Onboard newsletter – July 2022

Hei mokimoki, hei piripiri, kei ngā manu tukutuku, kei ngā tauwhiro o te whakaaro nui,Huri, huri noa, tēnā koutou katoa!

I greet our social workers who do such amazing work and to the many voices in our sector!

As the country experiences all that a wet New Zealand winter month can offer, we hope that everyone has been able to keep safe and warm with their whānau as we inch closer to the promise of Spring. The first daffodils and tulips are starting to appear, and their injection of colour is welcome as we endure all the grey.

I would like to start by thanking everyone who renewed their practising certificates in time for the new practising year. We have nearly 8,000 practising social workers registered with us this year. Also, 3,600 people participated in the Workforce Survey which is an excellent response, and we look forward to sharing findings from the survey soon. If you are no longer practising as a social worker, please remember to let us know by completing your non-practising declaration.

I would like to also acknowledge the mahi of the SWRB Registration team, who have worked very hard to ensure that the nearly 8,000 social workers were able to renew their Practising Certificates by 30 June. Together they have answered thousands of emails and phone calls over the last month which has allowed social workers to continue practising and do all the impactful work that we see in the community. We thank everyone for their understanding and patience during this busy period.

This is an important time of year for making sure your CPD logs are up to date for the past 12 months. We will be starting our audit of CPD logs in a few weeks, so if you are a little behind with recording your CPD activities this is friendly suggestion to put it back near the top of your to do list in case you are one of the 5 percent of social workers selected for this process.

Next week we look forward to the annual social service symposium showcasing indigenous knowledge, practice and research. We value the relationship we have with Barnardos and ANZASW to bring this event to the sector for our third year, which is available as a live streamed event. The keynote address is by Dame Rangimārie Naida Glavish which is sure to be a highlight.

Sarah Clark
Chief Executive

Around 8,000 practising social workers in 2022/23

We have reached the end of the 2022/23 Practising Certificate renewal period. In addition to those renewing their practising certificates, 3,600 social workers participated in the Workforce Survey. Thank you to all who promptly renewed their Practising Certificates and took part in the survey, and to employers who joined our authorised employer scheme to make payments for their social workers directly.

The survey response has been fantastic, and we really appreciate those who took the time to participate. It will enable us to share workforce insights, including challenges facing the sector such as pay parity, with policy makers, employers, and others in the social services sector.

If you were intending to renew your PC but were unable due to circumstances, please contact us immediately at applications@swrb.govt.nz or phone 0508 797 269. It’s important if you are practising that you have a current PC.

If you are no longer practising as a social worker, please remember to let us know by completing your non-practising declaration through your MYSWRB account. 

How to declare as ‘non-practising’: 
1. Log in to your MySWRB (your username is your recorded email address)  
2. Click the ‘declare not practising’ button 
3. Check the box in the non-practising declaration 
4. Enter the date you stopped practising. 

Continuing Professional Development 2021/22

Looking forward, we will be launching our annual audit of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) logs in a few weeks. Now is a perfect time to keep your CPD logs up to date and upload or log them onto to the CPD page on MySWRB.  

The audit will include a random selection of 5% of all social workers that held a practising certificate during the 2021/2022 year. If you are selected, we will contact you to ask for a record of your CPD (covering 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022).

CPD is important because it’s about staying current, engaging in life-long learning that enhances your professional development and cultural competence. CPD supports you to achieve good outcomes for the people you work with.

Your CPD log should demonstrate:

  • you have completed a minimum of 20 hours CPD during the year and have critically reflected on your CPD learning
  • at least one of your CPD activities supports your competence to work with Māori (core competence 1)
  • your CPD activities are linked to the ten core competencies and that your practice remains current and relevant

The logs will be reviewed externally by experienced, registered social workers, to confirm that CPD has been undertaken, is relevant, and includes critical reflection. It is essential you keep your log current.

Questions about CPD?

Drop into any of our Zoom digital Q&A sessions on Thursdays 1-2pm.

  • Thursday 4 August
  • Thursday 11 August
  • Thursday 18 August

It is the same link for each session: https://bit.ly/31H8XEq

You can also find more information about Continuing Professional Development and logs on our website.

Education standards review – an update from the kaiwhakahaere

He ara pūkenga, he ara tauwhiro, hei whakamana mātā waka 

The many pathways to knowledge, the many pathways of social work, upholding the dignity of all.

We’d like to give you an update on the progress of the Education Standards review. We remain incredibly grateful to everyone for participating in the engagement phase of the project. We have collated the emergent themes that have given a clear sense of the sector’s views on social work education and its relationship with both the communities it serves and with the SWRB. All up, engagement occurred within six wānanga, an NGO hui, three caucuses (Tangata Whenua, Tagata Pasifika and Tangata Tiriti), and hui with recent graduates, current students, and several individuals. We also received very thorough written feedback from many in the sector. All the way through, we have been supported and challenged by the Advisory Rōpū of tangata whenua and tagata pasifika leaders.  

We are now in a phase of developing a first draft of the new standards. This has involved in-depth conversations within the SWRB to ensure that the development aligns with the legislation.

The process from here is the proposed standards will be presented to the Board for their feedback, and then we will be able to update the sector. We anticipate there is a further phase of engagement and consultation as we work through the elements that sit alongside the standards themselves in terms of implementation. In the meantime, we can give you an idea of the shape of the new standards that are proposed.  

The new standards have always had a commitment to be Te Tiriti-informed, and guided by the pou of Rangatiratanga, Manaakitanga, Kaitiakitanga and Whanaungatanga. These have informed the shape of the new standards, which we are now terming Poutokomanawa: replacing the six previous standards and their sub-clauses, we are proposing three main standards – Co-governance-Rangatiratanga; The Student Journey-Manaakitanga; and Knowledges & Mātauranga Māori-Kaitiakitanga. Throughout these standards is woven the pou of Whanaungatanga, reflecting the strong message from the consultation that it is people and relationship that maintain the integrity of social work education.” 

