Bowen_House_Beehive_ParliamentThe Social Service Committee has heard submissions on the government inquiry on whether registration of social workers should be mandatory. The inquiry is part of a wider review of the current operation of the legislation.

NZCCSS consulted with member agencies on its submission.  The registration of social workers (under the Social Workers Registration Act 2004) was generally supported across NZCCSS networks. However, NZCCSS supports the view that the new operational model for care and protection, and any changes to the required competencies for children’s workers under the Children’s Action Plan, as well as implications for practice by all social workers, should be fully understood before any decisions about mandatory registration are made.

In brief, specific barriers to mandatory registration included:


The cost of registration and the ongoing cost of annual practice certificates, and 5 yearly competency re-assessment was raised as a key challenge. The current NGO environment is dealing with complexity of need and increased demand for services, along with of no increased funding to support the delivery of government funded services over the past eight years.


The time commitment needed to prepare for registration was also raised as a challenge. As above, in an underfunded and increasingly complex work environment, NGOs struggle to provide the considerable time necessary to complete registration.

Adequacy of current competence assessments and other pre-requisites for registration

NZCCSS has some concerns around the rigour of Social Workers Registration Board’s competence assessments. These concerns are primarily around what is seen to be an over-focus on written assignments as a test of competency.

 The adequacy of grounds of discipline and sanctions available to the Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal

Some members raised concern about the publishing of cases and whether it is appropriate to make public details of cases. This approach was seen to disregard norms of privacy and confidentiality and that would not be supported in other professional groups. While there is a need for processes to be transparent and clients to be safe, this must be balanced.

The appropriateness of suspension and cancellation of registration and practising certificates as sanctions for non-compliance.

NZCCSS agrees that it is important that robust and transparent processes are in place, including the setting out of clear grounds for suspension and cancellation of registration and practising certificates.

Read NZCCSS’ full submission: [wpfilebase tag=file id=6487 tpl=nzccssfile /]