policy reforms and institutional improvements to address root causes of social problems. As he continues, he described social workers as bridge builders’ fostering collaboration between communities, organizations, and government agencies to create sustainable solutions for a better tomorrow.
In conclusion, Prof Nthambeleni commended the Department of Social Development and the two universities of Venda and of Limpopo for jointly organising and hosting this important symposium that will provide a powerful approach to responding to complex problems that isolated efforts cannot solve.

The University of Limpopo’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning, Prof Richard Madadzhe expressed a message of support. In his message he highlighted that students that we produce must be caring in such a way that they are fully professionals in their profession who will not divulge information of their clients. His message was central to uBuntu, which means a person is a person through another person; therefore, we need each other in many ways.
Other messages of support came from the UNIVEN’s HoD of Social Work Department, Dr Jimmy Budeli; representatives from Limpopo Tourism Agency (Mr Chris Ramoshaba); Limpopo Gambling Board (Mr Walter Mashilo) and Limpopo Liquor Board (Dr John Mudau).

The Acting Chief Director of Social Welfare Services, Ms Kgomotlokoa Maibele presented the state of the Social Work Services in Limpopo. She spoke of the key legislations that are fundamental in the Social Work services. Ms Maibele also highlighted the achievements of the Department of Social Development.

MEC for Social Development (middle) poses for a photo with other dignitaries.

When introducing the MEC, the Head of the Department of Social Development, Ms Dudu Setlatjile stated that social work is not static but dynamic, hence it changes with the culture we adopt.
On day two the Symposium was chaired by Mrs Khomotso Rakgoale with four breakaway sessions discussing issues related to Customer/client care, redefining social work professions, supervision challenges and the impact of service delivery. These breakaway sessions came
up with solutions from the discussed challenges and it was discussed that the solutions will be implemented when they go back to their respective workplaces.
The session was closed by Ms Veronica Nemutandani with a vote of thanks. She indicated that the successful culmination of this symposium was truly enlightening more especially because it was supported by leaders from two universities and the MEC.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 28 March 2024

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