Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill

Summary of the Key Issues

  • It provides protection of the title of “Social Worker”
  • Initial competence assessments will only be required if there are doubts about the applicant’s competence to practice social work
  • Social Workers will not be required to complete five yearly recertification assessments
  • Professional development will become the mechanism for developing and maintaining competence

Registration will be ONLY mandatory for people:

  • Whose job description and or employment contract explicitly describes the role as “Social Worker”
  • Who call themselves a “Social Worker”
  • Who undertake ‘restricted tasks’ ie When an Act specifies the task must be done by a social worker.

People with a recognised social work qualification who are self-employed or employed in a role with a title that is not “social worker” eg Family Worker, Case Worker, Community Worker who do not claim to be a social worker, whose job description does not include the words ‘Social Worker’ and who do not do ‘restricted tasks’, will not be required to either hold an APC if they are already registered or register as a social worker.

The Cabinet Paper (Paragraph 34 P7) determined that defining social work would be difficult hence limiting registration to roles called “social work”:
“…the boundaries of what is and is not social work are not distinct from many other social service and health sector occupations, so it would be impossible to define social work without affecting a wide range of related occupations, which undertake similar tasks and require similar skills…….. licensed occupations such as real estate agents and teachers can be defined narrowly or by reference to an employer. In the health field, various tasks requiring particular skills can be defined with great precision. None of these approaches are transferable to the social work profession.”

Social work practice is clearly defined in the Global Definition of Social Work developed by IFSW, IASSW and ICSW. http://ifsw.org/get-involved/global-definition-of-social-work/

As proposed, mandatory registration protects the title of social work but not the practice of social work.

The employer would have the power to define who is and is not a social worker through job descriptions and or employment contracts. If they decided that what the employee was doing was not ‘social work’ then they do not have to fund APCs, professional supervision or continuing professional development – which might be very tempting for some employers. No other professional regulatory law nationally or internationally gives the employer the power to determine whether or not their employee is practicing their profession.

People without social work qualifications could be employed in roles traditionally be considered a social work role and would not require registration. This is inconsistent with the Cabinet Paper statement (Paragraph 23 p 4)
“Given that the existing system does not fully cover the social work profession, legislative reform offers an opportunity to clearly articulate changes needed to increase professionalism of the workforce, ensure competence of social workers, and improve protections for vulnerable clients from inappropriate and potentially harmful social work practice.”

ANZASW will address the concerns in the Select Committee submission, and in particular, registration of title only and the ability to enable employers to define whether or not a role is a social work role. Your participation is encouraged as we work to protect the profession of social work.

Member opinions are invited & can be posted on http://anzasw.nz/forums/topic/social-workers-registration-legislation-bill/ or emailed to Lucysandford-reed@anzasw.nz.

Relevant Documents/Links