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ANZASW statement on amendments to crucial social work bill

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) is pleased to learn that Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development, has proposed that the Social Work Registration Legislation Bill include a scope of practice to determine who is required to register as a social worker.

ANZASW has always supported mandatory registration of social workers as a means of upholding standards, heightening accountability and protecting people using social work services. However, previous versions of the Bill- the stated purpose of which was to introduce mandatory registration- only required those in roles described using the words “social work” or “social worker” to be registered.

This meant that many qualified social workers would have their professional status effectively defined by their employer by excluding ‘social worker’ from their job descriptions; thus many social workers would not have been required to register.

The Association has long argued for this section of the Bill to be amended to base registration on a scope of practice which would accurately define the scope of a social worker, promote universal registration and for the legislation to provide protection of the title ‘social worker,’ preventing unqualified people claiming to be a social worker.

“Since the Bill was proposed, ANZASW has engaged with relevant government agencies, ministries and officials to negotiate changes,” Lucy Sandford-Reed, Chief Executive of ANZASW said. “It has always been of the highest importance to us that social workers are able to claim their professional identity on terms that are not defined by employers and that the public can be reassured that those who operate under the title of social worker are competent and accountable,” she added.

“We want to thank members for their patience during the course of our discussions with government, Minister Sepuloni and MSD Officials for being open to making changes in the best interests of the profession and organisations such as the Social Work Alliance and PSA who have collaborated with us during the negotiation process,” Sandford-Reed said.

“ANZASW believes that changes to the Bill will increase public confidence in the profession and help to ensure that social workers deliver the high standards of practice that service users rightly expect,”

Sandford-Reed noted.

The Association will continue to follow developments on the proposed changes and engage with colleagues and the government the Bill progresses through Second and Third Reading and Royal Assent.


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