See More


Published: 3 December 2020

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) has commended the South Australian Parliament for its bipartisan commitment and national leadership, as the first Australian state to develop specific legislation for the statutory registration of social workers.

AASW Chief Executive Officer Cindy Smith welcomed the release of the final report of The Joint Committee on The Social Workers Registration Bill 2018, with South Australia taking the lead, putting in place a state based legislative framework for the registration of the social work profession.

Ms Smith said when this legislation is introduced early next year it will significantly improve the quality of social work services in the South Australian community and will hopefully have a ripple effect across the nation.

“Comparable countries such as the UK, USA, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada have long recognised the complexity of social work and have regulatory schemes for social workers. This groundbreaking legislation is a first for South Australia (and indeed Australia) and hopefully it will be replicated in every state and territory in the near future.”

“Currently in Australia, anyone can call themselves a social worker and this is a significant public safety issue. The AASW has been calling for formal registration for several decades as it would protect the public from unprofessional practice.”

“The findings of the South Australian coroner investigating the tragic death of Chloe Valentine in 2012 called for formal registration of social workers and now thankfully this is finally closer to becoming a reality.”

“Social workers work with extremely vulnerable clients in challenging and complex circumstances in relation to a range of issues including mental health, family violence, child abuse, elder abuse, disability, housing, poverty, alcohol and other drugs. For individuals, families and communities that need assistance, it is vital that they receive supports from highly trained and skilled professionals.”

“For social workers to gain registration, they will need to have a recognized qualification, meet a high standard of ongoing professional development and legal complaints and disciplinary process.”

“When the legislation is passed, it will go a long way towards reinforcing and building public confidence in the skills and accountability of Australian social workers,” she said.

The AASW will be closely reviewing the legislation over the coming days in anticipation of the legislation being voted on by the South Australian Parliament in early 2021.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers