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How to make an ethics complaint

Members of the community can use our Ethics Complaints Management process to make allegations of serious ethical misconduct by AASW members.

The AASW's Ethics Complaints Management process:

  • Protects the public (users of social work services) from harm by determining the minimum acceptable ethical practice standards of social workers (AASW members)
  • Addresses allegations of serious ethical misconduct
  • Educates and supports social workers to ensure that their practice meets, and where possible exceeds, the minimum standard.

How do I find out if a social worker is a member?

Please contact the Ethics Consultation Service or our National Office in Canberra.

What if the social worker is not a member?

The Senior Manager Professional Standards can provide you with information about other options for addressing your concerns. You are welcome to contact the Ethics Consultation Service via phone or email.

How can I find out if someone is ineligible for AASW membership?

Serious ethical misconduct may result in a social worker being made ineligible for AASW membership.

The AASW Board may suspend or expel a member from the AASW in accord with the procedures contained in the AASW By-Laws on Ethics, and other relevant clauses set out in the AASW Constitution.

A social worker may only be made ineligible for membership of the AASW under the By-Laws on Ethics after a complaint is investigated and determined by a Hearing Panel and/or Appeal Panel, or if a social worker refuses to cooperate with the Ethics Complaints Management Process.

Click here to view the list of social workers who are currently ineligible for AASW membership.

How do I know if my concerns are matters of serious ethical misconduct?

The AASW recognises that complaints are generally made in good faith. All complaints are taken seriously and given careful and respectful consideration, but the AASW can only respond to complaints which relate to allegations of serious ethical misconduct.

Before making a complaint, please read the Information for complainants regarding serious ethical misconduct and complete the Checklist for complainants.

These documents are designed to:

  • explain the purpose of the AASW Ethics Complaints Management Process (ECMP);
  • provide information and guidance about serious ethical misconduct;
  • assist you with the process of making a complaint;
  • ensure that the AASW Ethics Complaints Management Process (ECMP) is the right process to address your particular concerns;
  • ensure that you have all the required information about the ECMP prior to proceeding.

What if the complaint relates to a Family Court matter?

The AASW is prohibited by law from receiving and responding to complaints that relate to proceedings of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Please read our Information Sheet for more information, and options for resolving your concerns.

Who can I contact to discuss a potential complaint?

The AASW can provide information and guidance about the Ethics Complaints Management Process.

All complainants are strongly encouraged to contact the Senior Manager Professional Standards prior to submitting a complaint to discuss the best process for resolving concerns.

The Senior Manager Professional Standards and Professional Standards team can be contacted at ethicscomplaint@aasw.asn.au or telephone 03 9320 1044.

Before making a complaint

Please read the following documents:

After reading the above documents, please contact the Senior Manager Professional Standards at ethicscomplaint@aasw.asn.au or telephone 03 9320 1044 to discuss the next steps.

When you are ready to make a complaint

After having read all of the above and discussed the Ethics Complaints Management Process with the Senior Manager Professional Standards, please read the following documents:

AASW Code of Ethics [2010]

AASW By-Laws on Ethics

Please then complete and submit the following documents:

Ethics Complaints Form (and any attachments)

Confidentiality Agreement

Authorisation for third party to make a complaint (if applicable)

Please send your completed Ethics Complaints Form, Confidentiality Agreement and any other relevant documents and attachments to the AASW either by email to ethicscomplaint@aasw.asn.au or by post to PO Box 2008, Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC, 3050.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers