Settling into a new normal may be taking a little longer than expected but we are all getting used to change.
During lockdown, we became used to working at a distance from our colleagues and others in the sector, and there were opportunities to find new ways of collaborating and adapt to the circumstances.
For us, that was working hard to alter our registration process and accept statutory declarations, not certified copies, so social workers could continue applying for registration without having to breach lockdown requirements.
We also looked for different ways to engage with social workers and others in the sector, setting up digital information sessions, launching Facebook, and holding Q & A sessions. This has allowed for a level of debate, brought issues to the fore, and allowed us to be responsive as we heard from different voices. We are continuing with all of these so if you know of somebody who would like to take part, there’s a regular digital Q&A session on a Thursday with more details below.
There is also work continuing as we prepare for a mandatory environment. This includes developing a Scope of Practice and mandatory reporting, with more on this later.
We’ve had many social workers contribute to this work which I’d like to extend our thanks for and please know that your mahi every day to support families, whānau & communities is appreciated as we all deal with a state of ongoing change.
Thousands of Practising Certificates have now been renewed which has proved a very busy time for us so apologies if we have been difficult to contact. Thank you to everyone who has completed theirs, and if you still need to renew, please do so as quickly as possible by clicking here.
Digital sessions & Facebook
Each Thursday we’re running a Q & A session from 1pm on Zoom – which you can access here. You’re welcome to join us, and as you know, we’re keen to get others registered so please send this link to fellow social workers/colleagues who may also have questions. You can also follow us on our FB page.
Developing a Scope of Practice
The mahi is continuing on developing a Scope of Practice for social work. You may remember earlier this year we posted a discussion document, held a number of hui, asked for contributions, and requested feedback.
Since then, we’ve put together all the contributions and have asked a group of sector leaders to come together in a rōpū to work with us to progress development of a Scope that is unique to the Aotearoa context.
Feedback received from the sector included many social workers describing practice that integrates tangata whenua and non-Māori descriptions of values, language and concepts. Te Tiriti o Waitangi provides social work Aotearoa with a constitutional mandate that is unique, and we have an opportunity to reflect our bi-cultural lens. The Scope of Practice is a high-level descriptor of social work and will apply to practitioners working across the breadth of social work roles in this country.
The rōpū has now held its first meeting and the group will develop a draft Scope for the SWRB to approve for sector engagement in late August. Social workers will be invited to provide feedback on this through September this year. Your feedback will be considered in developing the final Scope which will be signed off by the SWRB Board, and gazetted by February 2021.
Mandatory reporting – you need to know
We work to ensure the safety of the public and require social workers who are working with tamariki, whānau, and communities to be competent, accountable, and professional.
Both employers and social workers are now required, under law, to report promptly to the SWRB if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a social worker is unable to practise safely because of:
• Serious misconduct, or
• A health condition, or
• Competence issues
The report needs to be in writing, stating the reasons for the belief, enclosing any relevant evidence and for employers, outline any action you’ve already taken in relation to the matter.
There’s a lot more about mandatory reporting on the SWRB website including detailed information on serious misconduct. You can find serious misconduct reporting criteria, which was developed with social workers and the sector, and some guidance to assist in deciding what to report. There are also sections on:
• When and how to report
• What I need to report
• What happens when I report.
We’re also working towards developing reporting criteria for health and competence. In case the above link doesn’t work for you, here’s the full URL: https://swrb.govt.nz/employers/employers-mandatory-reporting/.
Changes on the SWRB Board
There have been some changes on the SWRB Board, with three valued members leaving recently – Shirley Ikkala, Scott Thomson and Khoa Nguyen. (L to R below)
Shirley is a registered social worker of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Cook Island descent, and has been a contributor to the Board for more than four years. As a tangata whenua social worker and as an educator, she has challenged and supported the Board in its journey on transformation from the passage of the mandatory registration legislation towards its implementation. Shirley has promoted discussion and debate around the table of what the Board needs to look like, and believe and behave in the new mandatory environment.
As one of the lay members of the Board, Scott Thomson, brought an invaluable connection to our fellow regulated professions as he is a practising physiotherapist and also sits on the Physiotherapy Board. That connection has helped the SWRB build our relationships with other regulators and ensure that we are following good practice. It also helped to align ourselves with others in the regulated space so that social workers are seen to be positioned alongside other regulated professions.
Khoa Nguyen brought a wealth of financial management experience to the SWRB Board and has seen a transformation in the use of systems to ensure that we understand our costs and are operating in a financially stable way. We know that this is really important because we are funded through fees and we work hard to be efficient and keep our fees as low as possible and we remain on the lower end of the fee scale for regulators.
We welcome three new Board members – Hori Ahomiro, Jeff Sanders and Adam Davy, and will introduce you to them in following newsletters.
Meet a registration team member: Bobbie
My name is Bobbie and I am a registration officer with the Social Workers Registration Board and have worked here for over two years. I am from Ireland and have been living in New Zealand for over three years. I have a Bachelor’s degree in applied social studies and I am hoping to complete my masters of social work in New Zealand.
I wanted to work at the SWRB as I come from the social care sector in Ireland and have worked alongside social workers in the past. I strongly believe in the work that social workers do. I wanted to be a part of the mahi that ensured social workers are fit and proper to work with the most vulnerable people in society. It has been a pleasure working here and being part of the change.
Areas I have worked in, in this role include the non-binding assessments for overseas social workers, competence assessments, visiting students at their institutions, working alongside complex cases, processing applications, reviewing our process as we move towards mandatory registration and more recently I lead our first CPD audit.
Highlights for me thus far in this role has been meeting the social workers throughout New Zealand and supporting them throughout the process, hearing the news about mandatory registration and working alongside some inspiring colleagues.
Bobbie, Registration Officer