Onboard newsletter – December 2020

Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, kei ngā ringa raupā, ngā mihi

As 2020 draws to a close, it is right that your work, your determination, spirit, and persistence is acknowledged.

Social workers are doing outstanding work as part of the global response to the pandemic crisis. Despite the life-threatening risks presented by the COVID-19 virus, every day social workers make themselves available to support those in need. The rapidly changing circumstances require us to be agile, to find different ways of engaging, and be flexible with service delivery options.  Our profession did all of this; we played a vital role in supporting and advocating for those who needed services and assistance. 

Notwithstanding the monumental contribution of social workers, we have all watched, listened, and commented on the media stories that have featured frontline social workers. This year, much of the commentary politicised, sensationalised, and negatively portrayed the social work profession. However, the story that is not told in the media is that social workers are often called on to deal with the most extreme situations affecting the wellbeing of children, young people, and their families. They make judgements that most other professionals are not called upon to make, within a system that requires them to constantly reassess priorities and risks. In the face of difficult circumstances, it is social workers who remain resilient and strong, offering hopefulness and support to others.

I know the impact of a social worker’s decision is never taken lightly. I also know that some decisions are not always appreciated or welcomed. However, the kaupapa that underpins all social work is about care, support, belonging, social justice, human rights, and hope; this is what is at the forefront of our work. 

Social work is challenging. There are no absolutes, it is high risk and mistakes are costly. It is also rewarding although the efforts and outcomes often are not immediate. The social worker does not always know about the positive long-term impact they had on a person’s life. However, sometimes they do. Earlier this month I was privileged to attend the Prime Minister Awards which celebrated young people’s achievements who had experienced being in care. Many of the award recipients and their caregivers paid tribute to the steadfast support they had received from a social worker.

Recognition of the contribution of social workers is an important part of maintaining confidence in our social work workforce, which is critical. Recognising the courageous work that is so often under the radar has to find its way to the top. Together, we must find a way to lift our collective voice, be responsive to the discourse, strengthen our practice, celebrate achievements, and reaffirm the value of practising social work in Aotearoa. 

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te tau hou
Shannon Pakura, SWRB Board Chair

Recognising reliance and a time for optimism

E te tini, e te marea, e ngā tauwhiro o te whakaaro nui, tēnā koutou

With the end of the year fast approaching, you may want to breathe a sigh of relief that 2020, with all its challenges and uncertainties, is nearly over. It has been a tricky and difficult year.

In the face of such change and challenges, we would like to acknowledge the extraordinary mahi of social workers in Aotearoa who have had to keep calling on their resilience, their knowledge, their skills, and their empathy to navigate through the last 12 months, and provide the additional support needed by whānau, families and their communities. 

It is also a time to be grateful that New Zealanders pulled together and were committed to keeping COVID-19 at bay because we care about each other. Ngā mihi!

Many of us are looking forward to the year ending, the summer arriving and holidays beckoning but we are conscious there will be social workers who will be rostered on and having to work through this period which can bring extra stress for the people they support. You enable the mauri ora of all New Zealanders and we thank you.

One of the highlights of this year has been meeting so many social workers, social work students and employers at our roadshows and digital Zoom Q&A sessions. There have been more than 100 such sessions since the lockdowns began, and many questions and experiences exchanged.

Like many others, I am looking forward to 2021 and the new beginnings it will offer with some hope. Early next year, social work takes a bold step forward and joins other professions in becoming a fully registered workforce. All social workers will need to be registered by Feb 27, 2021 and this is an exciting and historic shift which has long been sought by the sector. The move to mandatory registration will reassure the public they are supported by social workers who are registered, competent, fit to practise, and accountable for their practice in a similar way to doctors, nurses, teachers and other regulated professions.

I’d like to take a moment also to thank the Board and staff of the SWRB for their work this year. We can’t do it without our fantastic secretariat staff, especially as we try and manage our way through this busy period coming up to mandatory.

