Social Work Registration Needs To Finally Happen

Bills, In Parliament, Speeches

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 27 October 2021.)

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (21:32): I rise today to speak on the Social Workers Registration Bill. As the Hon. Tammy Franks has already noted, this bill has been a long time coming. For close to two decades, I am advised, social workers have been advocating for professional recognition and registration. Our former colleague, the Hon. Jack Snelling in the other place, worked hard to advocate for the establishment of a national model for many years but was unfortunately unsuccessful during his tenure as health minister.

Social workers are an important part of a holistic health system. They work alongside doctors, nurses, psychologists and other specialists to support and achieve the best outcomes for patients and their carers and families. Of course, outside of health care, they also play a vital role in ensuring the wellbeing of South Australians.

It is time that, like the professions they work alongside, social workers have their profession recognised and registered. Of course, like the professions I have mentioned, a national model of registration through a body such as AHPRA would be the most ideal outcome. But even after the 20-plus years of advocacy for professional social workers, we are still waiting for a national register to be adopted. So it is now up to us at a state level to pass this legislation as the next best thing. It is time for South Australia to lead the way.

The recommendations from the joint committee of this parliament that heard evidence advise that this is the next best thing. We have consulted with the Australian Association of Social Workers and they are looking forward to this legislation to lead the way and be the first domino to fall, as it were, in what they hope will be similar legislation adopted in other jurisdictions.

But if we are being honest, we knew that this was the next best option before the joint committee was even established. We knew this when the current government made election commitments for social workers registration before the last election and yet, although the AASW has been advocating for two decades, and the current government made an election commitment in 2017 and a joint committee was formed in 2018 and the report of that committee had bipartisan support in 2020, and the shadow minister for child protection had a draft of this bill to move in government time in February 2021, despite all that, we find ourselves here on the final scheduled sitting day of the year, after the dinner break, in private members’ time, moving a bill that could have been progressed long ago.

Yet again, it is left to the crossbench or to the opposition to drag the government kicking and screaming to pass legislation that was one of their own election commitments. But even worse, we now have to debate what some have called a total word salad of amendments, which have been filed at the eleventh hour—or, more accurately, the eleventh hour and 55th minute.

The minister filed 25 amendments on I think Monday and a further 17 this afternoon. Given this legislation was an election commitment of the Marshall Liberal government, we cannot assume that these last-minute amendments are some kind of Machiavellian attempt to delay this bill. We have talked about Machiavelli a lot tonight in this chamber.

We cannot make that assumption. We can only assume that it must be incompetence on behalf of the minister. Or, considering the commitment to this legislation has mysteriously disappeared from the government’s original election commitments published on their website, perhaps these last-minute amendments are in fact an attempt to delay this bill.

Either way, it is not respectful to social workers in this state. The minister should be embarrassed at the way they are being treated. Even with the department at her disposal and this legislation being introduced by the Hon. Tammy Franks almost three weeks ago, the minister has filed more than 30 amendments at the last minute. Labor looks forward to debating these amendments and the successful passage of this bill.

The Hon. C. BONAROS (21:36): I rise on behalf of SA-Best to speak in support of the Social Workers Registration Bill 2021. We all acknowledge that this is a well overdue piece of legislation. Despite the commitments this government gave while in opposition, which included an election promise, it has dragged its feet. Once again, the crossbench is here to do the heavy lifting and I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for all her work on this issue and for not letting this one slide.

Since the original bill was introduced, further and extensive consultation has taken place on the bill. The joint committee report was tabled some time ago now. There has been ample opportunity for the government to shake off its apathy and fulfil its commitments. I think there is consensus that a national scheme would be ideal and may well come in the future, but we cannot and do not need to wait any longer for that.

Social work is a fundamentally important profession, providing support and services to a very vulnerable cohort of people. The many fields of social work practice include mental health, child protection, disability, education, family and sexual violence, family support, aged care, substance abuse, and housing. The capacity for serious harm by a few bad eggs is compounded by the very nature and life circumstances of their clients.

