SA Council for Social Services Professions and Central Drug Authority: Budget briefings

Social Development

08 March 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 March 2005
SA COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL SERVICES PROFESSIONS
AND CENTRAL DRUG AUTHORITY: BUDGET BRIEFINGS

Chairperson:
Ms T Tshivase (ANC)

Documents handed out:
SA Council for Social Services Professions briefing
SA Council for Social Services Professions presentation
Central Drug Authority briefing

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed by the SA Council for Social Services Professions (SACSSP) and the Central Drug Authority (CDA) on their strategic plans and budgets. In the last year, SACSSP had established two professional boards and was planning to establish more, but required more funding. The salaries of social workers remained problematically low and the profession was facing staffing shortages. Changes were being made to education in order to standardise training. Members were concerned with salaries for social workers as it led to poor attitudes and the workers abusing their positions. These abuses required SACSSP to be heavily involved in disciplinary action.

The Central Drug Authority was responsible for facilitating and monitoring activities under the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP). It dealt with substance abuse issues with the Substance Abuse office of the Department of Social Development. A breakdown of expenditure was given. The major problem the CDA faced was its low budget. Members were concerned about this and with the implementation of education and other programmes targeting the youth and the disabled.

MINUTES

SA Council for Social Services Professions briefing
Ms Setlalentoa briefed the Committee on the Council’s budget programmes and activities for 2005/2006. The Council was the authority for the social service professions and protected the interests of clients and those registered with it. The Council had already established the first two professional boards and was planning to establish more, but required more funding. The budget was comprised of funds generated by the Council itself and funding from the Department of Social Development (DSD). The major challenges were low salaries for social service workers and the widening gap between salaries in the public and NGO sectors. Problems were also faced because of the shortage of workers as many were leaving to work abroad. The first National Conference for Social Service Professions had been held, and the Council was working to improve and standardise education and training.

Discussion
Ms H Bogopane-Zulu (ANC) asked whether the name change of the social worker programme in universities would mean that the curriculum would also be standardised and whether attempts to popularise the name of the Council would make it more accessible to the public. She felt that social workers had been more effective in the past and asked if that was because of their training or because of low morale.

Mr Waters said that the SACSSP was a statutory body established under the terms of the Social Service Professional Act, yet did not receive funding from the government. He asked if that had always been the case or if they had applied for consistent annual funding. He also said that there had been a delay in the establishment of the professional board for social workers, and asked for elaboration on why that had been the case and its impact on service delivery. The Minister had said that he wanted to establish a minimum wage for social workers in the NGO sector, which could create more unemployment and less service provision unless the government funded NGOs accordingly. Mr Waters asked what the Council’s involvement had been in terms of consultation on the Finance Policy for NGOs.

The Chairperson asked who composed the Council.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked if the Council had researched the Finance Policy for NGOs to determine whether it would positively impact salaries, what their findings had been and whether they would take that research further.

Ms H Weber (DA) asked if there was any regulation which stipulated the tasks of social workers in private practice as opposed to public practice and asked for elaboration on what the funding for ‘professional conduct’ was meant for.

Ms I Direko (ANC) said that the salary for social workers was of primary concern and that, while social workers may be demoralised, their attitude and work ethic was unacceptable. She gave an example of abuse of clients by social workers and suggested that the code of conduct should spell out ethical responsibilities for workers so that the profession received the respectability that it deserved. The Department must realise that social workers must be treated with respect and remunerated appropriately.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) asked what the difference was between ‘professionalisation’ and professional conduct and whether there was any standardisation of the charges for services rendered by private and public social workers.

