Monday, February 26, 2024

New era of support for social workers

The Social Workers Registration Act passed its first reading in Parliament overnight.

Minister for Social Development and Employment, Carmel Sepuloni says the new Bill will extend the experience pathway for social worker registration by four years, to 28 February 2028.  

This will provide extra time for people without prescribed qualifications, but with years of practical experience, to register as social workers through the experience pathway, she said.

“Following recent pay equity progress, the Government is demonstrating its ongoing commitment to supporting social workers as they respond to increasingly complex and diverse challenges in our communities.”

“The amendment will allow people without a prescribed qualification to continue to apply to register as a social worker, based on their substantial practical experience.

“This will allow more time for the impacts of extending pay equity for social workers in the government-funded sector to be realised. The recent settlement is likely to provide a financial incentive for people to register as social workers through the experience pathway,” Minister Sepuloni said.

She said workforce pressures on social workers were also exacerbated by COVID-19, an ageing workforce, and reduced student enrolments and qualifications.

“Extending the availability of the experience pathway will help alleviate this.”

“Delaying the repeal would also give us the opportunity to consider entry pathways into social work over the longer-term. This includes looking at how to embed tikanga Māori and indigenous models of practice along with considering workforce inclusivity.

“Registration mechanisms ensure social workers are safe and competent to practice, whether people register through the experience pathway or have a prescribed qualification.

“Extending the experience pathway will mean more of the social sector workforce are included in social worker registration accountability mechanisms, which will support the quality and safety of our social services,” Ms Sepuloni said. 

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