Many clients, children in out-of-home care included, cannot speak for themselves and so I think, as a result of this bill, we are here to speak for them. There have been many calls for the registration of social workers and everything that comes with it for over 20 years now. A majority of the 3,000 or so social workers in South Australia are university qualified, yet some have no qualifications at all. We urgently need a framework for mandatory registration, binding professional standards and consequences for breaches, among other things.

It has been recommended time and time again, including in the report of the review of child protection in South Australia, chaired by Robyn Layton QC; in the Mullighan report on the Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry; and by the former state Coroner, Mark Johns, following the inquest into the death of Chloe Valentine.

About half of Australia’s social workers are members of the Australian Association of Social Workers, which has been extensively consulted over this bill. Its members are required to adhere to a code of ethics and professional standards, but in reality membership of a professional association is voluntary and anyone can call themselves a social worker, particularly in the private sector.

Australia is out of step with international standards and we should be ashamed of that. The safety and wellbeing of people who rely social worker support and counselling are at risk and remain at risk for as long as this bill sits before this chamber. The government has come very late to the table and filed amendments earlier this week, after some last-minute consultation with the Department for Child Protection—on Friday, I believe it was.

This is not a new bill. As I said, there has been ample opportunity to consult. The minister herself was involved in the inquiry process, so if anybody had opportunity for input into the model that we are looking at it is the minister herself.

On this side of the bench, we intend to follow the lead of the mover of the bill as to the appropriateness of those amendments based on the discussions that have taken place with stakeholders and the advice that has been received back from those stakeholders. I understand some are minor and acceptable and some from far left field.

I will take with a grain of salt the advice, with respect, from the Department for Child Protection on the appropriateness or otherwise of or the requirement for this bill. I am certainly going to take the word of the Mullighan report, the review of child protection in South Australia, and the former Coroner who has inquired into so many of the failures of that very same department which is now providing advice to the government on the appropriateness of this bill, before I take the advice from the Department for Child Protection.

With those words, we once again commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for her hard work on this very important issue and look forward to South Australia leading the way in the passing of this bill.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (21:41): I rise to place some remarks on the record in relation to this bill. Social workers are one of the largest professional groups in Australia, responsible for protecting and supporting the wellbeing of some of our community’s most vulnerable people. This is why the government committed to consider options for a registration scheme for social workers and to advocate for social workers to be included under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

The Hon. Tammy Franks introduced the Social Workers Registration Bill 2018, which was referred to a joint committee process, as other speakers have referred to. Consistent with the government’s election commitment, the preferred approach that was advocated for by a number of stakeholders in the joint committee process is a national system implemented under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The government and other stakeholders continue to advocate for a national scheme, which, of course, requires the agreement of states and territories. An object of any state-based legislation in this context is to support as far as possible a smooth transition to a national scheme once agreement is secured.

The joint committee handed down its report on 3 December 2020, and it was tabled in parliament on the same day and attached a revised draft bill. The Hon. Ms Franks has spoken on the report in this house on 17 March 2021, and I was pleased on that occasion to offer the government’s support for the report findings and the draft legislation. The government remains committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders to establish the scheme.

The amendments introduced by the government have two primary goals. These amendments seek to improve the state’s ability to transition while recognising that participation in a national scheme, if agreed, will invariably require further changes to the SA legislative framework and the scheme at a future point in time and to make minor amendments to discrete parts to reduce ambiguity, make it more consistent with other regulatory schemes or make more efficient the administration of the act and the implementation of the scheme.

Specifically, the suite of proposed amendments relates to limitation in board member terms, allowing for additional functions of the board, protecting the use of the title ‘social worker’, delegations and subcommittees of the board and transitional provisions. These amendments have been finalised in discussion with the Australian Association of Social Workers, whose role in supporting the social work profession in Australia remains invaluable, and we thank the AASW for their willingness to support us in this process.