Ms Setlalentoa said that the standards generating body for social work looked at developing a programme that was similar for all universities, so that by January 2007, all universities would be following the same programme. This would enable students to move from one school to another. Public relations attempted to popularise the Council because in the past it had been seen as a body to harass workers, and this mindset had to be changed. They tried to show the good that SACSSP did by making changes to the newsletter to make it more appealing and accessible so that it could be used as an education tool for those who were not yet on the Council’s register. Universities did not do much training of social workers in working with the disabled and the elderly, but they were trained to be sensitive and inclusive to the vulnerable. There were problems with the attitudes of social workers, but they were taught ethics throughout their training. The Social Services Professions Act stated clearly acceptable, professional behaviour and the Act was used when workers were disciplined. Salaries were a main issue, but the work was also about passion, so it was important for social workers to remember that they were there to help. Communities that complained to the Council were called to present their case to the Committee for Disciplinary Investigation and if there was misconduct, the social worker was charged and disciplined. The expenses incurred under ‘professional conduct’ were for the disciplinary hearing, for the complainant, travel and other expenses of those involved.

Dr Lombard said that the Council did not receive regular funding from the Department, but that in the past three years they had applied for funding for various projects, mainly to establish the professional boards. This irregular funding was probably because there were other professional councils that did not receive funding either and because a professional regulatory council was an autonomous body and did not want to be jeopardised by receiving money from the government. There were two processes involved in the establishment of the professional boards. The board members had to be elected by the constituency, which was the responsibility of the registrar and his office, and that phase had been completed on time. The second process involved nominated members being appointed by the Minister, which had been delayed because of insufficient nominations and the length of time it took to establish board regulations and publish them in the government Gazette. The NGO sector was very concerned about the proposed establishment of a minimum wage because if the government did not provide the required money in the form of subsidisation, NGOs would be unable to pay their social workers. ‘Professionalisation’ was one of the Council’s programmes and referred to the establishment of the professional boards. Establishing the boards elevated the occupation to that of a profession and required work on education and establishing open registers. Professional conduct dealt with complaints from consumers of social services and included disciplinary action when necessary.

Ms Setlalentoa said that public and private social workers were both registered with the Council and regulated by it. Private social workers could also be registered with the South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice (SAASWPP), but not all were. SACSSP and SAASWPP would work together if disciplinary action was necessary, but private social workers had to go through SAASWPP to claim medical aid. One staff member from SACSSP had been involved with the development of the NGO Finance Policy, but only provided input so that in the end it remained just a document for the Department. Various parties had problems with the policy because it provided no infrastructure for costing services and there had been no research done to determine how much services cost in different areas, so it provided a ‘one size fits all’ system. To create a document that was satisfactory, they must find out how much the services cost. Charges for adoption were based on a model that SACSSP had designed, but they were aware that there were discrepancies in the actual amounts charged.

Mr B Solo (ANC) said that the remuneration and attitude of social workers were the critical issues. The Minister of Labour had looked at input from the various statutory bodies to create the guidelines in the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act to provide uniform standards. All parties affected should have looked at these Acts to see what they meant for their respective fields of work. Attitude and professionalism were problems that had been raised often but never fixed. There was a difference in the approach and commitment of social workers in the past, and the government should look at training at universities because it seemed that the training did not develop a relationship between the social workers and the communities they would be working in. Mr Solo had received a list of cases of abuse that had been on the table for two years but had not been resolved because the state did not provide sufficient support. He said that the three-year allocation from the state looked like annual funding and asked if the Department was represented in SACSSP.

The Chairperson said that the Council was autonomous.

Dr Lombard said that the Council was an autonomous body but that it administered the Social Service Professions Act on behalf of the Department, and that the Department had been represented by employees who served as members of the Council.

Mr Solo said that he was more confused because the Council was meant to design policy and legislation and see how it impacted on practitioners and beneficiaries. He felt that the Council was more concerned with disciplinary hearings and the training of social workers and that the Department was more concerned with legislation, policy, the regulatory framework and support for these bodies. It seemed they were conflated into one and this was the reason they did not realise the impact of the social services and were unable to deal with the problem of salaries.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that public relations should focus more on the beneficiaries and the public to make them more aware of the Council’s work. In this way the social workers would be more accountable and also more protected from abuse from the community. While the training was being harmonised, the content should also be reviewed as it pertained to people with disabilities. In 1997, South Africa moved from the medical model to the social model, but the training had not reflected that change. Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked what the Council was doing to ensure that awareness was being raised about the profession, especially among Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners to encourage them to become social workers. As there was a shortage of social workers, the Council should have a campaign to encourage the return of social workers who had left the profession. Two provinces had not yet addressed how they would deal with salary increases and she asked if the Council had come up with a way to manage or engage those provinces in order to avoid a strike or crisis.

