Our Registration Campaign is gaining momentum
18 July 2012
Thanks to a big effort by members this week, the campaign is starting to gain momentum. 150 MPs have been contacted since the last e-bulletin. Let’s triple our contacts again this week!
Engaging Members of Parliament
As a result of the letters sent by SA members to their member (also shadow health minister), he has responded promptly to the AASW request for a meeting.
An active NSW palliative care social worker advocate Julianne Whyte has had confirmation by four senators that they are aware of the campaign and interested in social workers role in palliative care. Her local member, having received emails and letters from other social workers as well, is planning to talk in State Parliament in late August regarding social work in primary health care, particularly in regard to our work with people with chronic illness, suicide ideation and end of life care. He has invited Julianne to work with him on a document to present to parliament.
A Rockhampton (Queensland) member wrote to all her local councillors as well as her MPs, knowing that they would likely say they couldn’t help but as she said, “at the next council meeting "we" might be a topic for discussion given that I have contacted everyone”. Gwen makes a very important point; we need to get everyone talking about registration of social workers and why it should matter to them.
Twelve members (that we know of) added messages to their Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter accounts and Stephanie Azri commenced a discussion on the Facebook group page she moderates, “Australian peer support group for allied health and community workers.”
The AASW NSW branch hosted a terrific forum last Thursday night with over 20 enthusiastic people in attendance and one by teleconference. A number of those participants have made significant contributions to the campaign since the meeting. I encourage you to attend registration information event at your local branch and talk to your branch office manager or President if there isn’t one advertised yet. Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT branches have organised forums for July, and South Australia will hold one on the 2nd August. It is a great opportunity to ask questions about what registration actually means and to tease out the quality arguments to make for registration.
Responses from MPs
Some of you are now receiving responses from MPs. Twenty have confirmed they have taken our request to the minister. We have just received word from Raymond, a Queensland member whose local federal MP, The Hon Kevin Rudd has sent a letter to Minister Plibersek forwarding Raymond's concerns to her for response. Another excellent member action and outcome. Thanks Raymond. In Queensland and NSW members in the Minister for Health’s seat are coordinating efforts to meet with the minister. We have collated some case studies from Australia, and from overseas which we can use to extrapolate concerns for Australia, to assist you in your discussions with MPs. The Australian case studies are all used to highlight elements in our submission for registration. Not all behaviours which are sanctioned by registration bodies relate to direct harm to clients, so often go under the radar. They include fraud, dishonest behaviour and misleading employers about qualifications. Yesterday a concerned agency sent in this example:
We recently interviewed for a senior role, where social work qualifications were highly desirable.
The person interviewed well, especially conceptually, but we had a feeling that not everything was as it seemed. We checked Google and the first item to come up was a reference to a social worker being disbarred in the UK, with full details of the hearing. It emerged she had had 2 full time and 3 sessional jobs at the same time and had faked at least 3 references.
Now back in Australia, the same social worker is working fulltime in a senior role with one organisation and part-time in another service. It also emerged that she worked in this latter role the whole time while she was working as a manager in a CSO, without disclosing anything to the 3 employers involved.
We routinely check referees and qualifications, but it is unlikely this information would have come to light. We are, therefore, strongly in favour of registration and also reciprocal links, at least with the UK and NZ.
TAKE ACTION THIS WEEK
Write to your MP
If you haven’t yet contacted your local MPs (State/Territory and Federal) please do so. The momentum will be built by lots of impact on individual members. If you haven’t yet played your part in the campaign, it’s vital that you do so soon. This is a short, sharp campaign. We have to get the message through to State and Territory Ministers in particular that this is an important issue that needs to be considered at their August meeting. Use this letter to write quickly to your MP or others. MP target - 1000 by end July! When contacting your MP ideally use a personal email address. If you work for a government department you’ll likely find they don’t allow work emails to be used in campaigning.
Ask your employer to support the Campaign
If you work in the non-government or private sector, you may also want to send a request for support to your employer. We've provided a template letter for you to use to ask your employer to write to their State/Territory Ministers in support of the campaign for registration of social work. If you are an employer please do write a letter of support. Use our template, or craft your own.
Post an update on your Facebook or LinkedIn page or Twitter feed
Come on everyone we would increase our presence exponentially if all 7000 of us just did that, and imagine if everyone just sends one letter or email.
Get non AASW members involved
Consider organising a lunch time discussion with colleagues in your organisation and get them on board the Registration Campaign.
WHO ELSE IS SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN?
The Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work (ACHSSW), 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Pat McGorry of Origin Youth Health and Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) provided letters of support when the submission was sent to Health ministers last year. Now a growing number of MPs and some employers are taking the next step.
In addition, we’ve asked ACOSS and the State COSS network to write letters of support to health Ministers. We’ve also asked the Consumers Health Forum for support, and should receive feedback from both organisations next week. I promise to keep you informed. If you work with local consumer groups, discuss registration with them and consider asking them to write to the State and Federal Ministers for health also. If they do, please let us know and if possible send us a copy.
Last week we followed up an article from the Sun Herald on “inappropriate behaviour” and “abuse” by social workers in Victorian Human Services Department and on Monday we put out a media release following a front page story in The Age that morning, ‘Abuse by carers covered up'. While it is unknown if professional social workers are part of the workforce under discussion, it is timely that the papers are raising this story.
We continue to plan meetings with the State and Territory Health Ministers. Tony Howe and I will meet with the Tasmanian Health Minister who is also the Chair of the Standing Council on Health (SCoH) on Monday to discuss getting this on the health ministers’ agenda. I’ll be in Tasmania to meet with social workers to discuss the campaign on Monday evening and in Brisbane at the forum on Thursday night. The Canberra support staff will continue to send letters to decision makers and chase up appointments to make them happen.
In finishing this week I want to thank the many members who have contributed to date and have also provided their moral support for the campaign. A North Queensland member wrote, I believe that national registration of social work is absolutely necessary and there has been a few years of preparation and discussion about this topic. The faster the AASW can achieve registration the better. This is a top priority that needs as many resources as possible supporting this campaign now.
Remember the key resource in a campaign is its supporters so,
For more information go to the campaign page and if you have questions or ideas email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
BSocWk MPhil MAASW MAICD AIAMA
AASW Spokesperson on Registration
Australian Association of Social Workers
PO Box 4956
KINGSTON ACT 2604
Phone: 02 6232 3900
Membership: 1800 630 124