Deep flaw in report-back on social worker registration

Social Service Providers Aotearoa says the select committee’s report on mandatory social worker registration fails to meet the Bill’s fundamental objectives of safeguarding the public and protecting the integrity of the social work profession.

SSPA represents community-based organisations providing child and family social services. Social workers make up a significant section of the workforce.

SSPA national manager Brenda Pilott says that while the select committee has made some useful recommendations, it is deeply disappointing it has not adopted recommendations from across the social service sector that the title of social worker needs definition or it becomes meaningless.

“There is an almost unanimous view that social worker registration needs to be underpinned by a scope of practice. Without this, it’s left to employers to decide what is and isn’t social work; as long as social work tasks are called something else, the registration process can be bypassed and the work done by those who are unregistered or even unqualified.

“It makes the legislation unfit for purpose,” Brenda Pilott says.

“I know the Minister of Social Development does not want to delay the introduction of mandatory registration but I urge her to spend some time working with the social service sector to get the outcome we are all seeking and legislation that stands the test of time.”

In its submission, the SSPA recommended that the legislation require the Social Worker Registration Board to define the social worker scope of practice, in consultation with social work professionals.

“I believe this would meet both the concerns of the profession and the government’s desire to introduce mandatory registration as quickly as possible,” says Brenda Pilott.