Over the past two weeks the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) has engaged in a series of meetings to address concerns over the Social Worker Registration Legislation Bill.
On Friday April 27th we met in Wellington with a representative group from the social work sector to discuss the bill following the return of the Select Committee’s report to the House. Our main focus was the need to change section 6AAB of the bill which determines that only those working in jobs with “social work” or “social worker” in the title are required to become registered social workers. To this end we collaboratively drafted some key amendments for the bill for Minister Sepuloni’s consideration.
ANZASW’s position is firm, this clause is considered a serious flaw in a piece of legislation that is ostensibly designed to protect the public from unethical or rogue practice. We estimate that it will leave half the workforce unregistered and therefore unaccountable to clients.
We are also clear that social work should be defined by what social workers do, rather than what they are called by their employers; ANZASW and our colleagues in the sector want Section 6AAB amended to reflect this position.
Following the meeting with sector representatives, both ANZASW and the Public Service Association (PSA) have met with Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni this week to discuss the sector response and to engage with her to progress the Bill.
The Minister has remained open to hearing our concerns and indicated her willingness to work with ANZASW and the wider sector to get this Bill right.
We are happy with the progress that has been made and the collaborative approach to the sector by the Minister.
We are assured that the issue can be resolved, and we remain confident that changes to the definition of social work can be achieved.
There will be further discussions with the Minister and officials going forward.