SACSSP

Social Work

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. 

Definition

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work.  Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledges, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing. (IFSW)

The Professional Board for Social Work  adopted the International Federation of Social Workers’ definition

Regulation

Social work is a regulated profession comprising a body of scientific knowledge and competencies practiced be persons registered in terms of section 17 of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978. A social auxiliary worker works together with a social worker to achieve the aims of social work in providing social care focusing on the primary needs of individuals, families, groups and communities. See Registration.

Practice Settings

A social worker’s practice is generally executed in a range of practice settings, including but not limited to government departments at a national and provincial level; local government; non-governmental social work or social welfare agencies; hospitals, clinics and treatment centres; schools and other institutions of learning; residential care and treatment settings; occupational settings; corporates; community-based organisations; mental health facilities; and private practice.

Titles

The titles of social worker, social auxiliary worker, student social worker and student social auxiliary worker are protected in terms of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978 and Regulations.

The title ‘social worker’ may only be used by a person who has met the prescribed education requirements for registration as a social worker and who is registered with the SACSSP as a social worker in terms of section 17 of the Act.

The title ‘social auxiliary worker’ may on be used by a person who has met the prescribed education requirements for registration as a social auxiliary worker and who is registered with the SACSSP as a social auxiliary worker in terms of section 18 of the Act.

The title ‘student social worker’ may on be used by a person who is enrolled at training institution providing a prescribed qualification in social work and who is registered with the SACSSP as a student social worker in terms of section 17A of the Act.

The title ‘student social auxiliary worker’ may on be used by a person who is enrolled in an accredited training programme in social auxiliary work recognised by the South African Council for Social Service Professions and is conditionally registered with the SACSSP in terms of regulation 3 of the Regulations Relating to the Registration of Social Auxiliary Workers and the Holding of Disciplinary Inquiries (Government Notice 103 dated 18 February 2011 published in Government Gazette 34020).

Section 15 of the Act is explicit in prohibiting any person that is not registered with Council to practise these professions or any act which especially pertains to a profession or give instruction any subject with connection to these professions; or pretend to a person registered for the professions mentioned above. Section 16 of the Act renders that any person who use any of these titles without being registered is guilty of an offence.

The titles associated with any speciality in social work (see specialities in social work) at protected in terms of section 17C(5) of the Act which states: No person registered under this Act shall practise as a specialist or shall pretend to be such a specialist, or shall in any other manner profess to be a person in respect of whom a speciality has been registered, unless the speciality in question has been registered in terms of this section in respect of such person”. Currently, the following titles related to a speciality in social

work are protected and may only be used by social workers who are also registered with the SACSSP for this speciality:

  • adoption social worker’ or ‘specialist in adoption work
  • probation services specialist’
  • specialist in occupational social work’ or ‘occupational social worker
  • specialist in clinical social work’ or ‘clinical social worker
  • specialist in forensic social work’ or ‘forensic social worker

SACSSP

Role

Role of the Professional Board for Social Work

The Professional Board for Social Work was established in terms of section 14A(1) of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978 and is responsible for specific matters related to the social work and social auxiliary work.

In accordance with section 14B of the Act, the purpose (also known as objects) of the Professional Board for Social Work is to:

  • should consult and engage with other professional boards and relevant authorities (for example Department of Social Development, SAQA, etc.) on matters that impact on the social work profession
  • control and exercise authority regarding the training of social workers and social auxiliary workers. It has to work with training institutions (for example universities and colleges) on the standards for the training of the profession under its auspices in the country and determine the minimum standards for the education and training at social workers and social auxiliary workers. In this way a Professional Board ensures that all training (and qualifications) are of quality and at the level that will ensure that a person can practise his or her profession. Also see Prescribed qualifications.
  • to determine who may offer the prescribed qualifications for social workers and social auxiliary workers and set the requirements for the continuing professional development of social workers and social auxiliary workers.
  • control and exercise authority regarding manner in which social work and social auxiliary work should be practised, which includes the standards of professional conduct.
  • communicate with the Minister on any matter of public importance that it is concerned about, which falls within the mandate of the Professional Board for Social Work.
  • maintain and enhance the dignity and integrity of the social work profession.
  • guide the social workers and social auxiliary workers regarding their professional roles and obligations
  • protect the public. This includes ensuring that the social workers, social auxiliary workers, student social workers and student social auxiliary workers are registered, adhere to a professional code of ethics and that no-one practise the social work or social auxiliary work, or say that he or she is a such a social worker or social auxiliary worker without being registered with the SACSSP.

