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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 June 2001
SA COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS; JOINT UNIVERSITY COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL WORK: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr E Saloojee
Documents handed out:
Progress made with the establishment of Professional Boards for the Social Service Professions (Appendix 1)
Information document: Establishment of Professional Board for the Social Service Profession
Proposed Budget for one Professional Board
SA Council for Social Service Professions: Newsletter
Transformation of Social Work Education and Training since 1994: Joint Universities Committee For Social Work
In terms of the Social Work Amendment Act the South African Council for Social Service Professions would act as an umbrella body consisting of different professional boards. Professional boards would represent the different social service professions. Members expressed concern that having a different Board for each profession would result in fragmentation and this would be worsened by the lack of human resources in these professions. Members conceded that this may have been a shortcoming in the legislation and suggested that this should be addressed.
The Chair was concerned with the lack of progress the Council has made in establishing the different professions under the umbrella of the Council via the formation of professional boards. He said that the existing legislation should be complied with and suggested that the Council meet the Committee again later this year for a progress report.
South African Council for Social Service Professions
The President of the Council, Mr L Louw, stated that the Council is a regulatory body whose members are registered. This provides the public with an avenue of recourse if faced with unprofessional conduct by any of its members. In terms of the proposed amendment, the Council would serve as an umbrella body consisting of different professional boards representing the different social service professions. He referred the Committee to the document dealing with the composition, number, size and the financial aspects related to the establishment and functioning of professional boards.
Progress made with the establishment of Professional Boards
- Dr J Lombard, Registrar of the Council, read through the relevant document and focused on the following:
- By amending the Social Work Act, the Committee had made provision for the establishment of the Council.
- Members were elected to the Council after which the Minister made further appointments. Although all the elected members were white, the Minister's appointments made the Council more representative.
- Regulations dealing with the procedure for election and the functioning of professional Boards has not yet been finalised.
- The professional Board for social work will invite a student social worker (on a rotational basis) to attend meetings as an observer. A student social worker has to be registered as such and this is possible from his/her second year of study.
- Apart from the social work professional Board, the Council has invited applications from the following occupational groups to establish professional boards: (1) Child and youth care workers, (2) Probation officers, (3) Development workers, (4) Youth workers, (5) Social security officials, (6) Counsellors, (7) Mediators and (8) Pastoral counsellors.
- The problem is that establishing a professional board is very costly. Each
profession must provide its own finance. Costs should include set-up costs and there should be enough money for the Board to be self-sustaining.
The Chair asked whether government funding was possible.
Mr Louw replied that in terms of legislation, Parliament had to see that funds were provided.
The Chair asked whether Parliament had provided funds.
Mr Louw responded that Parliament has not provided funds. He added that R331 000 is required to set up a single professional board.The inclusion of all the professional boards would result in a sizeable structure and this will be very expensive.
Presentation by Council Continued
Mr Louw explained that the Council has also:
- made three new affirmative action appointments. This process will continue.
- established a Standards Generating Body for Social Work.
- developed a website to facilitate electronic communication.
- broken even according to the last audit. This can be attributed to the Committee as it allowed for an increase in fees (in the regulations). The Council recommends that an annual increase be promulgated.
- reviewed the disciplinary process by regulating and streamlining the process. This is however very difficult to budget for as one does not know how many cases the Council will have to deal with.
- established a liaison with the Department.
The Council is concerned with the low morale of professionals. This has to be addressed in order to improve levels of service.
Mr M Masutha (ANC) referred to the Social Work Council that has been established in terms of the old Act. He asked whether any transitional financial arrangements have been made between the old and new bodies.
Mr Louw responded that before the amended Act, other professions were not subject to legislation. This is the first time that the child care staff, probation staff, social security staff and other staff will be regulated. Since the other groupings have been brought in under this one body, legislation provides that parliament has to make provision for its establishment financially. The Council will also receive funds from its annual fees and registration.
Mr Masutha asked if the old Social Work Council will exist alongside the new Council or whether the old Council has been abolished completely.
Mr Louw replied that the new Council will be the only structure with legal persona.
The Chair said that the new Council is essentially a Social Work Council until the other occupations are included in the structure.
Mr Louw explained that it is for this reason that the Council is focusing on the establishment of professional bodies. The difficulty is that the Council does not know how many members constitute these professions. This is because there is no structure outlining the minimum requirements one needs in order to qualify as a member of any of these professions.
Mr Masutha pointed out that the Council is a juristic body. Therefore its funds are not the property of social workers but of the Council itself.
Mr Masutha stated that there is an increasing move toward specialisation. This means that many boards will be needed for each area of specialisation. This would mean more bureaucratic structures whereas more people are needed on the ground. The problem is worsened by the fact that there are limited human resources available in the field of social services. He asked whether the splintering of the profession does not mean a step backwards.
Dr E Jassat (ANC) said that it would be a mistake to fragment the Council because there are so few social workers. He suggested there be one body until the registration has taken place after which the amalgamation of certain occupations should be considered.
Ms R Southgate (ACDP) agreed that amalgamation of appropriate professions was the best option.
Mr Louw said that the decision to amalgamate had been left to the discretion of the groups concerned.
Ms S Kalyan (DP) was concerned that there would be unequal representation for different professions since the professions have varying numbers of members. She insisted that social workers would constitute an unequal proportion of these numbers.
Mr Louw said that this has been considered. He added that there are approximately 10 000 social workers in the country even though some of them are not practising as such.
Ms Kalyan asked what the Council's relationship is to the Health Professions Council of SA.
Dr Lombard said that there is no formal relationship but relations between the bodies are cordial. The bodies often meet to discuss matters of common interest.
Ms Kalyan asked for details on the Council's programme to improve the low morale of social workers.
Mr Louw responded that the Council is examining the status accorded to the profession, remuneration, public profile and the way in which the professional status of the body is disregarded.
Ms Baloyi (ANC) asked whether the scope of 'development workers' has been defined since there are many groups focusing on social development.
Mr Louw replied that the development workers referred to by the members can be distinguished from other social workers. Development workers work face to face with the people at grassroots level. Although they are largely employed by Non-Governmental Organisations, they are sometimes state employed.
Ms M Turok (Council member) commented on how difficult transformation is. This is illustrated in the fact that many social workers still do not believe that it is their place to deal with poverty. She added that this attitude needs to be changed. She also agreed that fragmentation of the Council was not advisable.
Ms Gandhi expressed concern that social workers who continue to operate in the old system will prevent development from taking place.
Mr Louw responded that employers should be invited to the Committee. This is because it is often the employers who are refusing to make the transformation. The social workers can only do what they are permitted to do and there is no pressure on them to do development work.
Ms B Solo (ANC) said that legislation may have to be strengthened if this is the cause of the fragmentation.
Mr Louw said that such amendments will have to ensure that no occupations are left unregulated.
The Chair said that once the Council is established it is supposed to identify occupational groups that will form boards. This was supposed to happen once the Council started functioning. He asked whom the Council expected would perform this function.
Mr Louw answered the Council has played a facilitating role. The Council has held workshops but has been unable to progress because groups have not informed the Council who their members are.
Mr Masutha said agreed that Boards should be established as sub-structures when necessary. However, he said that the focus should be on nurturing the Council and improving its capacity. If Boards are introduced now social workers will dominate the Boards and the Council.
Mr Louw requested the Committee to suggest ways in which the Council can include other occupations so that these professions are not dominated by social workers.
The Chair said that the Council should meet with the Committee to assess the progress made.
Mr Louw said that it is the responsibility of the professions to respond to the Council's requests for information.
The Chair argued that the Council should play a more active role in the process.
Ms Turok suggested that many of the groups may have found the prospect of forming a 'professional' board intimidating because the guidelines provided by the Council are too complicated. She suggested that the Council re-work the document and then re-invite the groups.
Ms N Tsheole (ANC) said that s 14 of the Act states that the Council must make recommendations to the Minister. No Boards can be established in the absence of these recommendations. She suggested that the attendance of the workshops be carefully audited and that follow-ups then take place.
Mr Louw replied that the Council can provide information to the Committee. He again requested the Committee's suggestions to make the process more effective.
Mr Masutha asked if the social work profession still has different competencies under various laws.
Mr Louw said that the definition of a social worker is in the legislation. In addition a child care worker is no longer a social worker with a child care function. Instead, in terms of the new Act s/he is recognised as a child care worker in his/her own right.
A member expressed her disapproval that the newsletter of the Council contained an advertisement recruiting people to work abroad.
Mr Louw said that the Council had invited advertisments to be placed in the newletter to cover the cost of the newsletter. He had allowed the advertisment purely for economic reasons.
The Chair said that it is very important that the Committee receives copies of the newsletters. He stressed that the Committee has a role to play and must be informed.
Mr Louw admitted that this has been neglected but assured the Chair that the Committee would receive these.
Joint University Committee for Social Work
Ms J Tshiwula presented this document to the Committee (see document).
1. Curriculum: Absence of Economics
A member asked why Economics did not appear in the Social Work modules for the BA Social Work Degree attachment. It was felt Social Workers should have knowledge of Economics if they are to empower individuals and communities to spearhead their own development. It was noted that students of social work do study the subject in the other faculties that offer it.
