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MEDIA STATEMENT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL WORK INDABA RESOLUTIONS

The Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini championed the planning and hosting of a Social Work Indaba in March 2015 to hear first-hand the grievances of social workers.

The aim of the Social Work Indaba was to create an opportunity for departmental Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers to raise the challenges they experience with service delivery and the environment and to jointly seek solutions. Further it aimed to empower Social Workers and Social Auxiliary Workers to render effective and efficient services.

The Minister is fully aware of the issues and concerns raised by social workers across the country, especially those employed by the Department. After the successful Indaba resolutions were made and an action plan was developed.

Progress has been made to achieve the objectives outlined in the action plan. A consolidated status report on progress made since June 2015 when the action plan was finalized has been developed to provide an overview in relation to each resolution.  Furthermore, some immediate interventions (quick-wins) were identified and which should be achieved by March 2017 was developed for implementation by the Provinces and affected stakeholders.

Specific response to issues raised by the #SocialworkMovement is hereby provided:

    Review of the social work scholarship policy to ensure guaranteed employment of students who use own funds to study for a Bachelor of Social Work degree:
  • The Draft Social Work Scholarship Policy is currently being reviewed to ensure that all social work graduates irrespective of whether they benefitted from the program or not have access to employment and economic opportunities in the country.
  • A national workshop was held in September 2016 to consult all affected stakeholders, including current students on the policy.  A chapter in the scholarship policy is devoted to employment and economic opportunities.
    Review of entry level salaries of social workers
  • Review of salaries in the public sector is the competence and responsibility of the Minister for Public Service and Administration. Remuneration of Public Servants resides with Department of Public Service and Administration.
  • However, the Department submitted the National Social Work Indaba report to the Presidential Review Commission to also consider social work salaries in addition to those of Educators. The Department has still to get progress from the Commission.
    Balancing scope of work between social workers and social auxiliary workers
  • The social welfare services requires social work practice as both professional and auxiliary level. It is therefore necessary for the Department to continue employing social auxiliary workers who have to practice within their defined roles and responsibilities and scope of practice as determined by the South African Council for Social Service Professions.
  • It is important to note that the Department is currently undertaking the project on the development of the Demand and Supply Model for Social Service Practitioners, within the context of demand for social welfare services. The model will assist the Department and the sector to make estimated projections for the required number of social worker and social auxiliary workers. Both social worker and social auxiliary workers are essential for the continued professional and accountable social work practice in the country.
    Improved working conditions
  • All provinces undertook a process of quantifying resources required to improve working conditions of social workers (including Community Development Practitioners). These include ICT, infrastructure and transport.  Each province to procure and allocate resources.
  • Blueprint Design and Spatial Norms and Standards have been developed to guide development and allocation of office space for all social service practitioners, including social workers. However, it should be noted that with the limited budget in Provinces, it is difficult or almost impossible for Provinces to commission the technical condition assessments of DSD office infrastructure nor resource the current needs of social workers.
    Absorption of unemployment of social work graduates 
  • The National Development Plan requires that if the social welfare service delivery system has to be responsive to the needs of the public, then at least 55 000 social service practitioners should be actively employed to deliver those services. That is why it is crucial for the Department to continue with the social work scholarship programme.
  • However, considering the fact that the Department is developing the Sector Human Resource, which will guide review of organizational structures, the Department has considered an option of phased in reduction of scholarship recipients to provide opportunities to employ graduates from the savings.
  • Part of scholarship funds has been allocated as a conditional grant for a period of 3 years to absorb 566 unemployed graduates who benefited from scholarship. Provinces are expected to employ social workers from their equitable share. Employment is envisaged to commence during 2017/18 financial year.
    Funding of social work salaries in the NPO sector( HR to advise)
  • The Minister cannot determine salaries and conditions of services in the NPO sector as employer NGOs are not governed by Public Service Act and related Regulation.
  • Furthermore, collective agreements in terms of organised labour are not applicable in the NPO sector as they are not a homogeneous group. That is why there are even differences of salaries between NPOs.
  • However, the Department may consider funding of NPOs within the current Policy on Financial Awards to negotiate with funded NPOs to use portion of funds to improve salaries of social workers.
    Tools of trade
  • The Department acknowledges that it is critical to create an enabling environment for every employee including social workers to perform their duties effectively.
  • The national Department of Social workers consulted with Provinces and social work representatives to develop a standardized package of tools of trade that has to be implemented by provinces. This was communicated with provinces during relevant management structures (WSF & HSDS) for implementation. Each province has to develop its own procurement plan based on the outcomes of resource analysis of needs.

The provision of comprehensive social welfare services as envisaged by the NDP can only be realized through the efforts of a well-trained, motivated and professional cadre of social workers. The Department of Social Development remains committed to this goal. The department also recognises and appreciates the sterling work done by our social workers in protecting the most vulnerable in our society and addressing social ills.

Media inquiries may be forwarded to Ms Lumka Oliphant on 083 484 8067 or lumkao@dsd.gov.za

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

 

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