Statement by ANZASW President for World Social Work Day 2019
World Social Work Day (19 March 2019) has become a highpoint in the social work calendar with practitioners celebrating and promoting the contributions of the profession to individuals, families, communities and wider society internationally.
Today, as always, the Association pays tribute to our highly-skilled and hard-working social work colleagues, particularly here in Aotearoa New Zealand; you are the experts, change agents and collaborative partners helping to make a difference across the country.
ANZASW thanks and stands with you as you continue with your indispensable work as Canterbury and the Nation begin the process of recovery following the terror attack last week.
We also acknowledge the diverse range of people that are served by colleagues at home and abroad, as they seek to enhance their resilience and / or protect their families / whānau in the face of adversity.
With great sadness today, we think of the community in Christchurch / Ōtautahi who have been enduring so much, especially Muslim New Zealanders, including victims and their families / whānau.
I know that the entire social work profession is offering their awhi to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Canterbury. If any good can come of the horrific incidents that took place, is that the outpouring of aroha and kotahitanga now so clearly on display is helping to fortify our society against the hate that led to recent events.
The theme for this year’s World Social Work Day is promoting the importance of human relationships. The Association recognises the great relevance of this topic at the present time, as communities stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, and our society begins to process what has happened.
The overwhelming response we’ve witnessed, from the statutory and international level right down to individual acts of kindness and support, are a reminder of the value of mutual support and respect, and how deeply the spirit of manaaki is rooted in our islands.
The kaupapa of our profession emphasises the importance of relations between individuals, diverse communities, within families / whānau and society. The global definition of social work affirms that promoting shared responsibility and mutual respect between communities are a central goal of our practice at the macro level.
In all our professional activities, social workers seek to support the people accessing services by facilitating improved or empowered relations with persons or systems, so that they fulfil their rights and potential with mana and full self-determination. This is complemented by our advocacy on behalf of those we serve and our profession’s expertise in analysing the wider context in which individuals present their practical challenges or experience risks to their well-being.
Turning to social work itself, the passage of the Social Worker Registration Legislation Act
will change the relationship of social work with our counterparts in other professions and
with the people we serve, securing greater confidence in our work going forward.
The passing of Act into law 28 February 2019 was a significant milestone, moving our
profession onto the same footing as other regulated professions that social workers often
interact with when supporting the public. This development not only marks a long overdue
recognition of the status of Social Work, while increasing service user confidence, ensuring
accountability and competence, but also offers hope to colleagues overseas who are also
seeking full mandatory registration on terms that recognise the scope and importance of
The Association wants to thank Minister Sepuloni for her receptiveness to the concerns of
the social service sector and the Social Work Alliance Group during the process of refining
the Bill before it was passed. The final Act makes all the difference by ensuring that that not only will the public will now be safer and better served, but our profession will be fully
regulated and guided by a scope of practice which informs employers, the general public,
and other professionals of the range of activities covered by the profession, in the same way that peers working with the public other fields are.
We also want to acknowledge officials from Ministry of Social Development and the
Ministers Office who played an important role in achieving the Act in its final form that is fit for purpose.
Finally, on behalf of the Association, I would simply like to tautoko everyone in Christchurch standing with, supporting or offering awhi to the victims, including many of our colleagues, as well as the victims, their families and the Muslim community at large.