The Maltese Association for Social Workers (MASW) today welcomed the Government’s initiative to amend the Social Work Act which was enacted in the Laws of Malta in 2003. Currently, several amendments to the Social Work Act are being debated in parliament, which has reached its second stage of reading.
The association however appealed to the government to reconsider one of its proposed amendments in relation to the social work warranting process: that social workers are to have their first two years of their practice in a government social work agency. The autonomy of the social work profession is being seriously jeopardised as this would not only limit the choices of the individual social worker, but would also negatively impact non-governmental entities.
Through this proposed amendment, NGOs which are giving their services in various specialised areas in the community will be faced with even greater difficulties than they already face to employ social workers, thus impacting their ability to provide essential services to their service users.
This may also push NGOs towards employing non-professional staff or other graduates to carry out social work, thus diminishing the quality of the social work service provided to service users.
The MASW believes in the value of the experience of warranted social workers andm also believes that unwarranted social workers need to be provided with an optimal level of experience in order to receive their warrant, irrespective of where such experience is gained. The MASW therefore sustains that it is not this amendment to legislation that will support better social work services for the service user, but rather an improved level of standards perpetuated through the professional board and the department of social welfare standards.
The MASW considers all forms of employment in social work as valid avenues of practice to pursue one’s warrant so long as the standard of social work practice and supervision is of the highest level possible. The proposed amendment is therefore considered as a lack of faith and trust in the work that NGOs perform. Nevertheless, the MASW is appealing to the government to stop the current debate in parliament to amend the Social Work Act until a consensus with the same association and the social workers it represents is reached, so as to safeguard the interests of the profession and its service users.
The MASW will endeavour to remain open to discussing with the Government the necessary amendments to the Social Work Act.