Linda Greeff (left) and Hannetjie Opperman (right), co-founders of the SAOSWF
The South African Oncology Social Workers’ Forum was founded in 2000 by Linda Greeff in the Western Cape and by the late Hannetjie Opperman in Gauteng, both motivated by a desire to increase the knowledge and skills base of social workers who found themselves in medical or oncology settings in South Africa.
In 2008 Linda was successful in having the SAOSWF members admitted to the Association of Oncology Social Workers (AOSW) as Region V members, which entitled our local oncology social workers to link more directly with other practitioners, especially those in the United States.
In 2009 the SAOSWF was admitted to the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) Federation as an Associate Member – this being due to the fact that our association exists for one professional group primarily, rather than having a multi-disciplinary representation.
Since its inception, the SAOSWF has worked hard locally to obtain increasing recognition for the skills and contributions that oncology social workers can make to whole patient care. Our members have proudly presented at the former Pan-African Psycho-Oncology Society (PAPOS) conferences, and have actively participated in the bi-annual SASCRO/SASMO conferences held in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.
In the early years of SAOSWF, combined national congresses were held with the national oncology nursing society (NONSA) in 2003, 2005 and 2007. We were fortunate to have contributions at some of these congresses from social workers from the AOSW who shared their knowledge and insights. Additionally, oncology social workers in this country have presented their work at the ICON (Independent Clinical Oncology Network) conferences in 2012, 2014.
Our members are, in their own right, active members of many different professional organisations and advocacy groups. Several have published pieces in peer-reviewed journals. Many members have been able to attend conferences abroad where their work has been shared and showcased.
A Group of Oncology Social Workers in Cape Town, 2011
Above: SAOSWF members at the first combined conference with the oncology nurses association (NONSA) in Gordon’s Bay, 2003