These amendments will bring the bill into closer alignment with the national model while recognising the support for a state-based scheme to be implemented until a national model can be agreed. Importantly, this brings us one step closer to providing appropriate recognition, regulation and support to the social work profession. I commend the persistence and the hard work of the Hon. Tammy Franks in proposing this legislation.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (21:44): I would like to thank all the members who have made a contribution to this bill not just today but the first time round back in 2018 and thank you to all those who were on the joint committee with me as we worked together to come up with the best model that we could for the registration of social workers in South Australia, which is the bill before us now today. I would reflect again on the length of time it has taken us to get here—several years—and here we are again still waiting for action but now considering this particular legislation that came from that joint committee process.

I would also like to reflect on the words of the now Minister for Child Protection, the member for Adelaide, Rachel Sanderson, back in 2016 when she was the shadow minister, recognising the importance and the then urgency of the registration of social workers in South Australia. I quote her:

The longer this important reform is delayed, the greater the risk to vulnerable children in South Australia’s completely dysfunctional and chaotic child protection system.

The now minister then went on to say:

If a Weatherill government again fails to advance this issue, I propose to draft a bill providing for the registration and regulation of social workers within South Australia.

That is the member for Adelaide in 2016. They are her words from her press release. I remind members that these things are kept by the library, so even if you take them off the website we can actually track them.

Minister Sanderson has now been in government since the beginning of 2018, yet we have not seen her take active steps to pursue this legislation, despite being on that joint committee that inquired into this bill, the bill that I brought to the parliament back in 2018, despite having sat in the room and endorsed the recommendations that the legislation before us today be passed with some urgency.

I have to say that, despite her having said in 2016 that it would be amongst her ‘highest priorities’, to quote her, we are still waiting. Indeed, we are waiting for this promise of the then Marshall opposition to be delivered. Yes, there was reference to a national scheme, but I will read word for word the ‘Strong Plan for Real Change’ Marshall opposition promise for registration of South Australian social workers, on page 3, which is the first page with actual text on it, ‘What we will do’. It states:

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal government will ensure a system of registration for social workers is introduced. This could involve the inclusion of social workers under the national registration accreditation scheme, the government scheme overseeing the regulation of qualification standards and practices for health practitioners in Australia. A state Liberal government will draft legislation to require the registration of social workers in South Australia to lobby to have social workers included under the national registration accreditation scheme with oversight from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Indeed, it goes on to wax lyrical about how great it is to have the registration of social workers and I fully agree with that and I fully agree with the then Marshall opposition election promise to register social workers in South Australia. We would all prefer a national system. We are well into two decades of campaigning for a national system. Unless a jurisdiction leads, this may never happen.

I have to say that it is really disappointing to be here having to put this up as a private member’s piece of legislation. Post acceptance of the report, I had been informed that the Marshall government and, I believed, Minister Sanderson would be bringing forth a piece of legislation. I got tired of waiting for that to happen, and as the sitting weeks grew fewer and fewer, I introduced the legislation that we believed had been agreed to be introduced to this place.

Here we are, in what is the last non-optional sitting week of the year, although we now know that we will likely be sitting at least the next optional sitting week, and we are finally seeing that Marshall opposition 2016 election pledge brought into practice.

In 2016, the minister also said, ‘Multiple different groups have lobbied for this,’ and, ‘It shouldn’t take the death of a child to get action.’ I am astounded that in the lead-up to the last state election, the member for Adelaide was so strong and certain about this reform yet has so utterly failed to deliver. Perhaps the minister has girlbossed too close to the sun in making all of those promises and pronouncements.

Maybe things got too hard, too complicated, or maybe the Liberal Party simply did not wish to pursue this legislation anymore. Certainly, any hint of their past promises on the registration of social workers has been currently cleared from the websites. Too bad they have the Wayback Machine, and I have an excellent staffer in Malwina Wyra, who has found those promises, but, as I say, the library keeps all of the press releases.

This is a devastating broken promise to the South Australian community. It is deeply disappointing that after having a clear blueprint for legislation and a way forward the minister still has failed to act. While I am pleased that we have the government’s support today, I would hope that they are not going to break yet another promise. I do want to note the clear disappointment, felt not just by the Greens but by so many, that the government promised that they would not act this way when they were in government.

I would also like to put on record my disappointment, and frankly disbelief, that the government has put forward amendments to this bill and only circulated them for the first time on Monday afternoon. It was not the government that told the Australian Association of Social Workers about their amendments; it was the Greens, and it was on the person’s day off, on a Monday. These amendments were not consulted on. There is in fact one key stakeholder and they had not gone to that stakeholder first. It is not that hard.

Also, nor were they asked for. I will note that even the AASW had no idea that these amendments were forthcoming, or indeed about to be lodged on this parliament, even though they finally met with the minister, after months of requests, just two weeks ago. The minister, who has asked the Minister for Human Services to move on her behalf these amendments to this bill, was charged and understood by the committee to be the one who would lead progress of this bill through the parliament.

She was also a member of the joint committee into the original version of this bill. She worked with myself and all the other members of that joint house committee on the recommendations that informed it, and she had almost two years in those committee meetings, hearing evidence, deliberating, in which to raise any further amendments, and indeed another year since the committee reported with the amendments to consult on them appropriately. This has not been done.

The other bizarre thing with these amendments is that when I met with the minister and her office, there were lots of references, in explaining these amendments, to the ‘national scheme’ or ‘bringing the bill into line with the national scheme’. There is no national scheme, and I think everyone has reflected on that during this debate. We would love there to be a national scheme, but there is not and so South Australia is, of course, striking out on its own.

I am not sure why we are chopping and changing parts of the bill to fit with a scheme that does not exist. Certainly, at another briefing we were told that this was to make the bill more consistent with the way federal legislation is written, which still makes no sense, because some of these amendments are not in keeping with the recommendations of the joint committee, nor are they in keeping with the intent of the bill. I am baffled that the minister would suggest amendments that go against the main purpose of the bill, such as the original amendments for limited registration.

Now I note that it appears, although it is not entirely clear, that the government will not be going ahead with some of their first set of amendments, which were only of course mooted for the first time on Monday, but I think it is important to note those amendments either way. The committee report was quite clear on that matter. I am beginning to wonder if the minister even read the report she endorsed. Perhaps this is why it is typically considered bad practice to cobble together eight pages of amendments just two days before a matter is voted on. Perhaps this is why there was a joint committee process that stretched over some two years to ensure the changes made to the original bill back in 2018 were well thought through and consulted on appropriately.

To add to how ridiculous this entire experience has been, the minister has now tabled new amendments at 4.44pm today. I will note that the members in this place were not actually contacted about these amendments until 5.54pm today, when we received an email. My office only got a call about them at 6.30pm. This is a joke. You cannot work on a serious piece of legislation in this manner.

I note that while the minister’s adviser has noted in her email to members that the Australian Association of Social Workers is fine with these amendments that is not entirely accurate. It is my understanding that, under pressure and with limited time and understanding, the AASW ceded some points in discussions because they were worried about this bill passing.

I note that my information is that the AASW was completely happy with this bill without amendment. I note that that was particularly because this version of the bill was the one that was properly consulted and considered. I am deeply concerned to learn that the minister has only instructed for consideration to be put together towards the amendments that the government will be putting to the council tonight on Thursday or Friday last week. It seems the minister did not think of this legislation and prioritise it prior to that time.

It is deeply disappointing that we find ourselves here. It is now after 9.30 on a Wednesday night, with two sets of government amendments to a bill they have had three years to bring forth themselves, that they have had for over a year a report that was well consulted on to take leadership on, yet here we are with these two sets of amendments. I will have more to say on some of those amendments in committee. I have to say that the vast majority of the very first set are unworkable. We can work with some of the second set, but it is far from what everyone would prefer.

We know that this legislation has had broad support from all parties in this parliament. We know that this legislation is necessary. We also know that leadership in this area will be the only thing that breaks the nexus and gets us to that national scheme that we all want so much. We have known for a very long time that reform is necessary. That 2017 speech in which the member for Adelaide noted that the PSA first made the request for the registration of social workers in 1988—she has known this for some time as well. The AASW, the Australian Association of Social Workers, have been fighting and waiting for this reform for decades.

I look forward to the speedy passage of this bill here, and hopefully soon through the other place as well, where I trust, given that it has not been given a government bill, at least the government will give it government time to get it done.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage

In committee.

