Onboard newsletter – June 2021

It is very grey at the moment as winter takes hold and we get used to more cold days than not. When the sun shines and skies are blue, that always provides an instant uplift in mood.

I have also been buoyed by the Registration Team’s hard work (above) who have been answering thousands of phone calls and emails since the Practising Certificate round opened. They are working extended hours with more information on that later in the newsletter.

Thank you to all who have already renewed their Practising Certificates, and if you are yet to do so, please make it a priority as the round closes at the end of this month. We also really appreciate those who have completed the workforce planning survey – more on that later!

Renewing the Practising Certificate is at the heart of operating as a professional workforce. This is the document that each year allows you to legally practise as a social worker in New Zealand. It’s also where you declare you are fit and proper to practise which is about making a commitment to your profession and reassuring the public you operate within the Code of Conduct, have supervision, and engage in continuing professional development.

Sarah Clark

SWRB Chief Executive

Code of Conduct informed by Code of Ethics

With the move to mandatory registration in February and the Practising Certificate round upon us, it is timely to think about the obligations and responsibilities of being a registered professional.

The SWRB Code of Conduct should be used as the guiding document for social workers who are now operating as a fully professional workforce, and it covers the professional standards of behaviour, integrity, and conduct.

As a reminder, the Code of Conduct requires social workers to:

  • act with integrity and honesty
  • respect the status of Māori as tangata whenua
  • respect the cultural needs and values of the client
  • be competent and responsible for your professional development
  • protect the rights and promote the interests of clients
  • strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of clients
  • respect the client’s privacy and confidentiality
  • work openly and respectfully with colleagues
  • maintain public trust and confidence in the social work profession
  • keep accurate records and use technology effectively and safely
  • be responsible in research and publications

The SWRB has referred to the ANZASW Code of Ethics in the development of the Code of Conduct and 10 Core Competence Standards, and recognises this document as representing the ethical framework for the profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Code of Ethics is there to assist social workers in their practice; the code clarifies roles and responsibilities within the profession and provides guidance for addressing common ethical questions. The Code of Ethics is not intended to be exhaustive, rather it serves to remind social workers of the basic principles of ethical behaviour and the relevant standards of conduct that should guide their thoughts, decisions, and actions in responding to the wide range of situations and problems they are likely to be confronted in the course of their work.

The SWRB encourages all social workers to familiarise themselves with both the Code of Conduct and the Code of Ethics, and to seek further clarification and assistance from their supervisors, in cases of uncertainty. Both Codes offer guidance and a protection mechanism for social workers who can refer to them when faced with ethical dilemmas.

Catherine Hughes

Chief Advisor Social Work

Ready to answer your questions about renewing your Practising Certificate

The Registration Team has already answered more than 3,700 phone calls and emails since the Practising Certificate round opened at the beginning of June! As of this week, more than 4,700 social workers have renewed their certificate.

With a new database, we knew there would be lots of enquiries, many about password re-sets or invoices so if you need further information you can find it here. Also, the team is ready to assist you with extended call centre hours. From Mon to Thurs, we’re open from 8am – 6pm while on Fridays you can reach us from 8am – 4:30pm. Otherwise, send an email to applications@swrb.govt.nz.

The Practising Certificate round is open until 30th June so please renew as soon as possible.

Workforce survey paints picture of social worker pressure points

As part of the Practising Certificate round this year, the workforce survey is included which has only six questions and takes just a couple of minutes to complete. The information provides a snapshot of what is happening across the social work sector.

The purpose of the survey is to gain insight into who works for what part of the social work workforce, how long you plan to be part of the sector, to understand your knowledge and skills development needs, and to get a sense of the support you receive from your employer and the professional supervision that you receive.

The information you provide is used to develop an overview of the workforce across the country, to support funding discussions with Government, to inform discussions on pay parity, and to support employers to understand supply and demand challenges. It is really important you complete the survey to provide ongoing support to your profession.

The graphic below comes from the 2020 survey results (which is a snapshot only)

Symposium provides insight to Māori & Pasifika practice

A recent symposium which explored Māori and Pasifika social work practice proved very popular with social workers. It was jointly organised by the SWRB, Barnardos and ANZASW, with more than 400 social workers linking in via zoom while a limited number attended in person. As you will know, undertaking 20 hours of Continuing Professional Development is one of the obligations of being a registered social worker and that is part of the Practising Certificate declaration.

