Onboard newsletter – August 2020

We are yet again faced with a period of uncertainty as the country moves into different alert levels.  While we had all hoped that this might not happen and there’s no doubt it’s challenging, we will again get through this by following the guidelines and drawing on our resilience. We know that it will likely mean social workers will come under additional pressure if anxiety levels rise and we would like to acknowledge the hard work, the mahi, that you put in every day.  Remember to look after yourself as well as those around you – and Ministry of Health guidance will remain the ‘go to’ source of information along with that from your employer.

You will likely have seen the media stories about the Ombudsman’s report into Oranga Tamariki.  I would like to acknowledge the Ombudsman’s investigation and his team who undertook the work. We offer our support for the recommendations as well as recognise the impact that reports such as this have on the profession and how it is perceived by our communities and clients.

The SWRB appreciates that the child protection system is complex. We are aware that Oranga Tamariki deals with extremely difficult and emotionally charged situations, including child abuse and neglect, and intervenes when pēpi and tamariki are hurt, harmed, and neglected. This complexity speaks to why it’s extremely important to have social workers leading and contributing within this space, and the added assurance provided when social workers are registered and accountable for their practice. Having all social workers registered (by Feb 27, 2021), and part of a workforce which adheres to the SWRB Code of Conduct, stands by a Code of Ethics, and undertakes regular (quality) supervision will improve professionalism and enhance public safety. 

The Ombudsman’s report recognised the importance of supervision – this is a valuable message for all employers. We have had ongoing discussions with Oranga Tamariki around the need for all social workers to become registered and to have continuing professional development, including supervision. We think there’s an opportunity to work more closely with the sector (including employers) and Oranga Tamariki, along with the professional body ANZASW, on guidance and understanding around supervision.

One of the Ombudsman’s recommendations was that Oranga Tamariki ‘ensures that all social workers are trained in, and engage in trauma-informed practice, and the Ministry consults with the SWRB to assist with the achievement of this’. (2.e)

The SWRB is supportive of this as trauma-informed practice fits within our competence standard framework. We will work with Oranga Tamariki and ANZASW in terms of how training within our competence framework would support the Ministry to deliver on that approach.

Sarah Clark, Chief Executive

Practising Certificates

As we work to upgrade our database, which we plan to have in place by October, we are looking at how we can best provide you with your Practising Certificates. 

A number of other regulators are moving to digital cards that are available on devices such as mobile phones and tablets, and which are quick and easy to access.  We also know that each year there are delays in people receiving their Practising Certificates which causes a number of problems for practitioners, so we are looking at changing the existing cards to a digital format. But it is important that we understand how you are using your card.

We will be developing a survey about the use of your card so you can let us know what you think, and you can expect to see an email from us within the next few weeks with some questions. We also want to ask employers their views as well.

Scope of Practice development

Earlier in the year, we engaged with social workers on developing a Scope of Practice for social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. We were fortunate to meet with a number of groups of people around the country and via zoom.

Feedback we received from the sector was collated and is available on the SWRB website. We established a working group, made up of sector leaders, to review the feedback and reflect the core elements that need to describe social work at a high level. We are pleased to advise that the draft Scope of Practice statement will be circulated for feedback in September. We will offer some webinar Q and A sessions where we’d be interested in your thoughts, or you’ll be able to email us your feedback.  Please keep an eye out for the sessions which will be advertised on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheSWRB/.

Diane Garrett (RSW), Principal Policy Advisor

Review of the SWRB Code of Conduct survey – we want to know what you think

The SWRB will be reviewing and amending the Code of Conduct this year. This is partly to ensure we reflect the legislative changes that have come into effect, and partly to review how well the Code reflects the expectations of conduct and integrity of the profession in 2020 and into the future.

We are beginning this work by asking social workers, employers and others who use the Code of Conduct to complete a short survey on their thoughts about the strengths of the current Code and suggestions for change. The survey includes a request for respondents to provide their contact details if they would like to discuss this further or provide more detailed feedback by emailing us. Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6PM6WJD

New database on track

As mentioned above, work is on track with the new database which is focused on making it useful and easy for social workers and employers to use. You will be to create and update your own profile, sign up for newsletters, apply for registration, and apply for a Practising Certificate online. It will be integrated into the current website and you’ll be able to seamlessly access them both.

We are now testing and refining it, and will move on to training our team to understand a new, much more automated way of managing your applications. 

We know this may not be perfect to start with but anticipate that it will make your interacting with us much more straightforward.

Checking in on registration questions

Do you have a friend or a colleague who is a social worker but is yet to register?

If they’re not sure where to start, the website has a lot of information –  https://swrb.govt.nz/social-workers/. 

They could also attend one of our registration Q&A sessions on Zoom.

Kendra and Bobbie run these on a Thursday from 1pm, at the following link – https://zoom.us/j/94949682098

Meet a member of the registration team: Victoria

Kia ora, my name is Victoria and I am one of the registration officers at the SWRB and have been here for 9 months. I am a New Zealander, from beautifully sunny Marlborough and moved to Wellington to study. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and pursued this as I have a love for both helping others and wanting to make a difference in the lives of those affected by crime.

I have always worked within customer service-based roles and took on this role as it allows me to contribute to ensuring our people are fit and proper to work within our communities with some of the most vulnerable people.

I strongly believe also in the work our social workers do on a day to day basis and am excited to be a part of the change. The mahi towards mandatory registration is both exciting and challenging, but it is equally rewarding.

Victoria, Registration Officer

Meet a new member of the SWRB Board: Hori Ahomiro

Ko Rangiuru tōku Maunga
Ko Kaituna tōku Awa
Ko Ngāti Moko tōku Hapū
Ko Tapuika, Ngāti Awa me Ngāi Tūhoe ōku Iwi
Ko Te Arawa me Mataatua ōku Waka
Ko Hori Ahomiro, tōku ingoa

Hori is a registered social worker who recently completed his Masters in Indigenous Studies at Te Whare Wānanga ō Awanuiārangi. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, RSW, a diploma in Adult Education with a qualification in Kaupapa Māori, and clinical Supervision. He is currently employed part time by the BOPDHB MHAS Management Team as an Advisor and Cultural lead.

Hori has special interests in Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga, mental health and addictions, social justice, equity for Māori and whānau, hapū, iwi engagement and development.

“I’ve worked in just about everything – from care and protection to youth justice to family violence to a …stint as a probation officer so that gave me all that background to justice systems and systems full stop,” he said.  Hori has also worked as a kaupapa Māori social worker in a DHB and then moved to middle and senior management in mental health.

One of the main reasons Hori was interested in joining the SWRB Board was because he felt it was important to be a voice for Māori and to bring his experience to the table so as to be transparent, open, and accountable. 

“The big kaupapa these days is about equity and ensuring that. You have to be thinking at a Board level but at the same time, as a social worker, you have to think how does this work for social workers on the ground. That’s the difference,” he said. “I guess putting an equity lens right across the Board and ensuring that those people who apply are treated equally and that social justice prevails at the end of the day because that’s what we’re there for.”