Clause 1.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Perhaps, for the benefit of members, I could clarify that I filed two sets of amendments. The first set we will not be proceeding with. I outlined in my second reading speech what was the general rationale for a number of those. I think we are all in furious agreement that a national scheme would be ideal. The logical home for that, were that to proceed, would be AHPRA. As part of the work the government has done in terms of examining this bill from an across-government perspective, some of those amendments came from that. In particular, advice from SA Health was that the dates should be changed from January to July, which is probably more consistent with some of those practices.

There was also, in terms of the drafting, things borrowed from other state legislation, such as the Teachers Registration Board. As we go through all of those, I will provide a rationale for each of those amendments, but advise that, from my point of view, I will not be moving any of set 1, they will all be set 2. With set 2, following consultation with the Australian Association of Social Workers, work has been done to try to align better with what was their position, so some of those amendments in set 1 have been dropped entirely, and others modified to try to meet their position more closely.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I would like to place on the record on behalf of the opposition that with these amendments, which were received only a few hours ago, we will have a position since we need to vote on them tonight, but we do reserve the right to examine the amendments further between the houses given that there has been such a short time to consider them.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I thank the minister for clarifying which set of amendments we would be debating. In the second set of amendments, which were lodged just before the dinner break this evening, there are at least 12 that we will be supporting, although there are quite a few that we will not be.

Clause passed.

Clauses 2 to 6 passed.

Clause 7.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 1 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 6, line 21 [clause 7(1)]—After ‘reappointment’ insert:

(however a member cannot hold office for terms that exceed 7 years in total).

This amendment provides a limitation on the length of board membership by an individual. This approach is consistent with a number of boards in the national scheme. This particular amendment proposes a seven-year limitation on the length of board membership, and is a generally well-accepted practice for boards to support diversity of membership over time. This particular approach is consistent with the Teachers Registration Board.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this amendment.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 8 and 9 passed.

Clause 10.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 2 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 7, after line 18 [clause 10(1)]—Insert:

(fa) to establish processes for handling complaints relating to the practice of social work;

I advise the chamber that this amendment and the subsequent amendment are a pair, if you like. These amendments propose two new functions for the board, and this amendment has been proposed to support alignment to the national scheme under which boards are generally provided a function to establish a process to handle complaints. It is otherwise considered a core function of a professional registration board. Both new functions have been included to support alignment with the national law, and this particular amendment provides that board functions will establish a process to handle complaints.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this amendment, which inserts into that part ‘to establish processes for handling complaints relating to the practice of social work’, although I note we will not be supporting the third amendment, which is to insert ‘to provide advice to the Minister in relation to the profession of social work’.

Amendment carried.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 3 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 7, after line 19 [clause 10(1)]—Insert:

(ga) to provide advice the Minister in relation to the profession of social work;

This amendment provides that a function of the board is to provide advice to the relevant minister. Again, there is a connection to the national law, which we thought would be a useful alignment.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be opposing this, although, should the minister actually seek to have information about the registration of social workers in the future, we would prefer that she actually go first to the AASW for a change. However, I do not think that they need to be required to provide her advice in this particular piece of legislation.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Could the minister outline in regard to this amendment how consistent or otherwise it is with other registration boards, such as the Teachers Registration Board?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I will in a moment seek advice in relation to the Teachers Registration Board, but the advice I have is that there is a national law reference that aligns with this one. There is a reference to a section of the national law. I will just double-check the teachers registration to see if there is some consistency with that as well.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Chair, while the minister is checking that, I note that my advice from my very meagre staff is that it is not consistent with the Teachers Registration Board rules.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In terms of the reference to the national law—and I am referring to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act, which is how the instrument is applied in South Australia—it is section 35(1)(o) and (p). Paragraph (o) refers to giving ‘advice to the Ministerial Council on issues relating to the national registration and accreditation scheme for the health profession’.

Because that does not exist—there is no ministerial council for social workers—this replicates that there should be advice provided. In the absence of having a ministerial council, that is the reason for the reference to the minister. The advice is that there is not a specific reference to teachers registration legislation.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Just for the record, the opposition will be opposing this amendment.