SWRB social workers were among those attending (middle photo) and found it a valuable CPD opportunity. Paki Manukau said the speakers all came from an indigenous space which he valued because of his own Māori & Pacific Islands background, “It was their indigenous space and their impact on the world, their community, their mahi that centres them”.

Across all the speakers, Paki said whakawhanaungatanga – the building of relationships with self and others, stood out, “What I really grasped from that was that relationships with each other are absolutely key and we can’t work in siloes anymore.”

Paki said he sat with the Pacific Island speaker and they spoke about the hidden doors within the fale, and what is behind those and how the changing landscape is about opening those stories up, revealing those hidden stories. He came away feeling empowered, “They represented my indigenousness and my cultures, and they are strong, they are qualified, they are empowered, and they’re empowering”. 

SWRB social worker Andrew Thompson found the day and the speakers powerful, “They talked quite personally at times about their own trauma experiences but what I saw was how they had transformed those experiences through different forms of therapy and creativity to actually then changing things in other peoples’ lives”. 

He said, “We often think about healing as a therapeutic process between one person and another but actually healing often is about what you put back into the world, the creativity that you bring. One of the speakers said, “We need to be asking how do you want to heal yourself? Sometimes we do an assessment and know how to heal or how we can make a difference but actually what she was saying was we need to ask people themselves what they need to heal themselves. I thought what a good question!” 

Another symposium is expected to be offered to social workers next year – and we will work to ensure we share the details in our newsletter.

Paki’s drawing of the symposium (below) is his visual representation of what he heard, saw and felt. Best example of note-taking ever! Find out more about Paki next.

Paki Manukau, SWRB Senior Advisor Social Work, Māori

At the age of 7, Paki Manukau lost his mum to cancer and he had to find his space and place. This did not always turn out well. Paki became a solvent abuser and at times lived hard on the streets of South Auckland. His first pou or support was his Nan, a social worker.

His nan dedicated 50 years of her life to social work in Papakura and young Paki spent a lot of time with her, seeing the value of the work she was doing. His nan was his earliest inspiration and from her he describes his first learning; that of service to others.

As a young Māori/Fijian/Tongan teenager looking to find himself in the places and spaces he was in, Paki joined the National Māori Youth Council and became chair of its youth caucus at age 15. It gave Paki a voice.

From those early years Paki developed a lifelong career centred on serving community, pastoral care and cultural competency as a social worker. He has had many roles, including as a residential youth worker, case manager, and care and protection social worker. He has also been a Pastor and headed a Māori consultancy company.

Paki says he’s enjoyed practising social work from a very Māori space and utilising Matauranga theories. His 30 years of social work experience reflects a dedication to the service of people, whether frontline, hands-on practice, or as a manager.

Paki has recently completed a Master’s in Social Policy and is looking at taking on a Ph.D. He is a very busy person! Paki says joining the SWRB is a natural progression for him and he’ll be able to “use every ounce of his skills”. Haere mai Paki.

Recent Tribunal decisions

Below are some recent decisions from the Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal. In the next newsletter, we will include further learnings from our social work team.

  1. The Tribunal heard a charge against Bessie Mihiroa Hanley, registered social worker of Hastings, who was convicted of indecent assault. The social worker admitted the charge and resigned her position. The Tribunal censured Hanley and conditions were imposed for a period of two years commencing if she returns to a social work role.

  2. The Tribunal has also heard a charge against Jubert Moeke, registered social worker of Papamoa Beach, who was charged with professional misconduct over sending inappropriate messages to an under-aged individual.

The social worker was found to have breached the Code of Conduct, was censured and his registration cancelled. The Tribunal ordered the social worker to pay towards the costs and expenses of the hearing.

  • In another hearing, the Tribunal heard a charge against Ms S, provisionally registered social worker of Auckland. The social worker was sentenced, by the Auckland District Court, to ten months’ home detention for indecent acts to a young person under the age of 16. The Tribunal found the offences were committed in circumstances that reflected adversely on the social worker’s fitness to practise and upheld the charge. The social worker was censured and her registration was cancelled.

You can find the full version of the decisions here

Tribunal role advertised: deputy chairperson

Do you know of a lawyer who may be interested in joining the Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal? The role is for the Tribunal’s deputy chairperson to preside over hearings, ensure the rules of natural justice are adhered to, assist in regulating procedures, and write up decisions (when the chairperson is not available).

The Minister of Social Development and Employment is seeking nominations for the deputy chair who is required to have a legal qualification and at least seven years’ practice in the legal field.

Please forward this information if you know of somebody who might be interested, and they can find more information here.