On Social Workers’ Day, politicians need to listen


Social workers across New Zealand are writing to MPs with their concerns about Oranga Tamariki, the new children’s ministry - and politicians should listen, the PSA says.

Today is Aotearoa New Zealand Social Workers Day, and members of the PSA’s Social Worker Action Network will mark it by contacting Ministers Anne Tolley and Te Ururoa Flavell, among others.

"The PSA is engaging with the Ministry of Social Development about the way Oranga Tamariki will operate, but many questions remain," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"As it stands, the legislation demeans social workers - undermining their role and the principles in the landmark Puao-te-Ata-tu report in 1988.

"Our members in social work are professionals, working with the most vulnerable people in New Zealand.

"They feel frustrated that their voices aren’t being heard - but they’re determined to change that today."

Social workers at the PSA say vulnerable children must be seen in the context of their family and their community - and Oranga Tamariki’s focus on the child threatens that.

"At best, the changes will further limit the work social workers can do; at worst, it lays the foundations for privatisation of these services," Mr Barclay says.

"Successive governments have limited our members’ ability to do their jobs.

"They’re determined not to let this continue - and politicians would do well to listen to what they have to say."