Onboard newsletter – October 2022

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

As the days lengthen and the sun holds more warmth, and Christmas decorations start to appear in shops I am reminded that the end of the year is fast approaching.

With this, we know that many students will be completing their final year of studies and planning to become registered in the upcoming months. We invite anyone with questions about this process to join one of our Thursday 1pm information sessions by Zoom, or to contact our registration team. We would be grateful if you could help advertise these sessions with final year students and graduates who may be interested in attending.

This week we also welcome the news that Government has taken action to address the long-standing pay gap for almost 500 community-based social workers (read more here), through settlement of the social work pay equity claim. The settlement covers social workers for Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services, Wellington Sexual Abuse Help, Christchurch Methodist Mission, Stand Tū Māia & Barnardos and marks the end a three year long process. Getting to this stage has taken the hard work of many – a collaborative effort from the five employers, the Social Service Providers Aotearoa as sector coordinator and representative and the PSA , working with government funding agencies led by Oranga Tamariki. You can read SSPA’s media release here. We understand that there is further work being undertaken and we look forward to supporting the recognition of social workers in the wider iwi and NGO sector.

In this Onboard we discuss some of our recent re-recognition Education visits by the Sector Engagement Team, give an update from Te Kāhui Kāhu around concerns and complaints for non-registered social workers, and continue our social worker interview series as we introduce Natalie Hoeflich, a registered social worker working in Tāmaki Makaurau/ Auckland.

Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui.

Sarah Clark,
Chief Executive

Sarah is pictured with Minister Sepuloni at the Government’s launch of the Social Sector Commissioning Action Plan 2022-2028. The plan is available on the Ministry of Social Development website.

Education visits

The Sector Engagement Team is continuing with visits to education institutions as part of the cycle of social work education programme re-recognition. Recently Catherine Hughes, Chief Advisor Social Work, Paula Bold-Wilson, Senior Advisor Social Work Māori and Rawiri Kerekere Haapu, Senior Advisor Māori Development visited Te Wānanga o Raukawa.

Paula reflected on their visit saying:

“It was an honour and privilege to meet with ākonga from Te Wānanga o Raukawa at their Manukau and Ōtaki sites. Their learning is guided by kaupapa Māori, which means they are strongly grounded in their cultural identity, and have links to Hapu and Iwi. Given the changing landscape of decolonising social work practice, it is evident that they have obtained the competency and capability to practise in statutory organisations such as Oranga Tamariki and the wider sector as a whole.” 

The team were also recently at Otago University. Catherine says they needed to go back to the department for the photo from their visit (below) which everyone was very good humoured about.

She says:Shayne Walker (pictured in the white shirt) is a previous Chair of the Board of the SWRB and is now the Head of Programme at Otago University. I was impressed in particular with the strength of the Masters Applied Programme alongside the undergraduate Bachelor of Social Work. Their approach appears to be resonating as they are seeing an increase in the number of students enrolling.

Safe practice and protecting the title of Social Worker

In the last edition of Onboard we introduced Te Kāhui Kāhu and their role in responding to complaints and concerns about anyone who may be practising as a social worker without being registered. This month, we share a bit more about the complaints process and who is responsible for what.

Since mandatory registration was introduced in February 2021, everyone who is practising as a social worker is required to be registered with us. As specified in the Social Workers Registration Act, only people registered as a social worker with the SWRB may use the title ‘social worker’ or descriptions stating or implying that the person is a social worker. Social workers who are not registered may have not demonstrated that they are fit to practice, and therefore may pose a risk to the public.

While the SWRB investigates complaints and concerns raised about registered social workers, it does not have any authority over people who are not registered with us. Te Kāhui Kāhu, however, can respond to concerns about anyone who is not registered as a social worker.

Those working in the social services sector and members of the public can make a notification to Te Kāhui Kāhu if they have concerns about a person presenting as a social worker. Concerns from members of the public about a person not registered can be emailed to socialworkerclaims@msd.govt.nz.

