Onboard newsletter – March 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

Photo of Sarah Clark

As we celebrate World Social Work Day today, it is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the vital role social workers play across the motu and around the globe. Aotearoa has seen even more challenges arise over the past year, which reinforces the ongoing need for passionate social workers to support whānau through these difficult times. The theme is ‘Respecting diversity through joint social action’, and we see this lived every day in the contribution that social workers make.

To mark the day we are publishing the findings of our 2022 workforce survey. The results confirm the broad range of environments where social workers contribute, and that social workers joined and stay in the profession “to make a difference to people’s lives”. Thousands of registered social workers participated in the survey, and the results  provide incredibly valuable insights into the profession and reveals trends in the workforce. You can read some of these findings in the article below or read the full report on our website.

We look forward to building on what we know, including trends over time, through this year’s survey which will be incorporated into your practising certificate renewal which opens in early May. If you can’t remember the last time you checked that your details in MySWRB, now is a good time – especially if you’ve changed employers/phone number/email address, and makes everyone’s life easier.

In addition to the survey findings, our newsletter includes an introduction to new staff members, Lisa Davis and Pip Baldwin, we acknowledge another koha recipient and we talk with Mike Munnelly from Barnardos on the eve of his retirement.

Happy World Social Work Day 2023!

Sarah Clark
Chief Executive

Graphic for World social work day 2023. Respecting diversity through joint social action

Focus on the social worker workforce

Ngā mihi to all of you who completed the 2022 Workforce Survey when you renewed your Practising Certificates last year. Responses were received from 3,544 social workers out of a total of 7,564 who renewed their PC during that period, representing a 47% response rate. A fantastic response rate, but one we hope will be even higher in this year’s survey.

This week we are publishing the findings from the survey in our 2022 Workforce Survey Report

Visual displaying headlines of the 2022 social worker workforce survey. Workforce composition and Workforce sustainability

Workforce composition

The composition of the workforce is consistent with last year’s survey. Most commonly social workers were aged between 40-59 years old and identified as New Zealand European. Nearly 85% of participants identified as female, and 14% as male. Around 35% of survey participants reported that they worked for Oranga Tamariki and almost 30% worked for non-government organisations. Most commonly participants reported that they work in care and protection.

Workforce sustainability

Participants in the survey reported that they joined and stayed in the sector in order to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Nearly 15% of the workforce stated that they were planning to leave the sector in the next 5 years, with the most common reason given being retirement, followed by burnout. Social workers most commonly reported earning around $70,000 – $80,000 dollars. Similar to previous years, social workers who worked in non-Government organisations (NGOs) reported being paid less than those who were employed by Oranga Tamariki.

Visual displaying headlines of the 2022 social worker workforce survey. Knowledge and skills development, Employer support and Supervision, and standing with the profession

Knowledge and skills development

The top development needs changed depending on the ethnic identity of the respondent. Overall, the most commonly identified skill development social workers desired was social work practise with Māori and ethnic minorities. However, social workers identifying as Māori, identified different development needs, with understanding legislation and policies affecting social work coming out top. They did not report a need for development around social work with Māori.

Employer support

Around half of all participants said that their employer provided them with professional reflective supervision, relevant training and skill development, and a supportive and safe working environment. Approximately 80% of participants stated that their employers paid for their SWRB registration and Practising Certificate fees. Nearly 90% of participants agreed that their employer had supported them during COVID-19 at least in part.

Standing of the profession

Almost 60% of the respondents stated that they thought the status and standing of the profession had improved with the shift to mandatory registration. Participants also highlighted that the biggest challenges for the sector were recruitment and retention of social workers and pay parity.

The findings from the survey are immensely valuable to us and the profession. They help highlight areas where development and growth are needed to support you in your work. The findings also us to inform on policies that help reduce the workforce pressures identified through the results of this survey.

Understanding the ‘social work-like’ workforce

A new project has just started at the SWRB to better understand the ‘social work-like’ workforce. The project was established through the extension of pay equity settlement. Its purpose is to provide advice to Ministers on aspects relating to the settlement extension for social work-like roles, including building a better understanding of this workforce and any public safety implications.

We welcome Lisa Davis and Pip Baldwin to the SWRB whānau to work on this Project. They both say how much they are looking forward to getting stuck into this project. We invited them to introduce themselves to Onboard readers.

Lisa Davis

Photo of Lisa Davis

I originally trained and worked as a social worker, and then went on to train as a lawyer. This led to my experience as in-house counsel in the University of Otago’s Research and Enterprise Office. Over my career I have gained experience in engaging with different communities, working within community-funded agencies, and in managing funder relationships, as well as significant research and community projects.

My previous role was as Manager, Ageing Well National Science Challenge, where I worked for six years, based out of University of Otago, Dunedin.

Outside of work I am a volunteer firefighter, and a reluctant DIY’er, as I reside in one of the oldest houses in my town!

Pip Baldwin

Photo of Pip Baldwin

My policy career begun at the Ministry of Health in 1996 after I finished my Masters degree at Victoria University. At the Ministry I worked in planning and accountability, DHB governance and performance as a DHB account manager, and was also seconded to the Minister’s Office.

I then went travelling and was based in London where I worked for the Standards Board for England (which was responsible for promoting high ethical standards in local government) and also as head of policy for the British Dental Association (a professional association and union for dentists).

When I returned, I joined MSD and worked across a range of policy portfolios, including population ageing, elder abuse and neglect prevention, and health and disability employment policy. I also got a taste of the regulatory world and service design policy working for MBIE. My last role before joining the SWRB was as a principal analyst at MSD working on government’s response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack on the Christchurch mosques.

Outside of work I’m happiest in my gumboots in the garden, ferrying kids to sport and supporting on the sideline.