2. Clinical Work Versus Developmental Work
A concern was raised that Social Workers find themselves doing more clinical work than development in the communities. This concern was attributed to the state of affairs in the country at the moment and it was felt that this problem is likely to persist for some time. Universities were strongly urged to maintain the balance between the clinical aspect of social work and the developmental side of it.
3. Shortage of Social Workers
While universities continue to train and educate more and more social workers, it has been observed that only a fraction of graduates end up in the field. The reply given to this concern was that Social Workers get paid very low salaries while they have to pay for student loans and maintain their own upkeep. As a result, most of them end up working in the private sector where salaries are much better. Furthermore, the Department of Social Development was urged to play a more proactive role in employing Social Work graduates.
4. Mismatch between Training/Education and Internship Programmes
Social Work interns often express frustration with the content of their training and the programmes offered whilst doing internships. Increased collaboration was advocated to achieve the fit between theory and practice.
The meeting was adjourned.
PROGRESS MADE BY THE SACSSP WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PROFESSIONAL BOARDS FOR THE SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS, AND OTHER MATTERS OF IMPORTANCE
Submission made by the SA Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP) at a briefing session of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development, held at Parliament on 13 June 2001
Following the amendment of the (then) Social Work Act, 1978, during 1998, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development recently requested the Council to present a submission at a briefing session to inform the Portfolio Committee on the progress made with the establishment of the professional boards.
The Council was represented by its President, Dr Lionel Louw, Mmes Mary Turok and Mara Koornhof (members) as well as the Registrar, Dr Berto Lombard. The Committee was informed on the progress made with the institution of professional boards as well as some of the other important activities of the Council. The Portfolio Committee indicated that it would appreciate it if these discussions could continue at a later stage.
The following progress report was submitted and fruitful discussions took place.
PROFESSIONAL BOARDS FOR THE SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS
The Social Work Amendment Act, 1998 (Act 102 of 1998) came into operation on 1 April 1999. This Act provided for the establishment of the South African Council for Social Service Professions which replaced the South African Interim Council for Social Work.
After the election and appointment of the Council members, the first SA Council for Social Service Professions was launched on 8 June 1999. This occasion was heralded by the then Minister for Welfare and Population Development as the celebration of another milestone in the transformation of the welfare service professions and a significant first step paving the way for the registration of all social service professionals.
The new and representative Council immediately set to work in realising the Council's vision to be a professional council striving for social justice through the promotion and enhancement of developmental social welfare.
One of the first objectives that the new Council started to deal with was the establishment of the
professional boards for the various social service professions in terms of section 14A of the Social
Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978). Therefore two sets of draft regulations respectively providing for the procedure in which members of a professional board should be elected and for the functioning of professional boards, were prepared and furnished to the Department of Social Development for submission to the Minister of Social Development. These draft regulations are still under consideration.
Council is attending to the establishment of a professional board for social work as well as professional boards for the other social service professions. Progress made are respectively as follows:
Professional board for social work
After further consultation with the Council's stakeholders which reaffirmed the need to establish a professional board for social work, the necessary request to the Minister to establish such a board together with a set of draft regulations on its constitution and establishment, were also furnished to the Department for submission to the Minister. This is also under consideration and the draft regulations will be Gazetted with a thirty day period for comments to be submitted.
Council recommended that the professional board for social work be constituted as follows:
- - Four social workers nominated and elected by social workers.
- - Two persons appointed by the Minister from nominations by the community.
- - One social worker elected by social workers from nominations by the social work education and training institutions.
- - One social worker in the employ of a social welfare department in the provincial sphere of government, appointed by the Minister.
- - One person versed in law, appointed by the Minister.
- - One member of the Council. designated by the Council.
- - One social auxiliary worker, nominated and elected by social auxiliary workers.
In addition it is recommended that a student social worker be invited on a rotational basis to attend meetings of the professional board as an observer at the expenses of the Council.
Once the required regulations have been accepted the proces to establish the board can commence.
Professional boards for other social service professions
Simultaneous with the above, attention was also given to the brief to establish professional boards for the other social service professions. The Council developed its Information document for the establishment of a professional board for a social service profession, which includes the Council's criteria, the process to be followed and the application guideline for the establishment of a professional board. Discussions were held and copies of the document were furnished to representatives of the following social service occupational groups with a view to them submitting their applications to establish professional boards, to the Council:
- - Child an youth care workers
- - Probation officers
- - Development workers
- - Youth workers
- - Social security officials
- - Counsellors
- - Mediators
- - Pastoral counsellors
Whilst consultations by representatives of the above groups with their constituencies about the matter continue, applications were so far submitted to the Council by the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) on behalf of child and youth care workers, and the Council of Counsellors in South Africa on behalf of counsellors.
