New Zealand Labour Party

Inaction on mandatory social worker registration unacceptable

Labour believes the Government is putting the most vulnerable members of our society at risk by not acting on the advice of officials to urgently make the registration of social workers mandatory, says Labour’s spokesperson for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. 

“The Government has had multiple opportunities to act on this matter, but has chosen to ignore officials. It has also rejected the advice of the sector to make registration mandatory which was a key recommendation in the White Paper on Vulnerable Children. 

“With 349 CYFS social workers still unregistered and with clear advice from the Social Workers Registration Board that the current system is not working, one has to ask whether the Government is taking this issue seriously. 

“Even more concerning is the Government’s inability to provide assurances that all of the social workers delivering the Social Workers in Schools service – funded by MSD – are registered. In fact, I’ve had to write directly to the contracted providers delivering the service as neither the Ministry of Education nor MSD can give me a straight answer on this. 

“That begs the question, how safe are our children?” 

“Since the system of voluntary registration was introduced in 2003 there have been seventeen cases of reported misconduct of people who worked as social workers or community workers, sixteen of which were unregistered,” says Carmel Sepuloni.  

“As the law stands anyone can call themselves a social worker. As far as I’m concerned, this is dangerous and unacceptable. The legislation needs to be urgently reviewed and Labour is committed to holding the Government to account on this matter.”