GENERAL AND ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS (SACSSP) ON 19 OCTOBER 2005

Submission made by the SA Council for Social Service Professions at the 6th briefing session by the Council, to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development, held at Parliament on 19 October 2005.

1. INTRODUCTION

This presentation is made by the South African Council for Social Service Professions at a briefing meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on some of the Councilís programmes and activities with the focus on the 2005/06 financial year.

In briefing the Portfolio Committee the following matters are being dealt with:

It should be noted that the in terms of Section 13(1)(b) of the Social Service Professions Act (Act 110 of 1978) as amended, Council must submit a copy of its audited financial statements to the Minister of Social Development. However, due to problems experienced with the Councilís book keeping system for the 2004/2005 financial year, completion of the auditing of the Councilís books has been delayed and is still in the process of being completed. The Councilís financial statements will consequently be submitted to the Minister as soon as possible after completion.

With reference to an annual report Council has so far not compiled such a document. The Council will however, starting with the period October 2005 until September 2006 compile and submit such annual reports.

 

2 BACKGROUND OF THE COUNCIL

The SA Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP), the statutory regulatory body for the social service professions in South Africa, was established and functions in terms of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978) as amended. The present SACSSP evolved from the erstwhile SA Council for Social and Associated Work (established in 1980), the SA Council for Social Work and the SA Interim Council for Social Work.

Following drastic amendments to the Act in 1989 and 1999 the Act now inter alia makes provision for the establishment of professional boards for the various social service professions, under the auspices of the Council. Two of the present priorities of the Council is to attend to the drafting of a new act to replace the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978) as the present Act is outdated, and to incorporate the other social service professions under the auspices of the Council as the umbrella governance body for the social service professions.

The First SACSSP completed its five year term of office during 2004. This Council laid the foundation for the present new Council and started to prepare the way for the establishment of the professional boards for the individual social service professions. Following the constitution of the Second SACSSP in November 2004, the first two professional boards were established and instituted under Councilís auspices on 3 February 2005.

The following persons were appointed by the Minister of Social Development or elected by social workers, as members of the 2nd SACSSP (in alphabetical sequence in terms of their surnames) in terms of section 5 of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978) as amended:

 

3. COUNCIL AND BOARDíS ROLES AND OBJECTIVES

In terms of the Act the Councilís comprehensive role can be summarised as follows:

With the establishment of the professional boards a reality, a specific point of focus of the organisation at present is the clarification of the role differentiation between the Council and the professional boards. Whereas the Council as the juristic person will have an overarching coordinating role regarding the professions and would attend to the making of the organisationís general policies, the professional boards would deal with the regulation of all matters pertaining to the profession(s) under the ambit of the board concerned.

 

4. ESTABLISHMENT OF FIRST SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONAL BOARDS

The Council is the umbrella body and juristic person, with the various professional boards its delegates, each being responsible for the profession(s) under its ambit.

A social service professional board is established by the Minister of Social Development on the recommendation of the Council, in terms of section 14A of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978) as amended. The practitioners of the profession concerned should lodge an application for a board to be established to the Council. Council will then investigate the application and if it meets the Councilís criteria, will make the necessary recommendation to the Minister for a board to be established.

History was made in February 2005 with the establishment of the first two such professional boards, namely the Professional board for Social Work (PBSW) and the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care (PBCYC). The Professional Board for Probation Services will be the next board to be established, whilst attention is also being given inter alia to establishing a professional board for community development.

In order to establish the professional boards and in order for the boards to function, the following sets of regulations were drafted with the input from the different constitutions, accepted by the Minister and published in the Government Gazette for implementation:

The Professional Board for Social Work has taken over the functions previously fulfilled by the Council regarding the social work profession.

The following persons were appointed by the Minister of Social Development or elected by social workers and social auxiliary workers, as members of the 1st Professional Board for Social Work (PBSW) (in alphabetical sequence according to their surnames) in terms of section 28(1)(gD) of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978) as amended and the Regulations regarding the establishment and constitution of a professional board for social work, made in terms of the Act:

The professional Boards for Child and Youth Care and Probation Services will initially focus on the drafting and implementation of regulations in terms of the Act, inter alia establishing registers for their practitioners, establishing the criteria for their registration, setting the fees to be paid for registration, determining the acts or omissions which shall constitute unprofessional conduct, and formulating the code of ethics to be followed in the practising of the profession concerned.

The following persons were appointed by the Minister of Social Development or elected by child youth care workers as members of the 1st Professional Board for Child and Youth Care (PBCYC) in alphabetical sequence according to their surnames) in terms of section 28(1)(gD) of the Social Service Professions Act, 1978 (Act 110 of 1978) as amended and the Regulations regarding the establishment and constitution of a professional board for child and youth care, made in terms of the Act:

The members of the Professional Board for Probation Services must still be elected and appointed for this board to be constituted and to become operational.

 

5. FUNDING OF THE COUNCIL

With reference to the funding of the Council, it is emphasised that the Council does not receive any money automatically from the Department of Social Development. The Councilís main source of revenue is the annual and registration fees payable to it by persons registered with the Council. Consequently Council is responsible to obtain its own funding to provide in its operational needs. It is therefore of imperative importance that the practitioners of any social service profession for which a professional board has been established should be enabled to register and start contributing financially to the Council as soon as possible after the establishment of such a board.

