Onboard newsletter – October 2021

Kei ngā ringa raupā o te whānau, kei ngā tauwhiro o te whakaaro nui, tēnā anō tatou katoa!
To calloused hands working with whānau, to our valued social workers and those committed to the profession, greetings to you all!

photo of Sarah Clark

The SWRB has recently received a number of queries regarding social workers posting about Covid-19 vaccinations on social media. To help provide some clarity, we have provided some guidance on social workers professional responsibilities under the SWRB Code of Conduct and general scope of practice. Also due to concerns raised by Social Workers regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, we are partnering with ANZASW to host a webinar to discuss vaccinations within the sector on Tuesday 2 November. This is an opportunity for Social Workers to kōrero with expert Siouxsie Wiles about the vaccine, Covid-19 variants and misinformation. You can find information on how to attend this later in the newsletter. We also recognise that it is important for employer that social workers have access to the resources and equipment they need to fulfil their roles.

In the newsletter, we also ask for your participation in sector survey, give an update on our Social Worker Day koha and provide information about upcoming student focussed information sessions.

The leadership that social workers have shown over the recent months has been inspiring. Examples of this work were reflected repeatedly in the koha nominations we received, for individuals and teams demonstrating our core values. These were reminders of how challenging the day-to-day work of social workers can be while also highlighting the passion and aroha which makes such a difference for the clients, families, and whānau we support.

Keep looking after yourself and those around you, Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui!

Sarah Clark
Chief Executive

Understanding the demand for social work services

We are seeking your help to gather information on the demand for social workers and the number of outstanding social worker vacancies that organisations are having to manage. We know people are having difficulty recruiting, whether its being able to find social workers, or the constraints of resources. But what would the wish list look like?

Please take five minutes to complete this short survey, your responses will be really valuable. To participate, click here.

We want to add this information to what we are learning about what’s happening in the sector from our Annual Workforce Survey. Thank you to everyone that responded – the response rate was a huge 57% response rate which we are now busy writing up. We will be including the results in an upcoming newsletter.

In the new lead role that Minister Sepuloni has assigned to the Board, for social worker workforce planning, this information will help us to build the picture of both the opportunities and barriers the social work profession is facing and help us to influence change across the sector – as well as provide information for others advocating for social workers.

Koha nominations

Last month we asked social workers and employers to nominate individuals or groups that they felt deserved to be recognised for the mahi they do. We would like to thank everyone who sent in a nomination. It was fantastic to read about some of the incredible work that happens in the sector every day.

Our team had a very difficult time choosing just one nomination, so we decided to have two levels – two nominations at a higher rate and then a smaller koha for our other entries. The selected nominees have been contacted and you may see some of their celebrations on our social media in the upcoming weeks. Here are some quotes from the selected nominations.

Image of koha nominations

Vaccine webinar – Tuesday 2nd November

The Social Workers Registration Board and ANZASW are proud to present ‘Demystifying COVID-19 and the Vaccine with Dr Siouxsie Wiles’. In this webinar, for social workers, Siouxsie will explain more about the COVID-19 virus and how it changes, resulting in variants. She will explain more about what’s in the vaccine, how it works, and what is known about safety and side effects. Siouxsie will touch on misinformation and how to spot it. There will be time for a Question and Answers session. If you have any questions, you would like answered, please email these to cpd@anzasw.nz

Siouxsie is one of the country’s most recognised and respected scientists, trained as a microbiologist.  has been recognised many times for her amazing contributions to science and society in New Zealand. Siouxsie has been recognised many times for her amazing contributions to science and society in New Zealand. She is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Siouxsie became one of the primary faces, communicators and educators in NZ, helping ease the public’s anxiety through lockdown and beyond. This led to Siouxsie being named the supreme winner of the Stuff-Westpac Women of Influence Awards 2020 and most recently Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year 2021.

Register at: https://www.anzasw.nz/eventdetails/11495/demystifying-covid-19-and-the-vaccine-for-social-workers

Guidance for social workers on social media and Covid-19 vaccination

Vaccination has been a topic that many of us have been discussing in recent weeks. Understanding professional obligations, especially with respect to social media, prompted the SWRB to develop some advice on professional responsibilities under the SWRB Code of Conduct and general scope of practice. You can read the full questions and answers here.