Carole Adamson and Shirley Ikkala

Introducing Peter Whitcombe, Deputy Chief Executive | Tumu Tauwhiro – Chief Social Worker at Oranga Tamariki

Over the coming months we will be introducing social workers with different roles and experiences, acknowledging the range of professional practice in the social worker workforce. In the first interview in this series we are happy to introduce Peter Whitcombe who recently took on the role of Tumu Tauwhiro – Chief Social Worker at Oranga Tamariki. As the largest employer of social workers it is a responsible role with significant reach for the profession. We asked him a few questions to find out more.

Kia ora Peter. Please could you start by telling us what first led you into social work?

Going right back to the beginning, I was profoundly influenced by my parents. When I was young, they became Church ministers in Nelson. From them I could really witness the power of community and the power of relationships. In effect they were community workers for six days and week and church ministers on Sunday. We had a lot of family discussions about social justice and political issues. We grew up to believe in the innate preciousness and value that everyone has – the notion of inherent mana resonates strongly with me now.

The second big thing that influenced me towards social work was a family member’s experience of mental health and the mental health system. Being close to them, I was part of their support in what was a big, sometimes dehumanising system. Although there were some people who cared deeply about us and responded well, as a young idealist I could see things about the system that I thought were fundamentally wrong and wanted to try and do something about.

Where has your social work journey taken you?

After study at Canterbury, I started out as a residential social worker at Kingslea, working with the young people who were there for their care and protection needs, dealing with challenging behaviour, and also those who were there through the youth justice system. From the outset I wanted to be involved in areas where there were significant issues, right where the critical need was.

Following other youth and community roles, I then gained experience as a social work supervisor in different contexts, both in residential and care and protection roles. I was fortunate to move into a range of leadership positions, including regional executive manager for the South Island.

When the Christchurch earthquake happened, I didn’t want to be in the back office and I moved back into service delivery. I became site manager for a care and protection site in Christchurch.

I’ve always had a belief in the value of teaming up for providing the best support– cross agency work, for example strengthening families, or family violence cross agency work. When the children’s action plan emerged, I took on the role of Canterbury Children’s Team Director. It was an exciting time for practice development and working in very teamed up ways.

With the advent of Oranga Tamariki, I became a regional manager for Youth justice services across the South Island, Wellington and for a period of time up the East coast as far as Tairawhiti. We saw some incredible success in terms of reduction in offending rates, and were able to respond to young people more holistically, supporting them to remain in their communities more often as opposed to ending up in secure residences.

I was able to take some secondments, which included leading the national Care Taskforce responding to children who were hard to place, and where Oranga Tamariki were struggling to find safe options for them. For a period of time I also led the team developing the care standards legislation, which ended up including the legislation being written as a child-friendly version to support their understanding of what it meant to them.  Just prior to coming into my current role I was the General Manager for Youth Justice Residences.

It is a huge blessing and privilege to come into the role of Tumu Tauwhiro – Chief Social Worker at Oranga Tamariki just a couple of months ago.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?

It is frustrating, however I think our work (in particular child protection social work) is still not well understood. Social work can change lives! It is a powerful and responsible role, where social workers work with complexity and with heart. Social workers care deeply. There are many untold stories of success and we need to do more to build the understanding and mana of the role, and rebuild trust and confidence.

From a statutory agency perspective, we need to continually strive towards equity and a different future for Māori, and must focus on how we can enable and support Māori whanau and communities across all areas of wellbeing.  Social Work should be a loud voice of advocacy against oppression, and support for systems and practices that promote emancipation and empowerment.

What role do you see registration and regulatory system in the future of social work?

I think [mandatory] registration was overdue and is really important for the trust and confidence we need to build in our communities. As professionals we should always want to work to a clear set of standards and competencies and should welcome accountability structures around our practice. I think it’s a really exciting time ahead for how we lift the professionalisation for social workers.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

First of all, I would say “good on you”. I think it is one of the most important professions you can be part of. I could also say “hang in there”! Whatever agency or organisation you go into, don’t forget your core knowledge base as a social worker. Bring it into your work and don’t let a particular structure or workplace culture take that away – hold true to your aspirations for your practice.

Finally, with the responsible role that you have, what helps keep you grounded?

First and foremost, I am a dad and husband so my children, my wife and my wider family are definitely the most important thing for me. They take a no bullshit approach which helps keep me grounded. I also love to have fun – getting outside, running in the hills, skiing, playing music, and sitting down with my friends. 

The Wall Walk

In early July, the SWRB hosted our second Wall Walk. Described as “Part theatre, part study, part kōrero, The Wall Walk is an interactive half-day workshop designed to raise collective awareness of key events in the history of New Zealand’s bicultural relations. It sits nicely with any organisation committed to building stronger relationships with Māori.”

SWRB staff were happy to be joined by our colleagues from Barnardos, Social Services Providers Aotearoa (SSPA), and the Midwifery council, as well as former board members. Hohepa Patea lead the Wall Walk and his passion and expertise created a great immersive experience for those involved.

Annual Social Service Symposium – 3 August

There are still tickets available to join us for the annual social service symposium showcasing indigenous knowledge, practice and research. A one day live-streamed event committed to culturally responsive practice and meeting Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations. Please share with your colleagues and any organisations you think would benefit from hearing the kōrero of this incredible line up of speakers. Brought to you by Barnardos NZ, the SWRB and ANZASW



Dame Rangimārie Naida Glavish (KEYNOTE), Ruth Jones, Caroline Herewini, Gerrard Albert, Dr Monica Koia, Shayne Walker