South Africa: Project launched to address social workers' skills

By Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria - The South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) will on Thursday unveil a project which will help ensure that all registered social workers understand and know what is expected of them in their daily professional practice.

The Ethics in Social Work project will be launched in Pretoria by SACSSP in conjunction with the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA).

SACSSP President Marilyn Boitumelo Setlalentoa said the council had embarked on this program of action to empower social workers and alert them to the perils of professional misconduct.

"With the focus worldwide on ethical responsibilities to the communities we serve and society as a whole, it is imperative that we, as a statutory council responsible for the setting of standards, practice and registration of all social service professionals under the auspices of the Professional Board for Social Work, ensure that all registered members understand and know what is expected of them in their daily professional practice," Ms Setlalentoa said.

She said social workers must be held accountable for poor service delivery and non-compliance to the Social Service Professions Act, 110 of 1978, as amended.

While it is a profession that demands of its practitioners a high sense of personal and professional values, it also requires a genuine sense of care for human welfare, she noted.

The council also investigates complaints of unprofessional conduct ranging from practicing without being registered, fraudulent foster care grants, acts of dishonesty, maintenance of confidentiality, objectivity especially when submitting statutory reports to the courts, among others.

Ms Setlalentoa warned that the SACSSP regarded unprofessional conduct in a serious light and that they were thoroughly investigated.

"IF found to be liable, the social worker's professional career may be at stake. Their names may be removed from the Register and in addition, many social workers face being deregistered for non-payment of their annual fees, which is a requirement by law.

"In effect, if a social worker's name is removed from the register, he or she may not be employed or practice as a social worker unless they have applied to the SACSSP to have their names restored to the register," Ms Setlalentoa said. - BuaNews