Amendment negatived; clause as amended passed.

New clauses 10A and 10B.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 4 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 7, after line 37—Insert:


(1) The Board may delegate a function or power under this Act (other than a prescribed function or power)—

(a) to a member of the Board; or

(b) to a committee established by the Board; or

(c) to a specified body or person (including a person for the time being holding or acting in a specified office or position).

(2) A delegation under this section—

(a) must be by instrument in writing; and

(b) may be absolute or conditional; and

(c) does not derogate from the ability of the Board to act in any matter; and

(d) is revocable at will.

(3) A function or power delegated under this section may, if the instrument of delegation so provides, be further delegated.


(1) The Board may establish committees—

(a) to advise the Board; or

(b) to carry out functions on behalf of the Board.

(2) The membership of a committee will be determined by the Board and include at least 1 member of the Board.

(3) The Board will determine who will be the presiding member of a committee.

(4) The procedures to be observed in relation to the conduct of the business of a committee will be—

(a) as determined by the Board; and

(b) insofar as a procedure is not determined under paragraph (a)—as determined by the committee.

This amendment is proposed to support alignment to the national law by providing that the board may delegate functions and establish committees. This has been included, accepting the potential need for a board to engage external advice or expertise to support it in its role or on particular topics it is considering that require subject expertise.

Based on advice from the AASW, the amendment provides that all subcommittees will be determined by the board and include at least one member of the board. This aligns more closely with the national law capacity of delegations.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be opposing this amendment. The Governor should not have the ability to prescribe what a social work service is or detailing what the scope of practice is. That simply makes no sense. Social work is an internationally recognised profession, being a registered profession in nearly every English-speaking country and, as such, has internationally agreed definitions and functions ascribed by the International Federation of Social Work.

South Australia and South Australian social workers would risk being excluded from being defined as social workers in accord with the world’s IFSW definition and prescribed functions. Until the social work profession falls under the national registration scheme, AHPRA, umbrella of regulation the AASW, as a member of the IFSW, should remain as a body to prescribe social work services and scopes of practice.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Sorry, I apologise; it is our fault, the potential confusion. I think the honourable member may be referring to the old amendment No. 4 from set 1. This is amendment No. 4 from set 2, which is actually about delegation of board functions, not the prescription, if you like, of what social work is and scopes of practice.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Just for clarity, the minister is not moving an amendment that refers to scopes of practice or tries to give that framework; is that correct?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes, that is correct. That was contained in set 1, and I am not proposing to move any of those.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Chair, the minister is quite right: the notes here are from the previous set of amendments. However, we still oppose this.

New clauses negatived.

Clauses 11 to 24 passed.

Clause 25.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 5 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 13, lines 27 and 28 [clause 25(2)(a)]—Delete paragraph (a)

This amendment is to remedy the potential confusion about when an applicant is to provide a police check. We believe there is an unintended consequence of the drafting in the existing bill which suggests that an applicant must produce a police check for registration, whereas a later section requires an applicant to pay the board for the conduct of a criminal check, rather than a police check. Those two appear incompatible. Those relevant clauses are 25(2)(c) and 25(2)(a). The latter refers to the cost to the board for processing that application.

Through these amendments, which have been filed, we intend to remove any ambiguity and minimise duplicating criminal record requirements for applicants, that is, not requiring applicants to produce multiple criminal record checks where most schemes would select one. If you talk about disability, for instance, there is NDIS worker screening, and the logical one for this would be the working with children check.

We believe that it would be an unnecessary burden on the social work profession and more than likely is one that is unintended. The amendments do not remove the requirement for an applicant to produce a criminal history report and working with children check as part of the application.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: My advice, via the Australian Association of Social Workers, is that this is not an unintended amendment. Indeed, it was well consulted on and is meant to have the two different types of criminal and police checks. Perhaps this can be sorted out between the houses because, while the government has made an assumption that it is a drafting error, my understanding is that both were desired in the scheme by the AASW, and certainly they do not want to be lumbered with the bill for doing them either.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I indicate that the opposition will also be opposing this on the same grounds. Our understanding is that both a police check and a criminal record check are desired and, if there is a misunderstanding, that can be sorted out between the houses.

