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Social workers should be subject to professional registration

Published: 25 September 2015

The recommendation of the Select Committee into Statutory Child Protection and Care in South Australia that calls for social workers to be registered under the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA), including requirements for ongoing professional development and training, has been embraced by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) today.

National President, Professor Karen Healy, says this is the second time in 2015 that formal registration of social workers has been recommended. The first time was by the Coroner following the inquest into the tragic death of Chloe Valentine.

“Australia is out of step internationally and now it’s time for this to change,” said Professor Healy.

“In all comparable countries, such as the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand, social work is a registered profession and, as such, the public is assured that their government takes responsibility for minimum professional standards and has safeguards against malpractice.”

While the AASW has been regulating the profession for nearly 70 years, including accrediting universities’ social work courses on behalf of the Government and social workers within specialised fields of practice, Professor Healy says registration has been high on its agenda for more than 20 years.

”Formal registration in Australia would mean that all social workers must be professionally trained and registered in order to practice and therefore be accountable to the profession’s ethics and standards,” Professor Healy said.

Currently, only AASW members are accountable to its Code of Ethics, she says.

As well as the recommendation for formal registration, the AASW supports the Committee’s recommendation to develop accreditation standards for social workers in child protection and looks forward to working with the Government and stakeholders to develop these.

“Clients of child protection services are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and they deserve well educated, supervised and professionally accountable staff,” Professor Healy says.

The AASW represents over 8,000 professional social workers from around Australia, many of whom work on the front line of child protection.

To organise an interview with AASW National President, Professor Karen Healy please contact Emma Pegrum, Media and Marketing Manager, on 02 6199 5011 or 0408 200 191.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers