A proposal to establish a Code of Conduct for unregistered health practitioners has been rejected by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).

Instead, the AASW is calling on the government to register the profession under a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS).

This scheme would be administered along with other Health Professionals under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The AASW is strongly supporting external regulation rather than a Code of Conduct to ensure professional standards are maintained and vulnerable clients are protected.

In the UK, USA and New Zealand, social work is a registered profession.

Social Workers work with people who may be ill, in crisis, frail or abusing alcohol or other drugs. This includes victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, children at risk, homeless people and socially and geographically isolated people.

Due to their vulnerabilities, these groups often lack the resources necessary to protect themselves from harm or to report harm or malpractice after it has occurred says the AASW.

Recent revelations of the abuse of vulnerable children by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has highlighted the need for stronger safeguards.

“In these cases abuse has taken decades to emerge and has required government inquiries rather than administrative or legal avenues to reveal the extent of the abuse,” the AASW states.

The VHPA is encouraging members to support the AASW campaign for national registration of Social Workers.

“Many of our members are already registered with AHPRA, including Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Medical Radiation Practitioners and Occupational Therapists. It’s time for Social Workers to be recognised with National Registration as well,” said Andrew Hewat, VHPA Assistant Secretary.

>> Click here for further information on the AASW campaign
>> Please become a ‘friend of the registration campaign’ ­— you don’t have to be a Social Worker to help!