Amendment negatived.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 6 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 14, lines 9 to 11 [clause 25(3)]—Delete subclause (3)

I referred to this amendment at clause 1, which was advice which came particularly from SA Health which clearly deals with a range of AHPRA-type issues and their general advice is that 31 January can be a problematic time for applications for renewal and the logical date would be 30 June. In particular, the end of January can be problematic because it coincides with end of school holidays and all those sorts of busy times.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this amendment and the minister will be pleased to hear that this page is a sea of green of support.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The opposition will also be supporting this amendment.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 26 to 28 passed.

Clause 29.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 7 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 16, line 7 [clause 29(1)(a)]—Delete ‘31 January’ and substitute ‘30 June’

I have given the explanation for this amendment just a little while ago.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this amendment which, I assume, is now the one that changes the 31 January and instead substitutes 30 June.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: We will be supporting this amendment.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clause 30.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 8 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 16, line 15 [clause 30(1)]—After ‘provide’ insert ‘, within a specified period,’

This amendment seeks to establish a time frame for the board to provide a response. Currently, the board retains discretion as to a time period which could be, potentially, quite open ended. The context of this is that the board can require a social worker and other parties to provide information on particular subjects, so this amendment is intended to provide some procedural clarity for the board and members of the scheme.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I indicate the Greens will be supporting this amendment. I do have all of the others in my notes as being supported unless there are, of course, any consequential ones that have not made their way to the table.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I have a question for the minister. Who will determine what that specified period is?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: My understanding of that is that the board would need to set some time frames.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Chair, I can assist with the answer to that: it would be the board or the registrar.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I can indicate the opposition will be supporting this amendment.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 31 to 35 passed.

New clause 35A.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 9 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 20, after line 5—Insert:

35A—Restriction on use of title

(1) A person must not knowingly or recklessly take or use the title ‘social worker’ in a way that could be reasonably expected to induce a belief the person is a registered social worker, unless the person is in fact a registered social worker.

Maximum penalty:

(a) in the case of a natural person—$60 000 or 3 years imprisonment or both; or

(b) in the case of a body corporate—$120 000.

(2) A person must not knowingly or recklessly take or use the title ‘social worker’ in relation to another person in a way that could be reasonably expected to induce a belief the second person is a registered social worker, unless the person is in fact a registered social worker.

Maximum penalty:

(a) in the case of a natural person—$60 000 or 3 years imprisonment or both; or

(b) in the case of a body corporate—$120 000.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) apply whether or not the title is taken or used with or without any other words and whether in English or any other language.

This is one of several amendments that has been proposed with the purpose of aligning to the national scheme, which provides restrictions on the use of a title to provide for title protection. The sections are consistent with both the national law and with stakeholder advocacy, we believe, noting a number of stakeholders were explicit about the goal of title protection being a central objective of the scheme which has been committed to. The penalties are consistent with the national law and the provisions to embed title protection, it is our understanding, are supported by AASW.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this amendment.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The opposition will be supporting this amendment.

New clause inserted.

Clauses 36 to 42 passed.

Clause 43.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 10 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 22, after line 15 [clause 43(1)]—Insert:


(e) any other person who satisfies the Board that they have a sufficient interest in the matter.

This amendment seeks to ensure that any person with sufficient interest in a matter may make a complaint in addition to those which are already listed. We believe the current bill may unintentionally preclude the making of a complaint by a person with an interest or who is unaware of misconduct. That might include, for instance, somebody who is a work colleague. We think that may potentially be excluded from the current provisions. The amendment adds in a new class of potential complainants to be ‘any other person who satisfies the Board that they have a sufficient interest in the matter’.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this amendment.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The opposition will also be supporting this amendment.