More information can be found at Social Worker Registration – Ministry of Social Development (msd.govt.nz)

 Who to go to:

ConcernsTe Kāhui Kāhu – Social Services Accreditation socialworkerclaims@msd.govt.nzSocial Workers Registration Board-
Concerns and complaints
Individual or organisation may be holding a worker out as a social worker without being registeredX
Individual may be practising as a social worker without being registeredX
Conduct of a registered social workerX
Competency of a registered social workerX
Registered social worker may be practising without an Annual Practising CertificateX

The ultimate goal of the Te Kāhui Kāhu function is to uphold the purposes of the Act and guide individuals and organisations towards compliance, assisting them to remove barriers where necessary. The function also recognises that updates of the legislation are still relatively new, and the sector is still coming to terms with mandatory registration. An educational and supportive approach will generally be taken, based upon a risk assessment. Only where situations are serious, and usually accompanied by a refusal to comply, will prosecution provisions be considered.

Example notifications

Te Kāhui Kāhu has been able to follow up on a variety of notifications to date. One notification received was from a registered social worker who heard another worker refer to themself as a “social worker” in discussions about a client. A check of the public register showed that the worker was not registered. Te Kāhui Kāhu was able to follow up with the individual and determine that their title was not a “Social Worker”. Education around the title protection for the social worker term was provided. The person was unaware of the legislation and once informed, was able to comply with the legislation.   

Another notification received was from an individual who had concerns that a person who held a role that oversees a multidisciplinary service was practising social work without being registered. Te Kāhui Kāhu contacted the individual involved and an outline of the tasks of the role as well as the role’s position description were included in the individual’s response. The individual’s manager (a registered social worker with a current Annual Practising Certificate) submitted a response supporting the worker. After consultation with the Social Workers Registration Board, it was determined that while some tasks completed by the worker may be considered social work-like, there was not sufficient evidence that the role included practising as a social worker.

Students zoom session

We would like to congratulate 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 may have questions about the registration process, holding a practising certificate and maintaining CPD.

If you have any queries, we encourage you to join our digital information session for students on Thursday at 1pm during November. These start from the 3rd of November and can be accessed via this link: https://bit.ly/31H8XEq.

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 their nominations. It was amazing to read about some of the incredible mahi that social workers are doing in the sector every day.

Our social work advisory team now have the challenging job of looking over all the nominations to select the koha recipients. The selected nominees will be contacted, and you may see them (and some of their celebrations) in future Onboard and on our social media in the upcoming weeks.

Newly implemented fees

From 25 November two new fees will implemented, in accordance with last year’s fee and funding review. These fees are to help cover processing costs and will only apply to those moving from provisional to full registration, and these returning to practise after 3+ years. You can read more about the decision on our website. Part-year practising certificate fees were implemented from 1 October.

Provisional to full registration application fee
The fee applies to an applicant who is a provisionally registered social worker and has completed 2000 hours or more of practise and met any conditions on the applicant’s provisional registration
Return to practise application fee
The fee applies to a registered social worker where the application to practise is received by SWRB three years or more after the applicant’s previous practising certificate expiry date.

CPD Update

We have had a fantastic response from the 2022 CPD. Thank you for all who promptly submitted their logs through MySWRB. Initial feedback from the assessors has been extremely positive and they have commented on the quality of many of the submissions, showing a lot of great CPD has taken place during the past year. Once all the logs have been received and assessed, we look forward to reporting back to you with this years’ findings.  

It started with a Michael Jackson concert! – Introducing registered social worker Natalie Hoeflich    

In our series featuring individual social workers, we were keen to interview someone who works directly with whānau in the community. Natalie Hoeflich is a Kiwi-born Sāmoan who spent her childhood from an infant in Tufuiopa, Samoa with grandparents then in Invercargill with her mother. Natalie talked to us about finding a passion for social work, a love of making connections in the community and what Michael Jackson has to do with it!  

Kia ora Natalie . Please could you start by telling us a bit about your current role? 

I am a Registered Social Worker and MNZAC Counsellor with over ten years’ experience in the Community. Currently I work as a Counsellor for Catholic Social Services in Auckland, which is a service that provides both Counselling and Social Work Auckland wide. Majority of my work is in family violence but not limited to, I also facilitate Triple P parenting programme for whānau.

Though my main role is a Counsellor, I am a true Social Worker at heart and I feel blessed to be able to integrate my Social Work practice when working with whānau. I work alongside my Social Work colleagues but given my social work experience I am also able to provide whānau with a wraparound supports when necessary, primarily for critical Family Violence cases and those most vulnerable.

