Mandatory Registration

What you need to know Part 1/2

Reporting Responsibilities Part 2/2

Social workers are employed in various positions. Some of these positions are not titled ‘social worker.’

General Scope of Practice:
Social workers are registered professionals who are educated to work collaboratively with clients and communities to assess, manage and evaluate individual and interpersonal situations incorporating analysis of environmental, cultural, structural, societal and economic issues. Social work seeks to enable and empower people and their communities to address life challenges, enhance well-being and challenge societal barriers. Across a variety of practice settings, social workers use indigenous, social sciences and humanities knowledge, social work theories, skills, strategies and interventions. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work practice.

Social workers assess and manage risk, trauma and safety and apply critical thinking and professional judgment.

Social workers create and review social policy, undertake socio-political research, community development, community organising, networking and advocacy in relation to social justice, poverty and inequality.

Social workers use their expertise in professional and/or team leadership, social work management, supervision, coaching, mentoring, teaching and tutoring social work, consultancy and advisory roles.

Such practice is undertaken in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi based practice, the IFSW IASSW joint definition of social work, the Social Work Registration Board’s Code of Conduct and 10 core competencies, the ANZASW’s Code of Ethics and within the generally accepted standards relevant to the individual social worker’s area of practice and level of expertise.

What is the Practice of Social Work?
To assist interpretation, especially for persons in non-traditional or role-emergent practice contexts, the SWRB developed a definition of the practice of social work which is set out below:
The Practice of Social Work – what do social workers do?
The Social Workers Registration Board defines the practice of social work as the following:
1. Wherever possible, establishing collaborative relationships with clients and their communities to overcome barriers and obtain support, based on an understanding of their history and the personal, spiritual, whānau, social, and cultural meanings of who they are and what they want to achieve. ‘Client’ includes but is not limited to individuals, family, whānau, hapū, iwi, groups, organisations, communities, staff, supervisees and students.
2. The assessment and evaluation of client situations and needs incorporating analysis of structural, cultural, social and economic issues using indigenous, social sciences and humanities knowledge, social work theories, skills, strategies and interventions.
3. Across a wide range of practice settings work collaboratively with clients to:

a. Identify, explore and assess strengths, needs, situations, and support networks and understand the client’s perspective in order to determine and prioritise goals;
b. Analyse micro, meso and macro influences on clients and the client’s social system;
c. Develop plans to enhance client well-being;
d. Enhance their well-being, resilience and ability to cope with major life stresses such as grief, loss, trauma and other major events and challenges. The focus of this work may be at personal and/or systemic levels;
e. Research, assess and refer clients to community resources. This includes working with clients to develop their capacity and confidence to advocate for themselves or providing or arranging advocacy for people who do not have a voice, as well as negotiating and challenging institutional barriers.
f. Review and reflect on goals, plans, situations and modify these if required.

4. Apply critical thinking and professional judgement to assess and manage risk where there is potential or actual abuse, neglect or harm to self and others. Interventions may include the use of statutory power.
5. Direct practice with clients in the context of a ‘front line’ role which may include counselling and case management. This could be as a sole practitioner or in a team or roopu.
6. Professional and/or team leadership, social work management, supervision, coaching, mentoring, consultancy and advisory roles where the person influences the practice of social work. ‘Practice’ is wider than ‘front line’ social work and may be paid or voluntary.
7. Teaching and tutoring social work practice, theory and skills.
8. Social policy analysis, policy creation and review and practice development, as well as socio-political research.
9. International, social and community development; community organising, networking and advocacy in relation to social justice, poverty and inequality. Maximizing strengths or assets already existing in communities; developing and supporting groups or organisations to build resilience and enhance social well-being and functioning.
10. Engaging in processes to ensure competence in the above.

CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Log

pdficon_small   Comparison of ANZASW Practice Standards & SWRB Core Competence Standards

Logs already completed on the previous ANZASW or SWRB templates will still be acceptable to the SWRB  so there is no need to copy and paste logs already completed into their new log template: refer

If completing retrospectively and submitting to the SWRB:

** Some members have queried and asked me whether it is okay to do your CPD with ANZASW given the recent legislative changes. The answer is YES; “My Online CPD Log” with ANZASW has been approved by SWRB and it uses SWRB Practice Standards.

Any queries please contact


These questions may be used when reflecting on one’s own and/or during supervision:

  • What was the nature of the event /experience?
  • What aspect went well / was good about the event /experience?
  • What did not go so well / was not so good?
  • What were my feelings about what happened?
  • What were the feelings of others?
  • What have I learned from the experience?
  • What can I learn from exploring these feelings about myself as a professional?
  • What did others think I should learn?
  • What do I need to do next?
  • How can I use what I have learned in my practice?


Questions for examining the impact on aspects of professional competence

  • Has my attitude, perception or awareness changed?
  • Has my knowledge been updated and/or refreshed?
  • Have I gained or enhanced knowledge?
  • Have I developed or enhanced skills?
  • Have I applied new knowledge/skills and continue to use these in my work area?

Questions to examine the impact on outcomes for consumers/others

  • Has the professional development activity impacted on outcomes for consumers and/or others e.g. colleagues?
  • Subjective perceived positive impact of outcomes
  • Observed positive impact of outcomes
  • Does objective feedback from consumers and/or others confirm positive outcomes?