Professional indemnity insurance available from ANZASW

Professional indemnity insurance provides you with coverage should concerns or complaints about your social work practice arise. It can provide you with independent legal advice throughout the process, including if the Social Workers Registration Board receives a complaint about your practice. Having additional support throughout these processes can alleviate some of the stress that naturally arises when concerns about your social work practice arise.

ANZASW members have professional indemnity insurance coverage as part of their membership. If you are an ANZASW member, you can make a claim by phoning the Legal Advisory panel on 0800 694 294. In addition to professional indemnity insurance coverage, other benefits of membership include professional development and strengthening your professional identity as a social worker. You can join at www.anzasw.nz/join/

Koha recipient – Oranga Tamariki Rotorua

Image of social workers sharing morning tea

Continuing our series of Aotearoa Social Worker Day 2022 acknowledgments, we wanted to share another koha recipient – the incredible social workers at Oranga Tamariki Rotorua site.  

The team was nominated for their resilience over the last few years, facing challenges head on, building strong relationships helping whānau and homeless individuals in Rotorua. The koha was a small gesture from the SWRB to thank them for their work which the office used to celebrate with a staff morning tea. We look forward to even more future opportunities to highlight social workers doing amazing impactful work on the frontlines with whānau every day.

I believe the social workers here [at OT Rotorua] deserve this koha to uplift their spirits and acknowledge their hard mahi. Like others, we have faced many challenges this year:
COVID-19 – we continued to contact all our tamariki wherever they were, we still visited homes with extra care setting side what the danger was, we increased our referrals for our gateway health assessment at the height of this pandemic
– Building and strengthening our relationship with the community services as we think of great ways to collaborate working together; we work with them and have a presence in their own offices
– OT was in the media highlights amidst Covid-19; the stress in our kaimahi Ora was up high but this was no reason not to carry on with our mahi, we set aside our self-care and sacrifices to continue to offer supports and services
– Rotorua become the city of homeless whanau; the demands of our time to reach out with them increased and still continues.
Above of all this, we still managed to carry-on with our usual mahi and looking after our other tamariki and their whanau so as our own during this difficult time in our new life environment.”  

Working together to make a difference

There were scenes of jubilation last year when the pay equity extension was announced. But what led to that point, how did those involved work together to make it happen? We interviewed Mike Munnelly on the eve of his retirement from Barnardos to hear about his journey through social work leading up to this significant landmark announcement for the profession. well as specialising in child protection both in the UK and Aotearoa he has worked in roles in Health, Education and even the Department of Labour! He became Chief Executive of Barnardos four years ago.

Kia ora Mike, please can you tell us about your social work journey? Where did it start?

My starting out in social work had a lot to do with my mum – who was a much-loved tea lady at the local social services department [in Leeds, UK] and the fact that I could play a bit of football!  As a teenager I used to get roped into play for the local office team. I would play football with these great people who seemed to spend a lot of their working day just talking to people! That sounded like the job for me. Little did I know!!

On a more serious note  a loving family,  an Irish  catholic upbringing, , being  taught by Jesuits and growing up in one of the poorer parts of Leeds (we didn’t have an inside toilet until I was 13) provided me with a good mix of a healthy dose of catholic guilt, a recognition of the importance  of service to others  and the need for social justice which is probably for the foundation to why social work for me

What was your education and training?  

My first degree was Economics and Social Sciences at Manchester University. Although not a social work degree as such, it helped me make sense of my experiences and introduced me to issues such as structural inequality, and you could say it was the start of becoming politically aware.

All of that cemented my wish to do social work. I was successful on getting a trainee social worker role back home in Leeds. I had a small caseload, weekly professional development and was well supervised. It was a great way to be prepared for the profession.

A year later supported by my employer I went on to do my Masters in Social Work and professional qualification at Nottingham University. Being a trainee first, meant that I already had some core skills and knowledge, which maximised the benefit from my professional training and meant when I returned to Leeds as a qualified social worker whilst nervous, felt well prepared. I think the trainee model was a really good one and something it would be nice to see replicated in Aotearoa.

Can you tell us a bit about your work on the pay equity settlement?

This is one of the best pieces of work I have been involved in over my career – both because of the impact and because of the experience itself.

Barnardo’s was one of five employers selected by the PSA for the focus of a representative claim for pay equity for social workers in the NGO sector. The others were Christchurch Methodist Mission, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services, Stand Tū Māia and Wellington Sexual Abuse Help.

We did not know each other well, but there were two key commitments we made right at the start that served us so well – one, that we would stick together – and stick together we did  and two, that any settlement we reached had to work for the sector as a whole . We could see this was a genuine opportunity to make a real and strategic difference for the sector and for the tamariki and whānau who use our services.

We had a strong team, and received invaluable support by the Social Services Providers Aotearoa in the guise of Brenda Pilott who has been integral to what’s been achieved. The level of trust and honesty was high. We had a collegial way of working, including with the PSA and officials. We had difficult times and difficult conversations, but it wasn’t tempestuous and was always focussed on a solution. Every question or challenge we experienced came not from a desire to create barriers but rather a place to enable change. 

Achieving this settlement is remarkable. It is a massive recognition for the profession, with the right remuneration, and funding for registration, training, continuing professional development all in the settlement. It represents a significant investment in the future for Aotearoa.

This has been life changing for social workers and now provides a really strong foundation on which to build.

It was just fantastic!

SSPA, PSA and social service and social work leaders celebrating at the pay equity extension announcement at Parliament in November

SSPA, PSA and social service and social work leaders celebrating at the pay equity extension announcement at Parliament in November

You can read about Mike’s experience in different areas of practice in the full article online: Working together to make a difference – interview with Mike Munnelly