SSPA supports mandatory registration of social workers to promote public accountability and safety and to reinforce the value of professional social work. But the Bill requires significant changes if it is to achieve these objectives.
SSPA's submission on the Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill has been reached following extensive consultation with members. It is clear that while we support the proposed two-year period before an amended Act comes into force, there are significant implementation and logistical problems that need to be resolved before the Bill is passed.
A key matter to be addressed is the need for a scope of practice to give meaning to the protected title of social worker.
We do not support the complete withdrawal of the experience pathway to registration, currently available under section 13 of the Act. We recommend limited access to registration on the basis of experience (without qualifications) beyond the proposed five-year period.
The proposed system of registration imposes additional compliance costs on the NGO sector which is already subject to persistent and long-term underfunding.
We expect to see an increase in social worker pay expectations. NGO providers will need a funding boost in order to remain competitive when recruiting and retaining staff.
If the intent of the legislation is to be met, a careful and properly-resourced programme will be needed.