The Professional Board for Social Work needs to execute the following powers in terms of section 14C of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978:

  • direct that the name of a person be removed from the Register kept in terms of section 19 of the Act for social workers, social auxiliary workers, student social workers and student social auxiliary workers if such a person does not comply with the requirements to be registered.
  • direct that the name of a person who has been removed from the Register kept in terms of section 19 of the Act be restored upon payment of the prescribed fee (restoration fee)
  • suspend a registered social worker, social auxiliary worker, student social worker and student social auxiliary worker from practising pending the carrying out of any inquiry in terms of section 21 of the Act.
  • appoint examiners and moderators
  • conduct Professional Board examinations, for example for the purpose of registration or related to a speciality in social work.
  • approve training institutions that may provide the prescribe qualifications in social work and social auxiliary work.
  • consider and deal with any matter affecting the social work profession and make representations or take such action in connection with such matter as the Professional Board for Social Work considers advisable
  • recognise any qualification, subject to prescribed conditions, held by a person (whether such qualification has been obtained in the Republic or elsewhere) as being equal, either wholly or in part, to any prescribed qualification, in social work and social auxiliary work
  • establish joint standing committees with other Professional Boards
  • perform the required prescribed functions (as per the Rules and Regulations, as well as the Act) to achieve the objects of Council (section 3) and the Professional Board for Social Work (section 14B) in relation to social work and social auxiliary work

Also see Professional Board for Social Work 

SACSSP

Social Work Practice

Requirements to Practice

The requirements to practise as a social worker and social auxiliary worker and for students undergoing field institution (practicums and internships) as student social workers and student social auxiliary workers are set out the Regulations (indicated below), made in terms of section 28 of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978. Please study applicable Regulations carefully before you proceed with registration or restoration. Click on the underlined text to download the Regulations.

Social Workers

  • Regulations regarding the registration of social workers (Government Notice No. R. 101 published in Government Gazette No. 34020 of 18 February 2011)

Social Auxiliary Workers

  • Regulations regarding the registration of social auxiliary workers and the holding of disciplinary inquiries (Government Notice No. R. 103 published in Government Gazette No. 34020 of 18 February 2011)

Students social workers

  • Regulations regarding the registration of student social workers and the holding of disciplinary inquiries (Government Notice No. R. 102 published in Government Gazette No. 34020 of 18 February 2011).

Student social auxiliary workers

  • Regulations regarding the registration of social auxiliary workers and the holding of disciplinary inquiries (Government Notice No. R.103 published in Government Gazette No. 34020 of 18 February 2011)

Also see Specialities in social work.

Scope of Practice

Every profession has a scope of practice, which refers to the parameters within which such a professional who has met the prescribed registration requirements may practice his or her profession. The Regulations Relating to Acts which especially pertain to the Profession of Social Work (Government Notice 852 published in the Government Gazette No 15658 of 29 April 1994) provides for the scope of practice for social workers.

Social work practice is executed in accordance with the professions Rules relating to the course of conduct to be followed in the practicing of the profession (Code of Ethics) that applies to social workers, social auxiliary workers, student social workers and student social auxiliary workers

The Professional Board for Social Work is in the process to revise the scope of practice of the profession of social work.

Social work employs the primary methods which include case work, group work, and community work in the execution of the profession’s scope of practice.