Ms Setlalentoa said that the public relations campaign was not just for social workers, but was implemented in universities and other settings to familiarise people with the Council. It was difficult for the Council to drive salary increases on its own because that was not in its mandate. In a document submitted to the Departments of Social Development and Public Service and Administration, they had called on all the other stakeholders to come together to deal with the issue. The Council was also attempting to lobby for increased salaries in various ways. There had been cases of inappropriate conduct that the Council must deal with in order to protect the consumers, and they had looked at ways of using restorative justice as a way to deal with problems.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked for clarity on whether the Social Services Act was the only guideline that the Council followed in terms of their mandate. Even though they could not take responsibility for certain issues like salaries, they should offer some assistance for members. She asked what practitioners who paid their membership fee could expect to receive from the Council. The important group to target in terms of promoting the profession was the young people who were not yet in university.

Ms Weber said that social workers had a bad reputation and asked if those entering the profession were doing so because they were passionate about it. The selection process in universities may have been too focused on academics instead of selecting those who were passionate.

Ms Dudley said that any passion they may have had was knocked out of them by the difficult circumstances of their jobs. She asked how quickly the Council was able to deal with complaints and whether they were able to make people aware of the resolution that had been reached.

Ms Direko said that the Council could not change the Act and had to comply with its requirements. This type of watchdog body was necessary to keep the government aware of the problems and loopholes that existed in order to empower them to make changes. The Council represented the government on the ground and was needed to keep workers in line, and the government, the Portfolio Committee and the Council must work together to ensure that they were getting a calibre of social worker that was sensitive to the needs of vulnerable populations.

The Chairperson said that the Constitution was the "head" of the country and welfare was the heart, and as such, the Council and Parliament were concerned about the vulnerable.

Ms Setlalentoa said that students who could not get into the programmes they wanted because of their matric grades ended up in social sciences and social work, and these students were not passionate. When a community member or employer laid a charge against a social worker, the Committee for Preliminary Investigation put together a document and asked the worker to respond. The investigators then decided if there was a case or not, informed the parties involved, and if need be, held a disciplinary hearing. The length of time of the response varied between three months to a year. The cases now on the table had been delayed because for six months there had been no Council.

Mr Lombard said that the Council’s mandate was contained in the Social Service Professions Act, but it was not restricted to that. On the issue of salaries, the Council had taken the initiative to bring the players involved together. The Council also had the responsibility to see that the Act was changed when necessary and consulted with the constituency to request that the Act be amended through the Department and the Minister. This was one of the current priorities of the Council now that it had been extended to include more social service professions.

Ms Setlalentoa said that marketing the profession in high schools was something the Council should consider.

Central Drug Authority briefing
Prof Rataemane briefed the Committee on the CDA’s strategic plan and budget. The CDA was responsible for facilitating and monitoring activities under the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) and for dealing with substance abuse issues. The CDA was allocated an amount of R400 000 to conduct meetings, carry out various monitoring and evaluation activities, produce a newsletter and facilitate the NDMP. The CDA did not have a budget of its own, but shared a budget with the substance abuse line function within the Department of Social Development.

Discussion
Mr Waters said that he had not seen any evidence of the National Drug Master Plan being rolled out in the communities and asked who was supposed to implement it. He asked what was being done to put pressure on authorities to ensure that ports of entry were staffed properly and whether the CDA had looked into more stringent bail conditions for drug dealers. He also asked how much money the three court cases against the rehabilitation centre in the Northern Cape had cost, what had come out of investigations into a death there and whether the Department planned to take the centre to court again to get it closed down.

