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Non-Registered Social worker takes $55k from ill

Non-Registered Social worker takes $55k from ill woman

SWRB Supports Recommendation from the Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner

A non-registered social worker has been reprimanded in a report from the Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rae Lamb for accepting about $55,000 worth of cash and gifts from a mentally ill elderly woman she was looking after.

Parehe Nikau, also known as Polly Haenga, was assigned to be a community health coordinator for the 63-year-old complainant, referred to as Mrs A to protect her identity, in 2008.

The Social Workers Registration Board supports the recommendation from the Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rae Lamb that if Ms Nikau continues to operate as a social worker she should register with the Social Workers Registration Board.

The Social Workers Registration Board is concerned that unregistered social workers are not held accountable to the SWRB Code of Conduct and therefore complaints such as this are not able to be referred to the Social Workers Registration Board Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

Media reports that a disciplinary charge against Ms Nikau could be laid before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal were incorrect as this tribunal has no jurisdiction over social workers. A charge could be laid before the Social Workers Registration Board Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal but only if the social worker concerned was registered.

Registration with the New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board is currently voluntary.

Ms Toni Hocquard, Chair of the Social Workers Registration Board, advises that “The Board has created a framework for the registration of social workers that has been accepted by the majority of the profession. The Board is responsible for identifying recognised social work qualifications and whether a social worker is fit and competent to practice.”

“It is the Social Workers Registration Board’s aim that all social workers in New Zealand should be registered to protect the safety of vulnerable members of the public by ensuring that social workers are competent to practise and are held accountable for the way in which they practise by an independent Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal” said Ms Hocquard.

ENDS

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