Competence Assessments FAQs

The relationship between ANZASW and SWRB

Where does the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) fit with the Social Workers Registration Act?

The Social Workers Registration Board is a Crown Agency established under the Social Workers Registration Act 2003. SWRB is separate from and independent of the ANZASW.

The function of SWRB is to protect the safety of members of the public by ensuring social workers are competent to practice and are accountable to practice (SWR Act 2003 Section 3).

Note: The Social Workers Registration Act 2003 can be found online at or purchased through Bennetts Bookshop in Wellington.

ANZASW is an Incorporated Society run by members for members.  ANZASW is the professional body for social workers and provides a wide range of member services including competency assessments,  Professional Indemnity Insurance, CPD, publications and other resources. 

Both SWRB and ANZASW provide Competency Assessment services. The ANZASW competency and recertification assessments are accepted by SWRB for the purposes of registration and issuing Annual Practicing Certificates.

If social workers have an ANZASW Certificate of Competence and wish to become registered, they must apply to the SWRB for registration. ANZASW cannot register social workers.

Do I have to Complete an Initial Assessment and Recertification Assessments with both ANZASW and SWRB?

You complete your Initial Competence Assessment with either the SWRB or ANZASW. When you are ready to recertify your competence toward the end of the 5-year period, the same applies.

N.B., You complete your initial and recertification assessments with either the SWRB or ANZASW. Our point of difference is that we can arrange a Niho Taniwha framework assessment for initial competency assessments for our Tangata Whenua Members if that is the applicants wish.

I will be recertifying through ANZASW. Will my SWRB log be accepted as evidence of CPD rather than recopying it into the ANZASW format?

Yes, ANZASW accepts either our CPD Log template or the SWRB template. However, the SWRB does not accept the ANZASW template for recertification.

My SWRB competency is due in April 2018. Can I complete this before end Dec 2017?

Yes, you may, however your new Competency date would be the date of your actual assessment and not when it was due.

What is the process if I decide to do my recertification with ANZASW having done it previously twice with SWRB?

When your recertification is due you can complete this assessment with either SWRB or ANZASW. Having completed two previous assessments with SWRB does not prevent you from selecting ANZASW for your next assessment.

Is SWRB registration required annually with the Annual Practice Certificate in June of each year?

An application for registration occurs once. A registered social worker remains on the Register until:

  • They are struck off (Section 38(1)(a)(i))
  • They apply to de-register and this is granted by SWRB (SWR Act 2003 Section 127)
  • They die SWR Act (Section 128)


A practicing registered social worker must hold a current Annual Practising Certificate.

Renewal of an Annual Practising Certificate can be completed on line and SWRB requires payment before 30th June each year.

Competency Assessment Requirements

What are the requirements for Competency Assessment?

Please visit our website for information on:

  • Initial Competency
  • Recertification Competency

Initial Competence Assessment

What is the process for Initial Competency with ANZASW?

Social Workers holding a recognised social work qualification submit a written portfolio to ANZASW for assessment. The Portfolio is assessed by a Competency Assessor.

Provisional Members without a recognised qualification submit a written portfolio and meet with a Competency Assessment Panel. The Panel Meeting may be in person or via Skype.

Portfolios must be submitted by email to

If you require a Panel assessment, 3 hard copies of your completed Portfolio must be couriered to ANZASW, National Office, Christchurch.

There is an additional charge for face-to-face assessments.

Click here>> to see the fees associated with competency assessment.

Legislation for mandatory registration of social workers was introduced  to Parliament 17th August 2017 when the First Reading of the Bill amending the Social Workers Registration Act was completed and the Bill was referred to the Social Services Select Committee when Parliament reconvenes after the 2017 Elections.

Members who do not have an SWRB recognised qualification ( are encouraged to explore eligibility for a Section 13 application to register or enrolment in a recognised qualification and seek provisional registration. In either case it is recommended that the member has a conversation with the SWRB Registrar [Registration & Education].

I am a Tangata Whenua Social Worker. What are my options for initial competency assessment?

