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Published: 15 April 2021

With the Tasmanian State Election approaching (Saturday 1 May) the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is calling for an incoming Tasmanian Government to commit to the formal registration of qualified social workers.

Chief Executive Officer Cindy Smith said 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.”

“For many years, the AASW has been calling formal registration of qualified social workers to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society and the upcoming election is the perfect opportunity for an incoming Tasmanian Government to join South Australia’s legislators in making this issue a priority.”

“While many qualified social workers choose to be a member of their professional association, Australia is the only English speaking country which does not require social workers to be registered as a strategy for public protection. As things currently stand anyone can refer to themselves as a social worker with limited accountability, and this must change.”

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

Ms Smith said that families come into Child Safety Services in Tasmania due to a complex set of circumstances and it is vital that they receive support from highly trained and skilled professionals.

“Unfortunately, numerous Coroner’s reports from all across Australia have highlighted that this is not the case and some of the most vulnerable children and families in society are being let down by the system.”

“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.”

“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. It is time for the incoming Tasmanian government to begin the process to introduce a similar scheme,” she said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers