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Setting professional standards for social work pra

5 November 2003 Media Statement

Setting professional standards for social work practice

The Social Workers Registration Board, formally launched at Parliament this evening, will play a critical role in setting the bar for acceptable social work standards, says Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

The Board has powers to assess whether a social worker is competent to practice, and will establish formal accountability and disciplinary frameworks for social workers. The assessment of competence will take into account things like qualifications, experience in the job, and fitness to practise social work. The first registrations are expected to start in late 2004.

Steve Maharey said registration will provide protection for clients from poor social work practice and make social work a more attractive career option.

“Establishing a system of professional registration fulfils a key Labour manifesto commitment to protect New Zealanders from poor social work practice. Social workers have argued for a registration system for decades to bring the profession into line with others such as nurses, teachers, lawyers and psychologists.

“Registration will be based on a person’s competence and fitness to practice social work. To become registered, social workers will require an educational qualification and practice experience followed by an assessment of competence. They will be made accountable through the establishment of a complaints and disciplinary process.

“The appointments made to the Board ensure it will be able to exercise the necessary professional leadership to establish and govern the registration process. The membership of the Board is:
- Elizabeth Beddoe of Auckland is the Dean of Applied Social Sciences at the Auckland College of Education;
- Ian Calder of Raumati Beach recently retired as Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand;
- Yvonne Crichton-Hill of Christchurch is a lecturer in social work at the University of Canterbury;
- Robyn Corrigan of Northland is President of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers and General Manager of Ngati Kahu Social Services;
- Buster Curson of Palmerston North is a clinical social worker, counsellor and social services consultant in private practice;
- John Dunlop of Christchurch is a social services consultant with a long social work career;
- Professor Janet Duke is head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Victoria University of Wellington;
- Sonya Hunt of Rotorua is a social services consultant in private practice; and
- Shannon Pakura of Porirua is the Chief Social Worker for Child, Youth and Family.

“Nine members are being appointed at this time, with one position being held open to enable a further appointee to come forward should the Board determine it lacks a particular set of skills. The Board is responsible for electing a chair and deputy chair from amongst its membership.

“Registration will be voluntary but it is expected that over time it will become the hallmark by which employers judge potential employees, and funders assess providers. The government will support its departments to take the lead in adjusting to the registration system as part of our commitment to building strong public services. For example additional resources were provided to Child, Youth and Family in the 2001 budget to upskill its staff in preparation for the introduction of social worker registration,” Steve Maharey said.


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