Tangata Whenua members are able to discuss the initial or recertification competency assessment process with one of the Tangata Whenua Assessors prior to commencing their portfolio. Request contact details from the Competency Co-ordinator. 

Initial Competency

  1. If the member does not hold a recognised qualification (Schedule 1, 2a or 2b of the SWR Act) they must complete a Panel Assessment and can opt for options 3, 4 to 5 below or a regular panel process managed by whichever Assessor is available.
  1. If the member holds a recognised qualification (Schedule 1, 2a or 2b of the SWR Act) the member is able to submit a written portfolio and may request a Tangata Whenua Assessor.
  1. The Member can request a face-to-face Panel Assessment, restricted to the locations of the Assessor Group (Whangarei, Otautahi, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, West Coast Manawatu/Wellington, Canterbury, South Auckland, Wairarapa) with a Tau Iwi Competency Assessor and two Tangata Whenua Panel Members.  If the candidate was able to get to an Assessor location at their cost this would be acceptable, for example a Waikato candidate could elect to travel to Auckland or Tauranga for an assessment. Panel assessments have been conducted successfully using SKYPE or other audio-visual platforms.
  1. The Member can request a Panel assessment with a Tangata Whenua Panel, using the regular assessment process albeit using Tangata Whenua protocols. Because of the location of the two Tangata Whenua Assessors (Whangarei & Otautahi) the Panel would need to be run via Skype or through the ANZASW Webinar network unless the member lived on one of these two locations.
  1. The Member can request a Niho Taniwha framework assessment. This is kanohi ki kanohi and is usually marae based. Referees are expected to accompany the candidate to the marae to provide oral references. The Panel considers a mix of oral and written responses. If eligible to submit a written portfolio Tangata Whenua members can opt for this form of assessment at the written portfolio cost.

Recertification (Competency Assessment)

How do I submit my Recertification?

Recertification>> is always submitted as a written portfolio which includes:

  1. The Cover sheet
  2. The Declaration
  3. 5 annual CPD Logs evidencing a minimum of 20 hours CPD per annum

Tangata Whenua members can request that their recertification portfolio be assessed by a Tangata Whenua Assessor

Social Workers Who Do Not Have a Recognised Qualification

Are there any implications for me not being registered as a Social Worker?

SWRB Registration is not yet mandatory. Legislation making registration of social workers mandatory was introduced to Parliament in 17th August 2017. It is anticipated that the legislation will be enacted at some stage during 2018.

Once mandatory registration of social workers is legislated ‘social worker’ is expected  to become a protected title. A person will not be able to be called a social worker unless they are registered.

Under the provisions of the current Bill registration will be mandatory if your position description and or employment contract use the words “social Worker” to describe the position. If this is the case you must be registered and hold a current annual practicing certificate.

I do not have a recognised Social Work qualification but I do have extensive social work experience prior to 2003. What are my options apart from completing further qualifications?

Social workers holding a current certificate of competency who do not have a recognised qualification may be eligible to apply for Section 13 Registration under the Social Work Registration Act (2003).


Contact the SWRB with some urgency if you wish to pursue this option.

When registration becomes mandatory ‘social worker’ will become a protected title thus it will become illegal for workers to use the title social worker unless they are a registered social worker.

I am a social worker who does not hold a recognised qualification and do not have practice experience prior to 2003. What are my options?

Once registration becomes mandatory you will have to be registered with SWRB and social worker will become a protected title.

If you want to continue to identify as a social worker and use the title post mandatory registration you will need to complete a recognised social work programme.

For members who do not qualify for Section 13, the pathway to registration is to:

Provisional Registration is granted for two years with the option to renew. The maximum period available for provisional registration is 8 years.

Provisional Social Worker Registration

Can I Apply for Provisional Social Worker Registration?

A person holding a SWRB recognised New Zealand Social Qualification (SWR ACT Section 6) or an overseas qualification assessed as being equivalent to a New Zealand qualification (SWR Act Sec 7) can apply for registration if they meet the following criteria:

  1. They are assessed as competent to practice and
  2. Are fit to practice
  3. Are competent to work with Māori
  4. Are competent to practice social work with difference ethnic and cultural groups in New Zealand
  5. Has enough practical experience in practicing social work
  6. Can speak write and understand English reasonable well

Provisional registration is available to people who hold a qualification and gave been assessed as competent and fit to practice and who are working towards meeting one or more of criteria 3 – 6 listed above.