Adv M Masutha (ANC) asked whether the CDA had any interaction with the Child and Youth Care line function in regards to the Children’s Bill and the Child Justice Bill to see if there was anything in those bills that would enhance the work of the CDA. Problems with drugs and youth were a concern and there did not seem to be much work by the CDA on these Bills. The justice system did not seem able to deal with children who were in trouble with the law because of drugs, and Advocate Masutha asked if there were any strategies being used to get the system to respond to this problem.

The Chairperson said that young people were sometimes used by adults to sell drugs, and asked how the CDA dealt with that.

Ms Weber said that drug addicts were ending up in jail or mental institutions where they did not belong, but appreciated that the budget of the CDA was minimal. She asked if there was information being distributed to schools about drugs and what institutions were available for drug addicts.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that there was not enough activity in schools in terms of the NDMP, and asked if the Department of Education was supposed to take on that responsibility and what support the CDA gave them to ensure that the information was included. She asked for more information on the Gimoja Project, what the provinces were doing to implement it, who the newsletter was intended for, and the length of the term of office for board members. Rehabilitation of street children did not include detoxification and there had been an increase in the use of drugs among the disabled, especially the deaf, because there was no information available to them. She asked what strategies the drug authority used to respond to the realities of disabled groups and rural populations.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked how the provinces were involved in assisting the NDMP and how well local free newspapers were being used in the provinces. As the CDA did not have much funding, these newspapers might be willing to help. Education in schools should be given the highest priority by the CDA.

Ms Dudley asked whether Members could see a copy of the newsletter; whether the NDMP was meant to be implemented through various cluster departments and if there was a specific budget for that; whether the CDA had done any study to determine the budget needed to implement the NDMP; and whether they had made a recommendation on the resources that the CDA still required.

Mr T Godi (PAC) said that the key theme that had been raised was around the resources given to the CDA, and that expectations of the role that they should play in drug abuse was disproportionate to the resources they were given. He asked what the Committee’s response would be in terms of resource allocation to do advocacy work. It may be important for the Portfolio Committee to look at the Act that established the CDA and re-evaluate it in order to empower the CDA to work more effectively on issues such as drug abuse.

Professor Rataemane said that they needed political support for the budget increase. Other countries did not have Master Plans as good as South Africa’s, but theirs were better budgeted and more effective. The CDA was multi-ministerial, so every Ministry was involved and represented. This meant that each Ministry would have its own Mini Drug Master Plan that would abide by the broader framework. The Department of Education had been engaged to look at the Schools Drug Act and had proposed an implementation plan. The CDA would then follow-up to see what they had done and how far they had gone. Most rehabilitation centres were expensive, were often full and there were no treatment centres attached to public facilities. The government should insist that some of these treatment centres be attached to public institutions. The CDA was trying to reach out to rural areas and was asking provincial bodies to come together and develop a strategy to deal with problems. The CDA had never had a clear budget and the Director of the CDA was also managing the line function for Substance Abuse, so the CDA was not able to fund all of the activities it had planned. They had made their needs known to the DSD, but up until now, the Department had not had a separate budget for the CDA. The CDA decided that it would not carry out projects itself, but would guide provinces and District Action Committees on implementation. They would help the Department of Justice to create diversion programmes and develop drug courts for the youth. The key problem was getting the other departments on board.