SOCIAL WORK

In general, the following acts fall within the scope of practice of social workers:

  • any act prescribed to a social worker through any Act of Parliament or regulations thereto
  • providing counselling, psychoeducational, supportive, treatment, evaluation developmental, therapeutic and referral services to individuals, couples, families and groups of people through the application of evidence based social work interventions to address a range of social functioning and psychosocial issues
  • socio-legal issues and ethical decision making in relation to social work interventions
  • assessing risks, social functioning and psychosocial aspects associated with individuals, families, groups and communities
  • provide prevention, early intervention, statutory, residential and alternative care, and reunification and aftercare services as part of continuum of interrelated interventions
  • formulate intervention plans, interventions, referring, monitoring and evaluating of clients the helping process and goal attainment with client systems.
  • crisis intervention to provide support, protection and/or trauma counselling to vulnerable and/or at-risk individuals and families
  • assessment tools that has scientific validity, are trustworthy and context appropriate and approved by the Professional Board for Social Work, and contribute to the development of such tools and procedures
  • supervision of other registered social workers, social auxiliary workers and student social workers
  • perform social work assessments utilising a range of ecometric, measurement and related tools approved by the Professional Board for Social Work
  • training and education (including field instruction) of other social workers, social auxiliary workers, student workers and student auxiliary workers
  • facilitate the continuing competence of registered social workers and social auxiliary workers through continuing professional development opportunities
  • case management and in the coordination of social services to clients
  • design, conduct, manage, report on, and supervising research into the theory and practice of social work in accordance with the Policy on the Course of Conduct, Code of Ethics and the Rules for Social Workers registered under the Act and accepted national and international ethical requirements for research
  • develop, contribute to, promote, influence, implement, analyse and evaluate policies aimed at improving social conditions, social change, equality and social justice based on social work theory and research
  • advocacy in relation to social inequalities, social justice and human rights to improve social work outcomes for individuals, groups and communities and long terms sustainable social development
  • providing services to challenge and change all forms discriminatory and oppressive social structures, particularly those related to class, race and gender (critical social work)
  • providing expert evidence and/or opinions

Specialities in social work

Each speciality in social work established by the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) in terms of section 17C of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978 has a particular scope of practice associated with such a speciality, in addition to the general scope of practice for social work, as determined by the Professional Board concerned and published in the Regulations related to such a speciality.

See Specialities in social work

SOCIAL AUXILIARY WORK

A social auxiliary worker works together with a social worker to achieve the aims of social work in providing social care focusing on the primary needs of individuals, families, groups and communities. A social auxiliary worker may perform under the guidance and direct supervision of a social worker, any of the following acts to assist a social worker with –

  • prevention, education and development programmes, which include, but not limited to, life skills education, economic empowerment, managing stress and conflict, preparation for the different stages of the life cycle, recreation programmes for specific people at risk
  • assist the social worker with the implementation of parenting plans, family reunification services and other basic supervision services to clients
  • community-based care which include, but not limited to, direct services aimed at addressing basic needs and community or group needs such as establishing community-based support programmes
  • participate in a multi-disciplinary team
  • accessing and establishing resources in educating communities about how to access and use available resources; and develop the capacity of communities and groups to establish resources
  • practical support addressing the material needs, emotional support, practical arrangements, recruitment of volunteers and after care services
  • administrative support which include, but not limited to, opening files, keeping records, taking minutes of meetings, keeping statistics
  • research which include, but not limited to, completing questionnaires, processing research data, implementing research findings

A social auxiliary worker may not perform the following acts –

  • the execution of statutory interventions and services prescribed by any Act of Parliament, other than when he or she assists the social worker with the implementation of parenting plans, family reunification services and other basic supervision services to clients
  • provide therapeutic services
  • perform independent assessments of clients
  • supervising other social auxiliary workers, student social workers and/or student social workers
  • writing of reports regarding statutory or therapeutic interventions
  • independent planning of services to individuals, groups and communities
  • conduct a private practice.