Social Workers with Graduate Competence or Overseas Competence meet the criteria for provisional registration.

Managers and Competency

I am employed in a non-clinical role as a Team Manager where I don't need to hold SW Registration. I do not have clinical contact with service users. I provide administrative supervision for Team Members. I am interested in joining ANZASW and being Certified as a Competent SW practitioner (if appropriate/applicable) in my management role. How will I go about completing this (in my role) and will I need to complete clinical work in order for me to be a certified practitioner?

ANZASW’s description of practicing social work includes:

  • Direct interaction with people using the service in the context of a ‘front line’ role;
  • Managing, supervising or mentoring other social workers;
  • Teaching social work practice or theory;
  • Other roles that utilise an individual’s social work skills, knowledge, values and ethics, where the individual has some level of influence on or engagement in decisions about people using the service1.
  1. People using the service includes, but is not limited to, individuals, families, whānau, hāpu, iwi, groups, organisations, communities, staff, supervisees, students.

The ‘people using the service’ of a Team Leader are the team members. Practice examples will demonstrate the application of the practice standards when working with team members.

SWRB policy on holding an Annual Practicing Certificate is:

You must have an Annual Practising Certificate if you are practising social work. This includes:

  • working directly with clients
  • managing and/or supervising other social workers
  • teaching social work practice or theory
  • being mentally engaged in social work decision making at any level be that in a clinical, managerial or advisory role.

CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Logs

Does my Annual CPD Log have to be a calendar year?

Your annual CPD log can cover any 12-month period such as:

  • Anniversary of your Certificate of Competence
  • The anniversary of the Annual Practicing Certificate, ie 1 July – 30 June
  • The anniversary of your workplace performance review
  • The anniversary of starting in a new role
  • The calendar year

You need to choose a ‘year’ that works for you.

It is recommended that you put a reminder in your calendar to update your CPD Log. This could be:

  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Six monthly

Do I need to develop and submit a current plan with my Log?


You just need to submit your Recertification Cover Sheet complete with Affirmation and Declaration and your 5 annual CPD Logs with a minimum of 20 hours per year, critical reflections, linkage to all 10 ANZASW Practice Standards and appropriate Supervisor Feedback/Sign-off.

I am a Registered Social Worker and my CPD records were lost in a natural disaster / red-zone cordon / fire / burglary / computer crash /etc.

Think outside of the square; have any of your experiences assisted you enhance your current social work practice? Can you brainstorm your memory? Did you do any specific resilience building, or any other training, within supervision? Have you done any relevant reading? Does your agency have a record of your CPD?

Have a go at completing your CPD Logs and ascertain how many Practice Standards you can cover.

If you are still not able to evidence a minimum of 20 hours CPD per annum, for each Standard then it will be necessary for you to complete an additional piece of work. This will involve completing a Self-Reflection on each Practice Standard with a brief example – half a page on each Standard will suffice.

CPD Requirements for Practicing ANZASW Members and Registered Social Workers

ANZASW requires that every practicing member engages in continuing professional development (CPD) and must evidence completing a minimum of 20 hours per annum.

Please refer to ANZASW’s CPD Policy and the SWRB’s CPD Policy

Can I use learning about my work data base as CPD?

Generally, the following activities are NOT regarded as CPD:

  • Supervision received or delivered to meet the supervision requirements of the ANZASW and or the SWRB supervision policy;
  • Attendance at Team Meetings;
  • Organisational training, for example First Aid, Health & Safety, use of computer systems / technology, use of data bases etc;
  • Activities which are included in a job description will not usually be considered as CPD if they are a normal component of routine practice.

Please refer to the ANZASW Competency and Recertification Reference Document which provides examples of which is and is not acceptable as CPD.

pdficon_small   ANZASW Competency and Recertification Reference Document

Can I use a self-funded university paper that I can relate back to the Social Work Practice Standards? I am planning to use my learning in this paper as my professional development for this year.