Ms Nkumalo, from the Substance Abuse line function, said that provincial forums and local drug action committees were funded solely by the provincial Departments of Social Development but they were fighting for other departments to help as it was draining the Department at the provincial level. There had been two court processes in the case of the Northern Cape rehabilitation centre, and the judgement passed was to do with an urgent application. A letter of closure had been sent to the centre, but they applied for a review in the high court and requested that the CDA issue temporary registration, which the CDA refused. The Director-General had appointed a task team to monitor the activities of the rehab centre, but the centre requested an urgent application to stop the task team from visiting and to compel the Department to issue temporary registration. The judge allowed the monitoring team to visit and ruled that the CDA needed to issue temporary registration pending the review case. They were in the process of putting together a report on the task team’s findings and still wanted to close the centre down, but were waiting for the finalisation of the review case. The problem with Gimoja was in the Western Cape, because that was the first province to launch the programme. They had not rolled it out to schools, but on Friday, the Minister was announcing the roll-out to all the provinces. The project was linked with a programme funded by the UNRDC that dealt with education and train-the-trainer programmes. There were only five government treatment facilities and most of them did not admit youth. The Act was a national act, but the process of delegation to the provinces had been started so that provinces could administer the Act and establishing more facilities. Every province had costed the Child Justice Bill, and substance abuse diversion programmes had also been costed.

Professor Rataemane said that the newsletter had been intended to inform NGOs and other organisations about what the CDA was doing, but it had not been distributed broadly because of limited resources. They had considered publishing pamphlets instead to gain wider distribution. The Department of Safety and Security was represented on the CDA in the form of the police services and they had tried to mobilise resources to address drug issues at ports of entry. The UNRDC had helped them with monitoring strategies but human and financial resources were limited.

The Chairperson said that her question about young people being used by adults had not been responded to.

Mr Masutha said that his question about the Children’s Bill had also not been answered and asked if there was anything that needed to be done in that Bill to support the work of the CDA.

Mr Nzimande asked for more clarity on the medium term budget situation of the CDA and the Substance Abuse line function to determine whether there would be an increase beyond this year. The issues at stake for the CDA were multi-sectoral, so the Committee should take its concerns to the social cluster for discussion and to make changes. Mr Nzimande asked for clarity on the process of delegating functions to the provinces and how that would happen.

Mr Waters asked how much the legal battles with the rehab centre had cost and whether there were norms and standards that every drug centre had to adhere to.

Ms Dudley asked what plans there were to establish rehab centres in places where there were none and how the CDA was linked with programmes and budgeting for HIV/AIDS.

Ms M Magazi (ANC) said that the structures that were involved in the CDA, such as Gimoja, were not visible in her constituency and that she needed assistance in contacting them to help with their work.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that advising and monitoring did not cost money and asked whether there was a programme for implementation in rural areas, or for disabled people. She asked whether the CDA could advise or monitor programmes for street children and whether it was including HIV/AIDS in its strategy.

Ms Nkumalo said that they had not done much on the Children’s Bill but had given input on the Child Abuse Strategy and the Youth Strategy. They would look at the Bill to see if there was anything to be done in terms of substance abuse. The budget had escalated by 6% since last year and they had presented special options for funding to Treasury, but had been turned down and would try again next year. The amount expected to be paid by the Department to the rehab centre was difficult to determine, but they would have a figure once they were billed. There were treatment centre standards as well as a new way of registering treatment centres, but problems existed with the delegation of the Act. If done at the provincial level, registration would be more efficient. They hoped the DGs and provinces would approve this delegation by May so that provinces could begin registration and monitoring functions. The Northern Cape wanted to establish a new treatment centre and had submitted a request for additional funds, but the request to the Treasury had not been approved. They already had a budget for the operating costs but needed funding for infrastructure. Gimoja was run by DSD in most provinces, except in the Western Cape, where it was run by the Department of Safety and Security. There was a Disability Directorate to ensure that material was available in Braille. Presently, they did not have any promotional material available for the blind and deaf but were working on it.

Ms Mabuza-Mokoko, from DSD gave the name for the contact person in the Western Cape and said that the term of office for members of the CDA was five years.

Professor Rataemane said that in the first NDMP there had not been much of a link between substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, but it had become an important issue and was included in the revised NDMP. The revised version would also include linkages with domestic violence and mental illness. Young people with substance abuse problems were mostly in jail or in mental institutions because most treatment centres did not accommodate youth under sixteen. In the new master plan, this group had been highlighted as high-risk and in need of special attention. The draft of the revised NDMP had been finalised and would be distributed for comment by 1 April 2005.

The meeting was adjourned.

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