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Social Workers Encouraged Join Professional Body

Media Statement
20 January 2004

Social Workers Encouraged to Join Professional Body

New Zealand’s 8000 thousand social workers are being encouraged to register with the newly formed Social Workers Registration Board as a way to raise professional standards and the status of the social work profession in New Zealand.

“Social worker registration will ultimately mean improved public confidence in social work practice, including enhanced recognition by employers of those in the social work profession”, Social Workers Registration Board Chairperson, Robyn Corrigan, said today.

The Social Workers Registration Board, which was launched in November, will establish formal accountability and disciplinary frameworks for social workers throughout New Zealand.

At its first meeting of the 2004 year, the Board confirmed that it will begin accepting applications for registration from social workers on 1 October. There will be a three-month window of opportunity for social workers to become provisionally registered pending meeting criteria for full registration, Robyn Corrigan said.

Robyn Corrigan noted that before the Board could start accepting social worker registrations it would need to finalise a number of important decisions, including the development of registration criteria, a code of conduct for registration membership, the appointment of a Registrar and the appointment of members of the Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

“There is a great deal of work to be done and Board members are looking forward to the challenges ahead, including the requirement for consultation with providers of social work education and training, meeting social work employers and discussions with Maori, Pacific people and the leaders of other ethnic and cultural groups required under the Act.”

Robyn Corrigan said a professional body such as the Registration Board would help to address concerns about the lack of credibility of social work as a profession and the growing expectation that social workers be more accountable in their work.

“As a professional body, the Registration Board will set the bar for acceptable social work standards in this country.”

She said the benefits of a professional body to social workers, to their employers and to the public were considerable.

“At the heart of the new registration system are improved standards of social worker competence and accountability which will go a long way to restoring public confidence in the social worker profession. Employers too are expected to benefit with those employing registered social workers more likely to win service contracts than those who don’t. All round it’s a win win and signals a new and exciting era for social work practice in New Zealand.”

Robyn Corrigan said that over time registration would bring the social work profession into line with other professional organisations.

“Registration will become the accepted standard within the social work profession and for employers. The Board expects that registration will become the hallmark by which employers can judge potential appointees and funding agencies can assess the quality of social service providers.”

A Crown Entity, the Social Workers Registration Board was established in November following the passing of the Social Workers Registration Act 2003.


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