Celebrating Social Work & Social Workers


Social work and social workers took centre stage on 25 September at the 2018 PSA Congress being held at Te Papa this week, with a standing ovation at the Congress at news that a historic pay equity settlement has now been signed by PSA and Oranga Tamariki to go out to PSA members.

The announcement came just ahead of Social Workers Day being marked today, 26 September, with Oranga Tamariki chief executive Gráinne Moss praising the integrity of the process and describing the prospect of the new settlement as "the right thing to do".

Putting social work and social workers up where they belong

Rachel Tina Three social work professionals put their names to the original claim: Rachael Baxter Mackay (above left), Tina Corrigan (above right) and Pixie Stockman.

Both Rachael and Tina spoke to the importance of being recognised as professionals and standing tall together.

Tina: "This means so much for all of us. It sets a new goalpost. It means going to work tomorrow knowing you're valued and respected and that what we do is worthwhile. It doesn't mean we're going to get accolades poured on us - this can be a thankless job no matter what, a job of pushing against the stream on behalf of families and children who are often experiencing the worst times of their lives."

Rachael and Tina - who were meeting for the first time - did a stellar job of representing the mana and voice of social workers on the day, side by side as a supervisor and senior practitioner who love their jobs.

This resulted in extensive headline media coverage, including:

Additional commentary from the day included these statements from:

  • The NZ Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU): "In 125 years since women got the vote we have come a long way in New Zealand. However, it’s just the last few years that we have started properly valuing the kinds of work that mostly women do, particularly the complex emotional work that supports children and the elderly. The Public Service Association has secured this offer in less than three years from filing the claim. With every case that union women win, it will make the path faster and easier for the next group coming through.”
  • The Aotearoa NZ Association of Social Workers (ANZASW): "We commend the tireless work of the PSA, without which this victory would simply not have been possible... The Association looks forward to continued progress on the issue of equal and fair pay".

Tackling gender bias and undervaluation

MinisterRNZ2 small Speaking at the announcement Minister for Children Tracey Martin noted that the agreement in principle had achieved Cabinet sign-off to be funded at $114.6m over five years.

Tracey Martin: "It is important as a country we are valuing the difficult and challenging work being done. I am very pleased too that we are doing something about the longstanding and ongoing gender bias and undervaluation".

Noting the combined and determined efforts of both PSA and Oranga Tamariki to reach a settlement agreement, and the 'gold standard' quality of the process, she added that "this is one of those times it's easy to be the Minister".

The PSA/ Oranga Tamariki working group

Significantly the PSA/ Oranga Tamariki working group  that assessed the pay equity claim - dating back to 2015 - had concluded that the role of a social worker withing the scope of the claim at Oranga Tamariki has been subject to historical and ongoing gender-based undervaluation.

PSA OT bargaining team 25 9 18 small

The assessment gathered information that captured the skills, responsibilities, working conditions and demands of social work - finding that skills such as communication, building relationships, analysing and interpreting human behaviour, and dealing with emotionally complex situations were not fairly recognised. This assessment also took into account the unique responsibilities of statutory social workers.

Social Workers Day 2018

ANZASW SWAN SWDay2018SWAN - the PSA's Social Workers Action Network is giving 100% tautoko to Social Workers Day! Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui!

The Social Workers Action Network is a network within the PSA that aims to unify, inspire, inform, and advocate for social workers. If you're a social worker in any sector and PSA member, now is a great time to join SWAN.