Amendment carried.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 11 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 22, line 18 [clause 43(2)(a)]—Delete ‘aggrieved person’ and substitute ‘complainant’

Amendment No 12 [ HumanServ–2]—

Page 22, line 19 [clause 43(2)(b)]—Delete ‘aggrieved person’ and substitute ‘complainant’

Amendment No 13 [ HumanServ–2]—

Page 22, line 22 [clause 43(2)(c)]—Delete ‘aggrieved person’ and substitute ‘complainant’

Amendment No 14 [ HumanServ–2]—

Page 22, line 24 [clause 43(2)(d)]—Delete ‘aggrieved person’ and substitute ‘complainant’

I indicate for the committee that amendments Nos 11 to 15 are consequential, for the benefit of the debate. This amendment contemplates that the complainant may not always be the aggrieved person. For instance, it might be a service provider who is complaining against a social worker on behalf of a client. By substituting ‘aggrieved person’ with ‘complainant’ the legislation will recognise that the complainant may not always be the aggrieved person.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens will be supporting this and the other consequential amendments.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The opposition supports this amendment and the other consequential amendments.

Amendments carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 44 to 50 passed.

Clause 51.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 15 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 27, line 21 [clause 51(6)]—Delete ‘A person who’ and substitute:

The complainant, and any other person who

The amendment is consequential.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 52 to 58 passed.

Clause 59.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 16 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 29, lines 15 to 22—Delete clause 59 and substitute:

59—Protections, privileges and immunities

(1) Nothing in this Act affects any rule or principle of law relating to—

(a) legal professional privilege; or

(b) ‘without prejudice’ privilege; or

(c) public interest immunity.

(2) A person is excused from answering a question or producing a document or other material in connection with an inquiry or proceedings under this Act if the person could not be compelled to answer the question or produce the document or material in proceedings in the Supreme Court.

(3) A person who provides information or a document under this Act to the Board or the Registrar has the same protection, privileges and immunities as a witness in proceedings before the Supreme Court.

(4) A person who does anything in accordance with this Act, or as required or authorised by or under this Act, cannot by so doing be held to have breached any code of professional etiquette or ethics, or to have departed from any acceptable form of professional conduct.

The amendment provides what we believe are standard protections, privileges and immunities for the board—people who provide evidence and so forth. There are not identical provisions in the national law, but the amendment is reasonably consistent with those provisions.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Could the minister indicate where this specific wording came from?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Can I also add something in relation to a question that the honourable member asked about a previous amendment, amendment No. 3. I am advised that there is some reference to functions of the Teachers Registration Board in the teachers registration legislation, which is clause 6F, so just to cover that issue off.

In relation to this particular amendment, it was something which the minister’s office requested parliamentary counsel to address so, effectively, the particular clause was drafted by parliamentary counsel.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The minister referred to the fact that it was not identical to some wording in a national framework. Why was it considered not appropriate to use that wording that she referred to?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If we wanted to get to that level of detail I think we would need to check with parliamentary counsel, because the amendment is—I hate using double negatives—not inconsistent with the national law. The request was made to parliamentary counsel to address this particular issue and they drafted that in accordance with their good understanding of legislation and precedents and whatever else is available across all the schemes that exist in our statutes.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens are supporting all of the amendments to come. Unless there is one that pops out that was not in the table, we are supporting the government’s amendment here.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The opposition is supporting this amendment.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Clauses 60 to 64 passed.

Clause 65.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

Amendment No 17 [HumanServ–2]—

Page 31, after line 8 [clause 65(2)]—Insert:

(da) make provisions of a transitional or savings nature; and

This amendment is to provide for transitional provisions to be made by regulation. This will ensure that upon commencement of the act there is time allowed for the registration of social workers without penalties while people learn about the new system and begin the registration process, which will also have the effect of minimising workforce impacts where social workers cannot work until registered. This is consistent with what took place in New Zealand, which incorporated a transitional period to ensure that everybody had time to prepare for the new scheme.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Greens support this amendment.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I note the opposition will support this amendment.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Remaining clause (66) and title passed.

Bill reported with amendment.

Bill recommitted.

Clause 25.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I move:

That subclause (3) previously deleted be reinserted in the clause.

Amendment carried; clause as further amended passed.

Bill reported with amendment.

Third Reading

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (22:38): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.