• Lambert Engelbrecht Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa.


The historical roots of the supervision of social workers in South Africa can be traced back to the year when the country first became a Republic (Pieterse, 1961). An official definition of social work supervision was provided ten years later (Vaktaalkomitee vir Maatskaplike Werk, 1971) and it was only another decade later that supervision was presented as a postgraduate course at some universities (Hoffmann, 1987). Academics such as Botha (1985), De Bruyn (1985), Hoffmann (1987) and Pelser (1985) played a significant role in conceptualising and theorising supervision as an important and essential activity in social work. In due course the transition to a new political dispensation and welfare system in the country in the 1990s led to, inter alia, a “brain drain” of supervision expertise (Engelbrecht, 2006), which was counteracted by the Department of Social Development in the first decade of the new millennium by means of a recruitment and retention strategy, and by declaring social work a scarce skill (Department of Social Development, 2006).


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