Our regulatory role

Our role as the regulator of social workers is set out in the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 and includes enhancing the professionalism of social workers. We use a range of regulatory tools, including:

  • the registration of social workers and maintaining a public register of social workers
  • issuing practising certificates
  • publishing a scope of practice, code of conduct, and core competencies
  • providing guidance to support high standards of practice
  • managing concerns, complaints, and notifications
  • prescribing standards in social work education.

The SWRB provides administrative support to the Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal. Independent of the SWRB, the Tribunal is the disciplinary decision-making body which is quasi-judicial and its process is similar to that of a court.  It is responsible for the prosecution of social workers through the disciplinary process.

We also provide policy advice to Government that supports professional and accountable social work.

Our regulatory functions are funded on a cost recovery basis, through the fees and disciplinary levy.

Registered social workers – the numbers

The SWRB maintains a register of social workers. This is a statutory requirement under our legislation. The public register is online and searchable.

Total number (as of 30 June 2023)
Social workers on the register11,850
Social workers with a current practising certificate8,707

We recommend employers check the register as part of their due diligence pre-employment checks for new social workers. Anyone may check the register to find out if the professionals they are coming into contact with are registered social workers and if they hold a current practising certificate.

Areas of focus

Alongside our Regulatory work we undertake functions relating to Workforce and Crown. These are funded through a Crown appropriation. This means we are allocated funds by the government for these activities, which is separate from our fees and levy income.

You can read more about our Workforce role.