Also see Students

Specialities in Social Work

Specialities in the social work are regulated by the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) in terms of section 17C of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978 which provides for Council, on recommendation of a Professional Board, to prescribe the proficiencies (qualifications, knowledge and experience) required to be registered for a specific speciality in social work and the use and affix a specialist title to the name and/or professional practice of such a person (see Titles). Specialities are established through the publication of the requirements and scope of practice for every speciality in Regulations made in terms of section 28 of the Act. No person may use a title that is associated with a speciality if he or she is not registered for that speciality (See specialities).

The registration for a speciality is an additional registration, which requires an assessment as well as the payment of additional fees (see registration).

The Education, Training and Development Committees of Council and the Professional Boards oversee the processes related to the development of specialities in line with Act and Criteria and guidelines: The establishment of specialities in social work, 2006.

The education, training and development division plays a central role in determining whether social service professionals meet the required proficiencies before being registered for a speciality that has been established.

Currently, the following specialities in social work have been established in terms of section 17C of the Act:

  • Speciality in adoption social work: See the Regulations relating to the registration of a speciality in adoption work (Government Notice No. R. 449 published in Government Gazette No 19930 of 16 April 1999)
  • Speciality in occupational social work: See the Regulations relating to the registration of a speciality in occupational social work (Government Notice No. R. 15 published in Government Gazette No 32886 of 22 January 2010)
  • Speciality in probation services: See the Regulations regarding the registration of a speciality in probation services (Government Notice No. 116 published in Government Gazette No. 36159 of 15 February 2013)
  • Speciality in forensic social work: See the Regulations relating to the registration of a specialisation in forensic social work (Government Notice No. R. 912 published in Government Gazette No 41082 of 1 September 2017)

Speciality in clinical social work: See the Regulations relating to the registration of a specialisation in clinical social work (Government Notice No. R. 913 published in Government Gazette No 41082 of 1 September 2017)

Private Practice in Social Work

A social worker may establish a private practice and render social work services. These services usually depend on the social worker’s field(s) of expertise.

For more information download:

Seven (7) questions you always wanted to ask a social worker in private practice

Professional Supervision

Professional supervision in social work refers to the interactional process within the context of a positive, anti-discriminatory relationship, based on distinct theories, models and perspectives on social work supervision whereby a social work supervisor, supervises a supervisee (other social worker, social auxiliary worker, student social worker and/or student social auxiliary worker) by utilising the educational, supportive and administrative functions of social work supervision in order to promote efficient and professional rendering of social work services (Social Work Supervision Framework, 2012).

In accordance with the Regulations Relating to Acts which especially pertain to the Profession of Social Work and the Rules only a social worker may provide professional supervision to a:

  • social worker
  • social auxiliary worker
  • student social worker
  • student social auxiliary worker

It is imperative that all employers and training institutions (in relation to students) take note of the above and ensure the implementation thereof.

SACSSP

Foreign Graduates

Foreign Graduates in Social Work and Social Auxiliary Work

A social worker and/or social auxiliary worker who has obtained his or her basic (or first qualification) outside of the Republic of South Africa and who wishes to practise social work or social auxiliary work in the country must first have his or her qualification assessed by the SACSSP in terms of section 17D of the Social Service Professions Act 110 of 1978 as to ascertained whether such a qualification is of the same standard of professional education and training as the required for social workers and social auxiliary workers. See prescribed qualification

For more information please see Foreign graduates and foreign graduates (registration)

SACSSP

Students

Student Social Workers

Registration:

Every student enrolled at a Higher Education Institution for a qualification in social work is required to be registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) from his or her second year of study in terms of regulation 2(1) of the Regulations regarding the registration of student social workers and the holding of disciplinary inquiries (Government Notice No. R. 102 published in Government Gazette No. 34020 of 18 February 2011).

Higher Education Institutions need to ensure that every second year student enrolled for a qualification in social work is registered before 31 March each year.

A student social worker will receive a registration certificate and a SACSSP registration number that is valid for the entire duration of his or her studies.

