Grave concerns for future of social work – PSA

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The future of social work could be gravely affected by a rushed and short-sighted Select Committee report, the PSA says.

The Social Services Select Committee has reported back on the Social Work Registration Bill, and MPs have shied away from including important provisions around the scope of social workers’ jobs.

The Bill would require only people employed in roles using the words “social work” or “social worker” to be registered – which could have huge impacts for professional accountability.

This would allow employers to decide who is regulated and accountable based on cost and convenience rather than good practice and public safety.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay has written to Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni asking for an urgent meeting to discuss members’ concerns.

“We are deeply disappointed with the Committee’s report, which we believe could have devastating consequences for the social work profession and the public,” Mr Barclay says.

“More than 80 per cent of submissions on this Bill were in favour of a scope of practice for social work, and yet the Committee has chosen to ignore them.

“We firmly disagree that a scope of practice is too difficult, as there are both agreed international and local definitions that could be referenced.

“The Committee’s findings undermine the aims of the Bill, and go against the overwhelming majority of opinions it received.”

Mr Barclay says PSA members in social work feel misunderstood and undervalued – and this Bill will merely make that worse.

“Many other professional groups in health and social services – like Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and Chiropractors – have clear scopes of practice.

“Rejecting calls for a scope of practice for social work is mystifying and dangerous.

“We have told Minister Sepuloni of our concerns and we are seeking a meeting with her.

“We believe this is a serious assault on the social work profession, and we will encourage our members to make their voices heard as well.”

The PSA represents almost 4000 social workers in ministries, NGOs and District Health Boards.