Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill – First Reading  – Video 1
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Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill – First Reading – Video 1

[Applause] and that order and that concludes Christians for an answer I call on government order of the day number one social workers registration legislation bill first reading mr. speaker the Honorable and Tolly Mr Speaker I move that the social workers Registration legislation bill be now read a first time I nominate the Social Services Committee to consider the bill at an appropriate time I will move the bill be reported to the House by mid next year mr. speaker this is the last time I will speak in this 51st Parliament and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your leadership but I thank all the staff and wish all my colleagues are the best of water there are two matters first of all it’s very hard to move to here that what the minister’s saying I’m here to invite her to start again but in moving the motion and refer it to a select committee it would be a breach of Standing Orders to put a timeframe by which it must be back before the next Parliament so I invite the minister to commence his speech again and I do ask for members that are leaving the chamber could they do it a little quieter the Honorable Anne Tolley Mr Speaker I move that the social workers Registration legislation bill be now read a first time and I nominate the social services committee to consider the bill mr. speaker as I said this is the last time I will be speaking in this Parliament and I want to thank you for your leadership and thank all the staff in the precinct for their help and support over the past three years and I want to wish all of my parliamentary colleagues the very best of luck in the election ahead – speaker it is a great pleasure to introduce this bill it has been a long time coming with the campaign for mandatory certification beginning before 2003 when the voluntary system was introduced the profession and the community have made the case for years that all social workers need to be recognized for their professionalism and accountable for their practice I would like to thank everybody who has been involved in this next step for the social work of profession thank you to the cross party members of the social services committee for their very helpful recommendations following their inquiry into social worker registration last year these recommendations were the beginning of this government’s response and policy process and I’m pleased to say that we have ultimately accepted almost all of the committee’s 36 suggested amendments so I do look forward to cross-party support to progress this important piece of legislation this is an omnibus bill as it amends the criminal records clean slate Act 2004 I would therefore like to extend my appreciation to the ministers of justice and police for their officials assistance on the technical matters which make that amendment necessary finally mr. speaker I’d like to acknowledge the social workers registration board who have helped bring this strong proposal to the house over the years the board has presented a consistent case for improving the regulatory regime and this bill really has been a team effort the bill requires all persons practicing under the title of social worker to register with the board that will assure the public that anyone who is employed in a position described as a social worker performing any function given to social worker or claiming to be a social worker will be subject to all the requirements of registration it also means that newly registered social workers will have to have recognized tertiary degrees which has been an understanding expectation and many other professions for a long time now this bill makes a number of other changes that improve the system of social worker registration it streamlines assurance procedures to ensure social workers are continually are reflecting on their professional practices this will make the process cheaper for social workers and employers by eliminating the current expense of five yearly recertification process it also clarifies police meeting practice to ensure the board has the necessary information to make appropriate registration decisions it also requires employers to notify the board if a social worker is alleged to have committed serious misconduct if they continue to be incompetent or if for health reasons they are unable to do their job these changes and others are designed to make the social worker registration regime more efficient fair and effective because of this bill any person or family working with a social worker will know that the social worker has been vetted by the police is subject to professional ethics and that they are a professional who undertakes annual development as a condition of their registration this is a powerful thing to be able to say to people who use these services it gives the public and assurance that not just any person can work with children and their families it says to them that New Zealand cares about protecting our most vulnerable social workers will be protected by a stronger professional identity this means that the public will know that they are fit for the job and that they command greater respect in the community for the very important work that they do it also means that social workers can push back if they have a concern and say to their employers no I will not practice under these conditions because I have professional obligations and these conditions are not safe it means that social workers have another tool to do their job and be the professional we know they are and expect them to be now I know that parts of the sector may be concerned that this bill does not go far enough because it does not require people to be licensed before they can practice Social Work however I am certain that a system of certification and better title protection is the best option for the social worker profession licensing as a system which that where the limits of a profession are defined by statute and only registered people can practice within that defined area it’s a very restrictive system and is not commonly used unless the type of work can be precisely defined and for all its certainty licensing does not necessarily protect the public more than other means of regulation so it’s clear to me that after much consideration that licensing cannot be the way forward for an evolving and collaborative profession such as Social Work on the other hand certification works by limiting the use of a common title to those people certified as meeting appropriate standards such as holding a qualification and being a fit and proper person to practice and the truth is that most professions allow some parts of their work to be carried out by people not part of the profession for example you can do many kinds of legal work so long as you don’t claim to be a lawyer and you can provide many kinds of health services as long as you do not claim to be a health professional but what other professions do not do is allow unregistered people to claim the common title of their registered peers so a stronger system of certification is what I am proposing for the social worker profession this bill is an important step for improving the professionalism of the social worker workforce I’ve also already been fielding letters from social service providers wondering what the government is going to do to support this move to mandatory registration let me tell the house what I’ve been saying to them the government the main employer of social workers is listening to them and it wants to assure them that we considered what this might mean for the profession and for service providers before making the decision I’ve also said it is important to ensure that providers and the public have the opportunity to comment on how the bill will be implemented so I was proposing that the bill would be reported back by mid next year Mr Speaker I would anticipate that the normal time for consideration of this bill would be given to it by the incoming Parliament I know that the non-government sector will be interested in contributing and I’d like to see them have that real opportunity to do so I think those views are important to make sure that we have a real and lasting step forward for the profession and to make sure that we’ve got it right so that’s why the changes in this bill will occur in three phases some technical changes will occur immediately to make the system better for people already registered phase two occurs two years after the bill commences every person then claiming to be a social worker is required to be registered and phase three occurs five years after commencement at that point the experience both based pathways of registration will be repealed and all new registered social workers will need to have a recognised qualification though mandatory registration has been widely expected in the profession for years now it is important to make sure people currently in the profession and their employers have time to adjust because there will be an adjustment required employers will need to consider what services they are providing and the estimated quarter of the profession who are unregistered will need a little time to get their papers in order there is no need to sacrifice carefulness in the name of speed that would be counterproductive to a seamless provision of services in this time of transition as to speaker this bill is an important piece of legislation it is a significant step forward for social workers and the thousands of zealanders they work with on a daily basis I would once again like to thank all the people and organizations who have worked so hard to bring this bill to the floor mr. speaker the time has come to move to mandatory registration and I’m very proud to commend this bill to the house members the question is that the motion be agreed to Carmel super Lonnie Thank You mr. speaker I’ll just start by saying of course we’ll be supporting this – first reading mr. speaker and I have to say it has been a long time coming back

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