Yes, it is acceptable providing it can be linked to the enhancement of practice. The paper may cover more than one Practice Standard. It is recommended that you identify the Practice Standards addressed in the paper and reflect on one or two that you have not yet provided a reflection on.

As this is self-funded do I still need sign off by my team leader or supervisor, or should I ask the University lecturer?

If the self-funded learning has been used to enhance your current practice, then your Manager / Supervisor should provide critically reflective feedback.

If social worker registration becomes mandatory and I am no longer required to complete recertification will I still need to maintain a CPD Log?

Yes. Completing CPD is set by SWRB as a condition for holding an Annual Practicing Certificate. Currently the requirement is to complete a minimum of 20 hours CPD per annum.

When registration becomes mandatory it is expected that SWRB will complete random audits of CPD Logs. It is strongly recommended that members keep their CPD Logs up to date.

Please visit our website for information on:

  • Initial Competency
  • Recertification Competency

Practice Standards

How many standards should be evidenced over a 5-year period?

You must provide a critical reflection on all 10 Practice Standards over the 5-year period of recertification. It is helpful to plan to complete critical reflections on at least two practice standards per year. However, as most CPD is relevant to several practice standards it is possible to cover more than two Standards per year.

You are expected to critically reflect on each CPD activity and the relevance of the training to a Practice Standard. Critical reflections are not acceptable if they are descriptive rather than reflective. Critical reflection relies on the word “I” being included, that is you are discussing how the training impacted on you and how you see this enhancing your practice.

Members have found the Critical Reflection Questions contained in the ANZASW Competency and Recertification Reference Document helpful.

pdficon_small   ANZASW Competency and Recertification Reference Document

Do I have to complete 10 hours on each Standard?

Sufficient hours need to be completed to enable you to complete a substantial critical reflection on each practice standard. It is expected that this would require approximately 4-5 hours for each standard over a five-year period (EG a 4-5 hour workshop/seminar or 1 hour on Practice Standard X each year over 5 years would meet the requirement).  This will help ensure you cover all 10 Standards/Core Competencies over the five-year cycle. Your CPD hours must still total a minimum of 20 hours per annum. 


How do you measure that a person is having supervision when they Recertify?

The candidate must provide an attestation from their Supervisor to confirm Supervision. In addition, the Supervisor must provide Feedback/Sign-off which is verified and authenticated. If there were concerns, the Competency Coordinator would make contact.

However, it is the Social Worker’s responsibility to ensure they have supervision in line with either ANZASW or SWRB Supervision Policies. If this is not occurring, then ANZASW would not know unless we are told; refer to the ANZASW Code of Ethics 5.7 and the SWRB Code of Conduct 8.10.

I retired from frontline social work 2 years ago, and now offer supervision only. My competence expires April next year – am I re certificating under Supervision practice standards, and if so, are they on the website and I have missed them?

We no longer have Supervisor Standards, so no, you have not missed them. Please refer to the latest Practice Standards on our website, which were updated in November 2014. These Standards are currently used by all Social Workers, Supervisors and Managers.

How can I locate a Registered Supervisor?

Check out the ANZASW Supervisor list on our website. Listings are searchable by region, interests, and approaches.

Supervisor Feedback and Sign off

Am I expected to sign off CPD logs for practitioners whom I supervise externally, or is this best signed off by the line manager who can verify the CPD has occurred?

Every situation is unique, it is about who knows the candidate’s practice best. Your supervisee may have a conversation with you about historic CPD in Supervision and explain how she/he has integrated the learning into their practice and what they do differently. Historic CPD is when you are retrospectively recording activity in your CPD Log. If you are recording your CPD activity retrospectively you are required to use the 2015 CPD Log available on our website.

For CPD completed in the years, 2012 and 2013 you must have a discussion with your current Supervisor or Manager or Practice Leader and obtain written and signed feedback on the overall relevance of the CPD to your role and its impact on your practice.

Does my supervisor have to comment on each individual reflection from 2014 onwards?