The Council accepted the NACCW's application to establish a professional board for child and youth care. Technical details are being sorted out and the NACCW is presently continuing consultations with its sector regarding the way in which this board should be constituted. Once this has been completed the necessary regulations will be drawn up and submitted to the Minister with the request to establish the board.
Council referred the application to establish a professional board for counsellors to a task team for further investigation. These investigations continue.
With reference to development workers, it should be mentioned that severe problems are being experienced to get the development workers organised into a group to take the possibility of establishing a professional board for this occupation forward. As most persons employed in this
respect are employed by government departments, the Department of Social Development has
been approached for assistance. However, so far the results have not been promising.
The financial aspects involved in establishing a professional board are of vital importance. It is for instance budgeted that the cost to establish a professional board could amount to about R300 000. In terms of Council's accepted principle that the members of each profession must pay the way of their board and that such a board must be financially self-sustainable, it is quit clear that additional funding will have to be obtained to establish the boards. This matter is on the agenda
of the task group consisting of representatives of the Ministry, the Department and the Council, as it was previously indicated that government funding would be made available for this purpose.
The Portfolio Committee's support in this matter would be appreciated.
OTHER ACTIVITIES OF IMPORTANCE
Apart from its activities relating to the establishment of professional boards for the social service professions, the following actions of the new Council should be highlighted:
- The acceptance and implementation of a new organisational structure for the personnel of the Council enabling the Council to meet the requirements of the Employment Equity Act, 1998, within the prescribed time limitation. In order to change the demographic profile of the Council, the three new appointments made, which were on three different levels within the organisation, including management level, were all three affirmative appointments. This process will continue when resignments and retirements occur. The Employment Equity Report required in terms of the above mentioned Act was also submitted to the Department of Labour on the date required.
- Facilitating the establishment of the Standard Generating Body (SGB) for Social Work in terms of the National Qualification Framework and the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995. With reference to the issue of quality assurance, the SACSSP is attending to the manner in which it's obligations as an ETQA should be met. In addition Council is also involved in and represented on the various SAQA sub-structures and activities.
- New regulations for the registration of social workers in terms of the new modular system presently introduced at most educational institutions, have been submitted to the Department. Provision is made for student social workers who completed their studies in terms of the modular system to register as social workers if at least fifty percent of the total minimum content of the programmes for their qualifications include Social Work modules. Once the SGB for Social Work has completed its task, these regulations will be further updated.
- In order to obtain a clear profile of the members of its constituency, to obtain data on matters such as their work related needs and the conditions under which they practise and to ensure that the Council is in a position to take well-informed policy resolutions on matters which may affect the persons registered with it, the Council conducted a research project. Council is presently dealing with the utilisation of the information obtained.
- The Council became aware that serious problems were being experienced with the content of the Code of Remuneration (CORE) for the Occupational Category: Social Services and Support Personnel, developed by the Department of Public Service and Administration. Consequently the Council became involved in collaboration with the Government Departments concerned and the document was revised.
- Various task teams are attending to the investigation of a number of applications to establish certain specialities and specific modes of intervention in social work in terms of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978.
- Council is attending to formulating a new disciplinary policy and procedure by revising the current Rules relating to unprofessional or improper conduct, the Ethical Code, and the procedures followed when a complaint is lodged with the Council. This new policy and procedure will in due course be statutorily entrenched in the form of regulations to the Act.
- After it's recent financial audit, the Council received a clean financial bill of health from it's auditors, after having had to work on a deficit income for the past two years. The improvement was due to the substantial increase made last year, in the
tariff for annual fees payable to the Council. These annual fees comprise Council's main source of income and to prevent a similar problem from reoccurring, Council resolved that in future smaller increases would be made on a regular basis.
- In the interests of effective communication with its stakeholders and roleplayers, as well as transparency and empowerment, the Council redesigned the format and contents of its Newsletter. This the new "face" of the Council already had the positive effect of the constituency paying more attention to it's contents, especially to the latest developments at the Council, and by responding in contacting the
Council about matters pertaining to their professional needs.
Attendance to these and other matters continue as the Council's day to day business.
It is quite clear that the new South African Council for Social Service Professions already has, in the relatively short period of its existence made significant progress in executing its brief in terms of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978), as amended
The interest of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, an important roleplayer of the Council, in the progress made by the new Council is highly appreciated.
DR J LOMBARD