No student social worker may engage in any field institution (practicums and internships) if he or she is not registered as a student social worker with the SACSSP.

Also see Registration

Field institution (practicums and internships):

A student social worker may perform on the instructions and under the direct control, supervision and guidance of a social worker, any of the acts prescribed in sub-regulation (3), and delegated to him or her by that social worker as part of his or her education, tuition, training, field instruction or internship; unless the performance of such an act is prohibited by law.

Also see Training institutions and Titles

Professional conduct:

A student social worker is also required to adhere to the profession’s Code of Ethics and needs to understand the Rules relating to the course of conduct to be followed by social workers in the practicing of their profession (Code of Ethics) (General Notice 292 of 1986 in Government Gazette 10205 of 25 April 1986).

The Rules relating to the acts or omissions of a social worker, a social auxiliary worker or a student social worker which shall constitute unprofessional or improper conduct  (Government Notice 54 published in Government Gazette 14526 of 15 January 1993) applies to student social workers as well.

See Professional conduct and Ethics

Student Social Auxiliary Workers

Registration:

Every student enrolled at a training institution for a qualification in social auxiliary work is required to be registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) in terms of regulation 3 of the Regulations relating to the registration of social auxiliary workers and the holding of disciplinary inquiries (Government Notice 103 published in Government Gazette No 34020 of 18 February 2011) as a student social auxiliary worker from the date of enrolment for such a qualification. Training Institutions  need to ensure that every student enrolled for a qualification in social auxiliary work is registered before 31 March each year.

A student social auxiliary worker will receive a registration certificate and a SACSSP registration number that is valid for the entire duration of his or her studies.

No student social auxiliary worker may engage in any field institution (practicums and internships) if he or she is not registered as a student social auxiliary worker with the SACSSP.

Also see Registration

Field institution (practicums and internships):

A student social auxiliary worker may perform on the instructions, and under the direct control, supervision and guidance of a social worker, any of the acts prescribed in sub-regulation (2), and delegated to him or her by that social worker as part of his or her education, tuition, training, or field instruction.

Also see Higher education institutions and Titles

Professional conduct:

A student social auxiliary worker is also required to adhere to the profession’s Code of Ethics and needs to understand the Rules relating to the course of conduct to be followed by social auxiliary workers in the practicing of their profession  (General Notice 136 of 1991 in Government Gazette 113620 of 15 November 1991).  

The Rules relating to the acts or omissions of a social worker, a social auxiliary worker or a student social worker which shall constitute unprofessional or improper conduct  (Government Notice 54 published in Government Gazette 14526 of 15 January 1993) applies to student social workers as well,

See Professional conduct and Ethics

SACSSP

Ethics

Code of Ethics

Social work practice is executed in accordance with the professions Code of Ethics and professional conduct that applies to social workers, social auxiliary workers, student social workers and student social auxiliary workers.

Please see:

  • Rules relating to the course of conduct to be followed by social workers in the practicing of their profession (Code of Ethics) (General Notice 292 of 1986 in Government Gazette 10205 of 25 April 1986)
  • Rules relating to the course of conduct to be followed by social auxiliary workers in the practicing of their profession (General Notice 136 of 1991 in Government Gazette 113620 of 15 November 1991)
  • Policy on the fit and proper person requirement (2017)

Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles was approved at the General Meetings of the International Federation of Social Workers and the General Assembly of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in Dublin, Ireland, in July 2018. It can be accessed here.

https://www.ifsw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Global-Social-Work-Statement-of-Ethical-Principles-IASSW-27-April-2018-1.pdf

Also see Professional Conduct and Solemn declaration

SACSSP

Resources

Virtual Library

SACSSP

Enquiries

Enquiries: Social work

Enquiries related to the mandate and work of the Professional Board for Social Work can be directed to the Secretary of the Professional Board at the following email address support4@sacssp.co.za

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37 Annie Botha Ave Riviera
Pretoria 0084

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