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Ethics & Practice Standards Consultation Service

Ethics Consultation Service

The AASW Ethics consultation service has four key responsibilities:

  1. The delivery of consultations which assists in facilitating ethical decision-making processes of Members and relevant others.
  2. Intake and referral processes for Members seeking legal advice from Maurice Blackburn 
  3. Provides members with an opportunity to engage in an ethical and professional consultation regarding their legal enquiry to ensure best practices 
  4. Responsible for clarifying for Members what constitutes SW activity for insurance purposes and educating insurer on SW practices.

Ethics and Practice Standards Consultation Service (Members only) 

The Ethics and Practice Standards Consultation Service is a free service for members and relevant others (such as employers of AASW members) to consider, discuss and process ethical dilemmas and ethical practice issues. Our ethics and practice standards staff can provide both verbal and written information in relation to ethics and practice issues and assist in linking ethical and best practice decision making to the Code of EthicsPractice Standards and broader ethical and practice theories. 

The ethics consultation service can be contacted by email, or phone 03 9320 1000. 

Information and resources can also be accessed on the AASW website here and below. 

The service has also developed a range of ethics and practice guidelines and resources for social workers that address common issues arising in consultations. Members are encouraged to refer to these guidelines in the first instance before contacting for a consultation. The guidelines currently include information and guidance on the following topics:

  • Using client information for research and education
  • Workplace and Industrial relations
  • Self employment and private practice
  • Field education
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Writing Court Reports
  • Consent and Working With Children
  • Case Note Recording
  • ‘You’ve Been Served’ – Responding to a Subpoena
  • International ethics – Australian Social Workers Overseas 
  • Supporting Ethical Practice in the Workplace 
  • Professional Boundaries and Dual Relationships 
  • Information Management 
  • Conflicts of Interest 
  • Social media, Information and Communication Technologies

Click to view Ethics and practice guidelines

One of the primary objectives of the AASW is to ensure that social workers are equipped with the skills, knowledge and reflective resources to ensure high standards of practice and prevent ethical misconduct and harm to the public. 

Taking the time to discuss any issues raised by concerned clients is often the quickest, easiest and most respectful way to resolve complaints. 

If a client is concerned about a service provided, or with something that was said or occurred in the course of the service provision, it is important to listen and consider how the concern could be addressed. Often, providing a clear explanation or acknowledging that something went wrong, even if it was unavoidable, can resolve any concerns or issues. 

Always consider if your response is appropriate first, and ensure you are aware, and your clients are aware, of your employer’s complaint management processes. If you can’t resolve a concern, we are here to help. AASW members can contact our Ethics and Practice Standards Consultation Service to discuss options and strategies for respectful resolution of concerns. 

The Ethics and Practice Standards Consultation Service is managed by the Professional Officer – Ethics and Standards, who works closely with a team of national ethics and practice standards experts. 

The service  is for Members and relevant others such as employers, Leaders of Social work teams.

The Code of Ethics, Practice Standards and Ethics and Practice Guidelines provide extensive guidance for ethical practice and will often address the common issues arising in consultations. Please refer to these documents in the first instance before contacting the Professional Officer – Ehics and Standards at:

[email protected] or on (03) 9320 1000. 

*Please ensure that you include the area code (03) if calling from outside Victoria.