We have made building our relationship with the sector a priority and I’d like to express my appreciation for all who have helped make that possible whether you’re a social worker, student, or an employer. We couldn’t do it without you all.

And as a reflection of the strength that comes from unity, I would like to express my gratitude to my Chair, Shannon Pakura; Lucy Sandford-Reed (ANZASW Chief Executive) and the Tangata Whenua Social Workers Association for their contributions to this newsletter. We are the regulator, but we cannot be successful without a strong profession and a strong professional voice. I appreciate their words and thoughts as this year draws to a close. I would like to wish you a happy and safe Christmas and New Year, and to wish you all the best for the holiday period.

Kia kaha,

Sarah Clark
SWRB Chief Executive

Tenaciousness, energy and commitment

Tēnā koutou e ngā Rangatira,
Kei te mihi nui, mihi mahana, mihi kau ana ki a koutou katoa

There is no disputing this has been a hard year for people both professionally and personally, as we have strived and continue to address the challenges of COVID-19 and associated issues but, through sheer tenaciousness, we have reached the conclusion of 2020.

The Tangata Whenua Social Workers Association wants to applaud you all both collectively and individually for your commitment to the profession of social work, in the energy you have shown, the management of very trying times, but more importantly, the tautoko you have offered whānau, taiohi and tamariki in addressing their needs.

As an Association, we believe that rangatiratanga lies in who we are and unless we recognize this, manaakitanga as a core value will simply be a practice not a belief.

We are excited by what lies ahead: 
• The IFSW launch of the Indigenous Commission and we are currently going through a process to seek representation of Aotearoa New Zealand as nominees for the Asia Pacific Region;
• 2022: 1 – 4 February:  the 6th International Indigenous Voices in Social Work Conference in Tamaki Makaurau.

The Association extends to you all a safe and joyous festive season and according to the Gregorian Calendar, a vibrant and stimulating New Year.

The Kahui

The Kāhui, Tangata Whenua Social Workers Association

Extending gratitude to the profession

Tēnā koutou,

As we approach the end of 2020, ANZASW reflects on what has been a trying and challenging year for many, both professionally and personally.

We would like to acknowledge and extend our gratitude to social workers around Aotearoa who have adapted and supported one another in order to provide their services in supporting some of the nation’s most vulnerable communities. It has been heartening to see social work recognised as an essential component in upholding the nation’s health and wellbeing.

While there have been numerous challenges and setbacks throughout the year there have also been some huge achievements in the Aotearoa social work community.

Of particular note is the unanimous passing of a motion at the IFSW General Meeting in July supporting the establishment of the IFSW Indigenous Commission. The Aotearoa New Zealand IFSW Coordinating body, made up of ANZASW and TWSWA, played a significant role in developing the proposal that went before the IFSW General Meeting. Such an achievement is a milestone for indigenous representation and voice in matters of international social work.

Technology has played a very significant role in 2020. ANZASW, like many organisations, held our first ever online AGM which was a huge success, with high attendance numbers. We also had a great uptake on the daily webinars that we hosted during lockdown. These webinars gave social workers a way to connect and support one another as they navigated unfamiliar times.

The development of the Scope of Practice, a collaboration between SWRB and the social work sector, supported by ANZASW, was another significant achievement. It is a true testament to the social work sector to have a Scope of Practice that is unique to social work in Aotearoa.

ANZASW looks forward to continuing to work in collaboration with the SWRB through the positive and robust relationship that exists between the professional body and the statutory regulator.

In 2021, the Association looks forward to mandatory registration which will come into act on the 27th of February 2021. The move to mandatory registration will enhance social work as a regulated and accountable profession.

The association would again like to extend our gratitude to social workers around Aotearoa who continue to carry out exceptional work. ANZASW wishes you a safe, relaxing, and joyous festive season.

Ngā mihi nui,

Lucy Sandford-Reed
ANZASW Chief Executive