There are two options for commenting on a supervises CPD activities:

  1. Comment on each activity after it has been completed OR
  2. Provide one substantial piece of supervisor / manager / practice leader critically reflective feedback covering each 12 month CPD Log – in other words provide 5 pieces of substantial feedback , one for each year.

Police Checks

Is a Police Check required every 5 years?

ANZASW only requires a police check at the point of Membership and the Professional Indemnity Insurance declaration annually. SWRB re-checks every 5 years. The Vulnerable Children’s Act requires core children’s workers to be re-checked every 3 years. 

Periods of Non-Practicing

I am wondering, given that I was not practicing as a Social Worker for most of the period, how much CPD record is required?

Social Workers Who Are Not Registered

If you have had a period of non-practicing and have been unable to cover all the practice standards, you will need to

  • Identify the Practice Standard/s that you have not completed a critical reflection on;
  • Complete an additional piece of work which includes:
    • a self-reflection on the missing competencies/practice standards and
    • one practice study with a particular focus on the missing practice standards.

The self-reflection should be no more than half a page per competency / standard and include:

  • 2 paragraphs of self-reflection
  • A brief practice example illustrating the application of the competency / standard


Registered Social Workers

Registered Social Workers returning to work after a period of absence are required to have current competence and an Annual Practising Certificate prior to commencing work. The SWRB is unable to issue Interim Practising Certificates in such circumstances.

Members who have had a period of non-practising the following will apply to update your competency certification:

1. Competence expired for more than two years:

If competence has expired for more than two years members are required to do a full competence assessment i.e. Self-Reflection on all ten standards/competencies AND a Social Work Practice Example.

The Self-Reflection should be no less than half a page per standard/competency and include:

  • at least two substantial paragraphs of self-reflection per standard/competence, inclusive of a brief practice example; and in addition
  • a Social Work Practice Example.

2. Period of Absence during the five-year recertification period (and competence has been expired for less than 2 years)

If members cannot complete a full five years CPD because of absence from the workplace, paid or voluntary, they should complete the CPD logs they can, and in addition do a Self-Reflection on all ten standards/competencies.

This Self-Reflection should be no less than half a page per standard/competency and include:

  • at least two paragraphs of self-reflection per standard/competence inclusive of a brief practice example.

3. Period of Absence during the five-year recertification (Recertification due, competency still current).

Complete the CPD logs as much as the member is able as per the appropriate format. The member will need to complete a self-reflection on the standards/competencies not covered.

This Self-Reflection should be no less than half a page per standard/competency and include:

  • at least two paragraphs of self-reflection per standard/competence inclusive of a brief practice example.

In all cases where there has been a period of absence members should contact Shelley Crawford, Competency Co-ordinator to clarify the requirements for their circumstances as learning opportunities taken during the period of absence could be relevant to the CPD log. 

What do I do to record my CPD if my Certificate of Competency has lapsed?

If you are a registered social worker applying for recertification after your competence has lapsed Sections 1, 2 or 3 in the non-practicing information immediately above will apply.

Submission of Portfolio

How long before expiring date of competency should you send in your re-certification documents in?

Ideally, your portfolio is required 6 weeks prior to expiry, to ensure that the assessment of your portfolio can be completed prior to the expiry of your current Certificate of Competence. Should further evidence be required, then there will be time to provide it.

If your Certificate of Competency expires between mid-December and mid-January it is recommended that your portfolio is submitted by mid-November to ensure that the assessment is completed prior to your Certificate of Competency expiring.


What does ANZASW Membership provide for me?

  • Competency assessments
  • Professional development – webinars, workshops, National and through Branches
  • Professional Journal – reading and reflecting on articles is a professional development activity
  • Networking – face to face where branches are active and via on line forums, FaceBook etc
  • Website
  • Opportunity to contribute to submissions eg CYF Reforms, Mandatory Registration
  • Ability to be part of the social justice voice
  • Supports professional social work practice via
    • Code of Ethics
    • Practice Standards
  • Professional Indemnity insurance – smallest claim for legal advice $1,200, largest $80,000
  • Supervisors Register
  • Available in 2017