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Social worker registration

Social worker registration offers protection for New Zealanders

Legislation passed by Parliament last night will offer New Zealanders better protection from poor social worker practice and ensure a high level of accountability in the social work profession.

The Social Workers Registration Bill establishes: a Board to register social workers, with the responsibility to set professional standards and to promote the benefits of registration; and discplinary processes and a Tribunal to consider complaints about registered social workers. The legislation fulfils a Labour party manifesto commitment to establish a system of professional registration for public and private sector social workers and was developed following comprehensive consultation with the social and health sectors.

Steve Maharey said social workers have argued for a system of registration for many years to enable the profession to set and monitor the minimum standards required for competent social work practice.

“The regulation of social workers has been the subject of debate over a number of years. There has been concern about the lack of credibility of social work as a profession. There has also been a growing expectation from New Zealanders, particularly those who use social services, that social workers should be more accountable and their work more transparent.

“Social workers deal with traumatised children and families every day in New Zealand. The registration system established by the legislation will ensure that those social workers are competent, accountable and practising safely.

"It is anticipated that some social workers will be immediately eligible for registration, while others will have to work towards this goal. Child, Youth and Family, the largest employer of social workers, has put in place a comprehensive plan to ensure its staff will be able to meet the registration requirements.

"The registration system will be a key step in building and retaining public confidence in the profession,” Steve Maharey said.

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