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Published: 28 October 2020

With the Queensland state election looming the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is calling on all political parties to commit to the formal registration of qualified social workers to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society who need supports.

AASW National President, Ms Christine Craik said 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.

“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.”

“While many qualified social workers choose to be a member of their professional association and keep up their professional development, 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.”

Ms Craik said the tragic deaths of Willow Dunn and Mason Jet Lee highlight the need for urgent action.

“What was starkly evident in Mason’s situation, was the intergenerational trauma, years of abuse and neglect that was present within the family, coupled with the significant impact of domestic and family violence.”

“For families that come into the child protection system, it can be due to a complex set of circumstances and it is vital that they receive supports from highly trained and skilled professionals. Unfortunately, as Mason Jet Lee’s and numerous Coroner’s reports from all across Australia continue to highlight, this is not the case.”

“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,” she said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers