Mandatory registration – costs and support

The shift to mandatory registration is getting closer with all social workers needing to be registered by February 27th, 2021.  It’s a great step forward for the profession and one long sought by social workers who will join the ranks of other regulated professionals including teachers, nurses, doctors and lawyers.

It’s the SWRB’s role to ensure the safety of the public and enhance professionalism – being registered is part of having the system in place to make that happen. 

It will also reassure the public that all social workers are part of a fully registered workforce which adheres to a Code of Conduct and understands its professional obligations, strengthening trust in the profession.

Who must be registered

You need to be registered if you:

  • call yourself a social worker,
  • are known as a social worker, or
  • are held out to be a social worker

Who we would advise to register

If you have a social work qualification1 and work in social services, we would advise that best practice is you would become registered.  You are in all likelihood using your social work skills and knowledge in the role, and you can be practising social work even if it is not in your job title (see below for what is social work practice). Being registered supports social workers to enhance professional accountability to each other and the profession as a whole.

For employers, having registered social workers shows your organisation supports and stands behind a fully professional workforce which adheres to the SWRB’s Code of Conduct.  By supporting a registered social worker, regardless of whether the position is called social work, you know your staff is required to meet the standards set by the profession. That helps to build trust and shows the public you take your obligations to public safety seriously. 

How to register

Find out how to register here.

Social work practice

Practising social work can include any one or more of the following:

  • working directly with clients, including whānau, hapū and community
  • being involved with casework decisions at any level
  • managing and/or supervising other social workers
  • if you apply your social work values, skills, ethics, and knowledge in your role
  • teaching social work practice or theory
  • developing policy that impacts upon social work practice

Find out about the Scope of Practice here.

Practical social work experience

If you have lots of practical social work experience in New Zealand (10-15 years’ experience), but not an SWRB-recognised social work qualification, you may still be eligible to register under our Experience pathway: S13.

Find out more here.

Costs and support

We know there are some social workers facing hurdles in being able to become registered, either because of the cost or because they need assistance with the process.  

In recognition of this, the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki have been working with the SWRB Board, ANZASW, and social service membership/umbrella bodies to be able to offer some assistance to the organisations they hold contracts with: 

Costs: If your organisation would like to be able to pay for the registration of your social worker/s, but is unable to do so, they may be able to help you meet the costs.  If your social worker is paying for their registration and finding it is difficult; through you, they may be able to receive this assistance as well.

Support: If your social worker/s are finding the process to apply for registration difficult, particularly if they are experienced social workers (10-15 year’s experience of social work in NZ) and they are applying through the experience pathway: S13, they may be able to be supported through this process, either via a buddy system or through one on one support.

To find out more, please contact your Oranga Tamariki advisor or relationship manager.