AASW Renews call for Social Work Registration - National Child Protection Week 2020
Published: 10 September 2020
During National Child Protection Week, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is calling on all Australian governments to commit to the formal registration of qualified social workers in order to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society.
AASW National President Christine Craik said while the 30th year anniversary of Child Protection Week was the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the progress made, it was important to highlight how much work is desperately needed, especially in relation to workforce regulation, early intervention and the over-representation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in state care.
“COVID-19 has impacted everybody, but it has been particularly devastating in its effect on children and women. Child protection is already very challenging work but due to the pandemic these services across Australia have been severely disrupted.”
“Child protection is incredibly complex work with some of the most vulnerable children and families in society. That is why greater focus needs to be given to how the workforce is recruited and regulated.”
“Australia is the only English-speaking country which does not require social workers to be registered as a strategy for public protection, meaning anyone can refer to themselves as a social worker with limited accountability.”
“The statutory registration of social workers would be a significant public safety measure and reduce the risks to vulnerable people by assuring education, practice and professional development standards,” she said.
Ms Craik said the AASW welcomes the great progress that is being made in South Australia in this regard, including the introduction of legislation to formally register all social workers.
“This is a long overdue development and we continue to campaign for the professional registration of social workers nationwide.”
The AASW has consistently argued that governments have a responsibility to create environments that support children, young people and families to substantially reduce the various factors that increase the likelihood of abuse.
"As the SNAICC Family Matter Campaign points out, we currently have a situation where state and territory governments across Australia spend only 17 per cent of total child protection funding ($700 million a year) on family support services for children and their families, compared with $3.5 billion on out-of-home care and other crisis interventions.”
“The child protection system continues to be punitive, providing supports when it is too late and failing to take into account children’s physical, emotional, social, educational and cultural needs, especially in light of the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in state care,” Ms Craik said.
During COVID-19, National Child Protection Week is a time to raise awareness to the broader community that we all have a role to play in making sure that every child across Australia has a loving and supportive environment in which to meet their full potential.