Source and with permission from: Occupational Therapy Board (NZ) CCFR Practitioner Handbook March 2011

Questions & Answers

Legislation was before Parliament early in 2019 which makes changes to social worker registration. The Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) have put together some questions and answers about the effects of the new Act . If you have other questions, please contact:

Frequently asked questions

Common Q&As about SWRL Bill 18Dec18>>

18 December 2018

The following are some common questions and answers about changes to social worker
registration that will be introduced by the Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill
(SWRL Bill). This document was prepared by the Ministry of Social Development in
consultation with the Social Work Alliance. It is available online at:

  • Background on what’s happening
  • Why does the Social Worker Registration Act need to be changed?
  • What are the benefits of the SWRL Bill?
  • How many people are estimated to be social workers?
  • What does the social worker sector think of the changes?
  • After the SWRL Bill comes into force
  • Who will be a social worker?
  • What will registration as a social worker involve?
  • Why will registration as a social worker effectively be mandatory?
  • Why will it be possible to be registered as a social worker but not be
  • What will scopes of practice mean?
  • What does having a practising certificate mean?
  • Will people who have a wealth of practical experience but not the right qualifications be able to register as a social worker?
  • Why are there different types of registration?
  • What effect will there be on people who are thinking about studying in 2019 for, or are already in the process of completing, a social work qualification?
  • Will there be any change in fees charged, such as for registration?
  • What will be the role of the Social Workers Registration Board?
  • What will be the responsibilities of employers of social workers?
  • What will be the responsibilities of social workers?
  • When will the Social Workers Registration Act be reviewed?
  • Why is the Board’s membership being reduced?
  • What role will the Ministry of Social Development have regarding social
  • What is the government doing about workforce planning for social workers?
  • Some possible examples
    • I have a social work qualification and I am a member of a professional social worker association, but I work as a drug and alcohol worker. I am also a member of the Addiction Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa New Zealand (DAPAANZ). My District Health Board employer requires me to be a member of DAPAANZ. Will I have to register as a social worker?
    • Does being a registered social worker mean that I will not be able to be a member of a professional social worker association?
    • I am a Community Support Worker/Whānau Worker/Family Worker and do not have a social work qualification and do not plan to seek such a qualification. My employer requires me to be a member of a professional social worker association. Will being a member of a professional social worker association put me in breach of new section 6AA (unregistered person must not claim to be a social worker)?
    • I am a retired social worker but I provide volunteer social work services for a few hours each month. Will I need to be registered as a social worker?
    • I have a number of employees who are doing some social work who do not have a recognised social work qualification. What will I be required to do once the Social Workers Registration Act is amended?
    • I work alongside a social worker. We do the same work – assessment, intervention, developing care plans etc. My title isn’t social worker, but hers is. I am not registered or affiliated with any organisation. Will I be in breach of the Act?
    • We have staff who are not called social workers, but they are using a lot of social work skills and techniques. Some of them have a social work qualification, but some have no qualification at all. Our employer does not pay for registration for the qualified social workers and they cannot afford to pay for their own registration. Will they need to be registered?
    • I was off sick for two years for treatment for a long-term disability. I am returning to work now. What do I need to do to meet my CPD requirements?
    • I am a retired Life Member of a professional social worker association and am not registered. I am not practicing in any way, but my identity is ‘social worker’. Will I be in breach of the new 6AA if I identify as a social worker even though I am not practicing and do not intend to return to practice?
    • I am a retired social worker and sit on a Board of Directors for a social service organisation that provides social work services. (1) If I am registered will I need an annual practising certificate for this? (2) I am not registered; will I need to register to be a Director on this Board?
    • More information

Additional Information

On this page, you can find out about the changes that the Government is making to social worker registration. Legislation is being progressed that will bring into effect mandatory registration for anyone who is practising as a social worker. There will also be more requirements of employers, some changes in how the Social Workers Registration Board (the SWRB) operates, and a range of other changes impacting on social workers. Some of the changes will happen as soon the legislation becomes law, while others will happen in stages. The key change is that within two years of the changes becoming law, all people practising as a social worker will need to be registered.

MSD: Social Workers Registrations Legislation>>

In 2003 the Social Workers Registration Act was enacted with the purpose of increasing the accountability for the profession, enhancing the professionalism of Social Workers and protecting members of the public.

In November of that year the Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) was constituted as a crown entity and as such is entirely separate from ANZASW. The SWRB is responsible for establishing the criteria for registration of New Zealand and overseas qualified Social Workers, developing a code of conduct, establishing the policies and procedures for complaints and discipline, and setting up the registration database.

Further details about the SWRB can be found at their website

At present registration is voluntary although many employers now require their staff to either be registered or eligible for registration. As part of becoming registered a Social Worker must provide evidence of having completed an approved competency assessment process.

The criteria for Registration can be found of the SWRB website but in broad terms require a Social Worker to demonstrate that they are a fit and proper person to be practicing social work, that they have a recognised social work qualification, that they are a competent practitioner and that they have enough practical experience.

Please consult the SWRB website for the policy statements that cover these criteria.