Onboard newsletter – December 2023

He ara pūkenga, he ara tauwhiro, hei whakamana mātā waka
The many pathways of knowledge, the many pathways of social work, upholding the dignity of all

While we head towards the end of the year, I want to acknowledge this is a busy time for many. In particular I would like to acknowledge and welcome our new Minister for Social Development and Employment, Hon. Louise Upston. We look forward to working with her as she establishes the priorities for her portfolio.

SWRB staff singing holiday waiata with Mana Mokopuna

We want to acknowledge our relationship with the Minister including through her membership of the Social Services and Community Select Committee. We were fortunate that she spoke at the event to mark the introduction of mandatory registration, where she acknowledged the extraordinary work of social workers and how critical the workforce is. Minster Upston’s presentation from the celebration can been seen online: Kia Utoka Kia Tauwhiro Live Stream.

We also look forward to sharing with Minister Upston our annual Workforce Survey Report. The full report is due out early in 2024, but we have headline findings to share with you in this Onboard. Ngā mihi to everyone who completed the survey when renewing your practising certificate. It really helps to have such a high response rate as we build a strong evidence base of workforce trends to share with the Minister and others.

Also in this Onboard, I hope you enjoy reading about another of the ANZASW Social Work Award 2023 winners. This time we feature Florence Tamehana, winner of the Tangata Whenua Practice Award.

As we come to the end of this year and look ahead to the next, it is an important time for reviewing our activity and organisational capabilities. We have seen an increase in regulatory activity – for example processing registration applications via the overseas pathway, and managing complaints, concerns and notifications. In addition, as with most organisations, we have experienced financial pressure associated with the recent high inflation rate. The Board will be considering our funding at their next meeting and we expect to share an update as soon as we are able.

Finally, one more thing to highlight as we look ahead to next year is to confirm arrangements for our annual Continuing Professional Development (CPD) audit. Whether you are selected for the audit or not, it is a timely reminder to keep your CPD record up to date.

I hope you are able to join in some festivities in the days ahead. We were blessed to join our neighbours Mana Mokopuna in seasonal waiata singing this week (pictured above).

Meri Kirihimete, me ngā manaakitanga mō te tau hou!

Sarah Clark

Chief Executive

Annual Social Worker Workforce Survey 2023 – Headline Findings

We are happy to share a selection of the headline findings from our Annual Social Worker Workforce Report 2023 which is due for publication early next year. We will also be working on ways to share the information with some online Zoom sessions and summaries on our website.

DemographicsInsightsSupporting the profession
– One in five social workers are aged 60 or above

– 23% identify as Māori, 11% identify as Pasifika. The largest ethnic group for workforce survey participants was European (67%).

– Almost all social workers held a qualification in 2023 (97%), with over half of survey participants holding a level 7 Bachelor’s degree (56%).

– One-third of social workers who gained registration through the Experience pathway identify as Māori.

– Responses were received from 4,411 social workers (51% of those practising)

– Reasons for joining the social work profession include making a positive difference to people’s lives; an interest in social justice, advocacy, and welfare; and serving/working with/for/supporting whānau and community.

-The most selected reason to remain in the profession is the same reason most participants initially joined – making a difference to people’s lives.

– The most commonly cited barriers to entering or re-entering the social work profession were the costs of being a regulated professional, salary and balancing work and personal life.

– 16% of social workers in the survey said they plan to leave in the next five years
– The vast majority of participants reported that their employer paid their registration fees (in full or in part), and that their employer pays their annual practising certificate renewal fees (in full or in part).

– Employer support for social work practice included:
professional reflective supervision
training and skills development, including CPD and understanding obligations as a registered social worker.

Public trust in the social work profession

One of our high-level outcomes is to promote public trust and confidence in the social work profession. This is outlined in our Statement of Intent for 2022-2026.

Our focus on supporting strong professional practise and accountability among social workers will be key to building that trust and confidence. However, to measure our progress, it is important for us establish a ‘baseline’ understanding.

Last year, the SWRB commissioned Research New Zealand to explore the level of trust the New Zealand public has in the social work profession. The research included a survey of more than 1,000 New Zealanders. The 2023 survey results indicated:

  • The level of trust in the social work profession was not high. However, the trust rating was in line with the level of trust in a number of other ‘caring’ professions.
  • There were many respondents who admitted they know little or nothing about social workers.
  • Although there was a low understanding about what social workers do, most respondents agreed that social work is hard and challenging. They also agreed that social workers have an important role to play in making difficult situations better.
  • Many people are unsure about what is involved in becoming a social worker and whether social workers are regulated.
  • Those people who knew more about social workers were more likely to have trust and confidence in them.

We are using the baseline findings from this research to help shape our work as a regulator and in our workforce planning role. We expect to commission similar research in the future to find out if there are changes in trust and confidence levels over time.

You can read more about the work on our website: Public trust in the social work profession

End of year students zoom session

As we approach the end of 2023, many social work students are close to completing/ have recently completed their last year of study and final placements. For those who are about to enter the profession and are looking to become registered, we invite you to join our digital information sessions with any questions you may have around the registration process, holding a practising certificate and maintaining CPD.

Our final session of 2023 will be held on Thursday the 14th of December at 1pm and can be accessed via this link: https://bit.ly/31H8XEq.

CPD audit update

Starting February 2024, we’re launching the Continuing Professional Development Audit of the 2022/23 Practising year. This is an annual audit where randomly select 5% of all practising registered social workers’ CPD logs from July 2022 to June 2023. If you are one of the selected social workers, you can expect an email from us by the end of February 2024.

There are important changes to the CPD Audit this year:

  • Firstly, the Board no longer requires a reflection on the CPD activity, this is now optional.
  • CPD logs are required to be recorded and submitted directly into your MySWRB CPD Log.
  • Individual feedback will no longer be provided to each audited social worker, due to removing the reflection requirement.

A reminder that the Board’s annual CPD requirements are:

  1. Link your activities to the ten core competencies to keep your practice current.
  2. Include an activity supporting your competence to work with Māori.
  3. Complete at least 20 hours of CPD during the year.

For social workers new to using MySWRB, we will providing helpful tools to help you log your CPD onto your account.

Introducing Florence Tamehana – winner of the Tangata Whenua Practice Award 2023

Congratulations to Florence “Flo” Tamehana who won the Tangata Whenua Practice Award at the ANZASW Social Work Awards 2023 in September. The award was sponsored by the Symposium – Barnardos, ANZASW and the SWRB. It was awarded for contribution to the Tangata-ō te whenua body of knowledge, models of practice and improved outcomes for Māori.

Flo is the Student Engagement Advisor at Manukau Institute of Technology | Te Pūkenga.

She has always had a passion for youth work. After leaving the army she worked in Child, Youth and Family Residence Centres before moving into work on domestic violence and family harm. She was the Whānau Advocate at Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri, before taking up her current post at MIT, where she supports students to complete their NCEA qualifications. The students come with a range of challenges, but she says all they need is a pen and to be ready to engage.

Winning the award took Florence by surprise. She said:

“It was lovely. It was an honour. It was humbling. I was so grateful to my nominators for their beautiful words. It was wonderful to be recognised and sharing moments with other social workers.”

We interviewed Flo to find out more about her mahi which led to the award and her social work journey. You can read the full interview at: swrb.govt.nz/florence-tamehana-sw-award