The SWRB has received concerns regarding registered social workers expressing views on social media about COVID-19 vaccination and asked what action the Board is taking about registered social workers who share disinformation about COVID-19.

Social workers must follow the law (including public health directives), adhere to the Code of Conduct, and are bound by their employment contracts and employment requirements.

If someone believes a social worker has posted anti COVID-19 vaccination messages and are in breach of their professional obligations, we encourage them to make a complaint through our website. Complaints about conduct are investigated by an independent committee who may then lay charges before the Tribunal for serious conduct matters.

Social Worker’s views about COVID-19 vaccination

Social workers can have a different personal view on a government policy, however, if those views impact on the reputation of the social work profession or prevent safe professional practice, they may be in breach of the Code of Conduct. Some examples may include:

  • A social worker uses their social work position within the professional context to encourage service users to not get vaccinated.
  • A social worker puts their own views before the best interests of a client.
  • A social worker gives medical advice to clients about vaccinations.
  • A social worker does not follow the law or employer requirements.

Social Media

Social workers need to be careful when using social media, especially in relation to opinions about COVID-19 and vaccination. The Code of Conduct applies to social workers at all times and applies to social workers even when they are using social media.

Additional information can be found on our website, and we will provide updates if further advice is received from the Ministry of Health regarding the vaccine mandate.

Students zoom session

Congratulations to all the social work students who are approaching the end of their final year of study and are about to enter the profession. We know that many students will have queries about the registration process, holding a practising certificate and maintaining CPD.

Students can start their registration application before graduation day. If you have any questions, we are hosting digital information sessions for students every Thursday at 1pm during November. These start from the 4th of November and can be accessed via this link: https://bit.ly/31H8XEq

photo of social work students

Cyber security

Last week was Cyber Smart week (18 – 24 October). It was a chance for New Zealanders to think about their cyber security, as cyber threats continue to rise. Social Workers often work with important sensitive information, so CERT NZ is encouraging everyone to ‘Cyber up’ their online defences and keep secure online with four simple steps.

  1. Upsizing your passwords – Long and strong passwords are much harder for attackers to crack.
  2. Upgrading to two-factor authentication (2FA) – a simple extra step after you log in, like using your thumb print or entering a code adds another layer of security to your accounts
  3. Uphold your privacy – Check that the privacy settings on your social media accounts are set to ‘Friends Only’ so only those you know can see what you’re up to.
  4. Update your devices and apps – As well as adding new features, updates keep bugs and viruses out and fix security risks that attackers can use to gain access to your information.

To learn more, go to www.cert.govt.nz/cybersmart

cyber up NZ image

SWRB Vacancies

The SWRB has two fantastic opportunities to join our Wellington team. We currently have the following vacancies:

  • Senior Advisor Social Work, Māori
  • Senior Legal Advisor

You can find more details on our website here or you can email sandy.matthews@swrb.govt.nz for further information.

Appointment to the Social Workers Registration Board

The Minister of Social Development (the Minister) is seeking nominations for a Registered Social Worker member to the Social Workers Registration Board.

Functions of the Social Workers Registration Board:

The Board’s functions, as set out in the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 include:

  • managing the registration of social workers in New Zealand
  • reviewing complaints about registered social workers
  • establishing and maintaining a code of conduct for registered social workers
  • promoting and setting standards for education and training in consultation with providers of social work
  • enhancing the professionalism of social workers.

Knowledge, skills and experience

Members of the Board should have knowledge, skills and experience in two or more of the following areas:

  • experience in the provision of social work services, especially in a statutory environment
  • understanding of, and experience in, implementing effective governance and strategy
  • understanding and knowledge of government processes
  • sound judgement and demonstrated commitment to the social work profession
  • experience in advocating for consumers of services provided by social workers
  • understanding of, and commitment to, the status of Māori as tangata whenua, and established networks with iwi, hapū and Māori organisation
  • effective relationship management and communications skills
  • ability to engage effectively with Pacific peoples and other ethnic and cultural groups in New Zealand.

Registered Social Worker members of the Board must be registered social workers with a current practising certificate.

For instructions on how to apply, click the documents below.

SWRB Appointment Application Form

Instructions for Applying

To apply, click here.

Applications close 10 November.