I am also contracted to two Restorative Justice organisations, Restorative Justice Waitakere Trust as an accredited Facilitator for standard and family violence cases alongside the Waitakere Court, and Project Restore as a Survivor Specialist for sexual violence cases. Project Restore is the National provider for restorative justice in sexual violence. In both these roles, the work is busy with the diversity of mahi, but I work alongside two amazing teams that strive to provide a safe process that meets the needs of individuals and whānau that have been harmed.

What does a good day or a good week look like for you? 

A good day for me is being able to reach the most vulnerable and make a difference. Working with whānau to equip them with effective tools that they can use to build their confidence and achieve their desired outcomes.  I enjoy the collaborative approach when working with whānau – being able to connect them to services in the community so the support is not just limited to me and the organisation. To me, supporting whānau is about having the wider community behind me too, knowing who’s out there and what they do, and building strong relationships with networks to get the best support I can for whānau.

What started your journey social work in Auckland? 

Well, I first came to Auckland for a Michael Jackson concert, but then never left. It was Michael that bought me here! Tāmaki Makaurau was great – warmer than Invercargill and I loved the multicultural feel as well as the strong pasifika culture and the people!

Back in the days, I started out with various admin and reception jobs but still felt empty, having realised working for corporate companies wasn’t my passion or filling my heart. A friend said to me why don’t you do what you enjoy doing, I can tell that you enjoy connecting with whānau and friends and helping them – so that’s what prompted me to go and study.

Though I doubted myself, I started with foundation studies and the continued on to complete the Bachelor of Social Practice (Major Social Work) from Unitec – this gave me a solid foundation for my practice. Throughout my time studying, I have made lifelong friends whom I have been able to watch also grow their Social Work careers into different realms of the helping sector, to make a difference for the minority – we also enjoy a get together over a glass of wine, trips away from Auckland and even going to concerts together – it’s about connecting with those you love and care about and having fun along the way!

What might be next for you? 

I enjoy what I am doing now but if I had to choose something, it would be post graduate studies in supervision. I would like to impart some of the knowledge I have from my experience in this field in hope that it could help enhance someone else’s practice. I also think that it is important that there are a diverse range of supervisors to be able to meet the needs of our practitioners as something I have come across is that there are not enough Pasifika supervisors out there.  

What helps you to perform effectively? 

As well as knowing I am supported by a great team, it is important for me to stay mentally and physically well. 

I go to the gym! Go for regular walks and mediate at home. And I generally keep a good awareness of what my body needs for my own physical fitness alongside my mental health. I identify what helps me, whether that’s special times with friends, spending time with my adult children. I plan and go to concerts, shows and festivals and lastly, escape with a good movie or series on Netflix. 

Who has helped you on your journey? 

This saying really resonates with me: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. I’m so blessed to have my village; my aiga, my children, my friends and work colleagues grounding me but also lifting me to be the best version of myself.  Not forgetting my BSocP sisters who I studied with have been and continue to be my biggest cheerleaders, advisors and critics (haha) – they keep me grounded in the work that we all do, and I am grateful that they are vocal drivers of Social Justice and human rights, especially for Tangata whenua and other minority groups which I am proud of and always serves as a reminder to me in the work that I do.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting their career in social work?   

In the beginning of my studies, I remember Ian Hyslop who was one of our lecturers drawing a box on the board, he said right now your vision of the world and community is inside the box but when you finish your studies and leave, you will see what’s outside of the box. Well, we sat in class thinking ‘what on earth he was going on about’ but it’s true! 

You get to see so much – how it all works, how it all connects.  All the things you learn as you go will help your practice in the future. The field is huge and there are so many places it can take you. But if you have an underlying passion to help others and open attitude to new ways of doing things, you will find where your calling is.  

Keep learning and embrace any opportunity to learn and pick up one/two days course here and there – they all make a difference, it helps form your lens and your understanding of those we work with, the community, the system and how we can navigate through to support and make a difference for others. I wouldn’t change a thing about my pathway, it has made me who I am today and the opportunities it continues to open is amazing.

Any final comments? 

I’m also a Registered Marriage Celebrant! During lockdown I decided to pursue something I’ve always wanted to do. I had time during lockdown, and I enrolled at the Celebrant School in Auckland. My favourite line is.. “So, tell me about your love story, how did you meet and how did you know he/she/they was the one?” 

See, us Social Workers can do anything!!  – Blessings to you and your mahi.