During the previous five financial years the Councilís annual income from the annual and registration fees payable to it by the persons registering with the Council, amounted to the following:

YEAR

AMOUNT

1999/2000

1 689 289

2000/2001

2 455 575

2001/2002

2 886 905

2002/2003

2 597 748

2003/2004

3 300 810

Funding received from any outside source, such as the Department of Social Development is not included in the above amounts.

The Councilsí activities are divided into specific programmes each with its own budget, with the original budgeted expenditure for each programme being as follows for the financial year 2005/06:

PROGRAMME

AMOUNT

PROFESSIONALISATION

555,500

PUBLIC RELATIONS

411,144

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

322,783

ADMINISTRATION AND REGISTRATION

1,590.947

FINANCE

249,648

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM

86,300

MANAGEMENT/ADMINISTRATIVE TRAINING

25,000

PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

447,187

Total

3,688,510*

* This budget only makes provision for the income generated by the Council from its main source of revenue (the monies payable to Council by the persons registering with it) and excludes any other possible funding, such as funding from the Department.

 

6. FUNDING RECEIVED FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The establishment and operationalising of the professional boards is severely taxing Councilís financial resources. Consequently, Council had to indicate to the Department that it is not in a position to finance the establishing of the professional boards for the additional professions, and that the practitioners of such professions should eventually carry the financial costs of their board to function as did the social workers in the case of the old Council.

Therefore Council applied to the Department of Social Development for funding to establish the professional boards other than that of social work, to cover their initial operational cost, as well as to assist the Council in covering the costs of certain other projects.

Council gratefully acknowledges the following financial contributions which were received from the Department of Social Development in terms of memoranda of agreement entered into to utilise the funding for the projects as indicated:

 

 

PROGRAMME AND DATE

DONOR

PURPOSE

AMOUNT RECEIVED

PROFESSIONALISATION

February 2003

December 2003

January 2004

December 2004

DSD

DSD

DSD (Neth)

DSD

Prof boards

Prof boards

PBPS

Prof Boards

500,000

250,000

528,000

155,000

Subtotal

   

1,433,000

PUBLIC RELATIONS

December 2003

December 2004

December 2004

DSD

DSD

DSD

Nat conf

Nat conf

Research

350,000

230,000

230,000

Subtotal

   

810,000

EDUCATION & TRAINING

December 2003

January 2004

December 2004

DSD

DSD

DSD

CPD

PBPS SGB

Educ & Dev

150,000

300,000

55,000

Subtotal*

   

505,000

PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

December 2004

DSD

Prof cond

80,000

Subtotal

   

80,000

Total

   

2,828,000

* The HSWSETA and SAQA contributed a further R321,501 to this

programme.

 

7. SALARIES AND SERVICE CONDITIONS OF SOCIAL SERVICE PERSONNEL

Council strongly supports Governmentís emphasis on and all its endeavours to alleviate the problem of poverty and itís accompanying socio-economic problems from which such a large portion of the South African population is suffering. To assist in dealing with the problem one would therefore expect a increased demand for the services of members of the social service professions, such as social workers and the payment of a corresponding remuneration to them.

The following table reflects what could possibly be an increased demand for the services of social workers as is indicated in the increased number of registered social workers during the thee years up to 2005:

 

Year

No of registered

social workers

2003

10 031

2004

11 178

2005

11 245

However it is important to emphasise that it is because of the vigorous registration campaign the Council embarked upon to restore the names of social workers that practised illegally to the register of the Council, that the number of registered social workers increased.

Unfortunately, the low salaries paid to social workers and the conditions of service, in terms of which many of them have to work, have been a serious concern for the sector for many years. Therefore, with extensive input from the different role players comprising the social service professions sector, the Council compiled a Guideline document for the remuneration, service conditions and human resource management in the social service professions in June 2002. The objective of the document was to provide a suitable guideline, which would contribute to the successful addressing of the imbalance, inequity and discrepancies in the remuneration of social service practitioners, as well as the effective utilisation of the sector. This Guideline was made available as widely as possible for general use, and for use by the various stakeholders during salary negotiations. It was also sent to the Portfolio Committee.

In addition to this, a submission titled The remuneration of social service professionals in the Public Service at entry level, was made to the Minister and Department of Public Administration, and a submission titled The remuneration of social service professionals employed by the no-governmental organisations (NGOs), was made to the Minister and Department of Social Development in March 2002. These submissions contained the guideline for minimum remuneration of persons employed in the social service professions and the Ministers were requested to attend to certain discrepancies regarding the remuneration of social service personnel employed in Government departments as well as by NPO/NGOs dependant on Government subsidies.

Following this the Department of Social Development convened a task team in conjunction with representatives from the Department of Public Service and Administration and the Council, to deal with the remuneration, grading and job descriptions of social workers employed in the public sector. This lead to certain salary adaptations having been made for social workers employed in the public sector.

On 28 January 2005, the Minister of Labour announced the commencement of an investigation to investigate the rates of remuneration, and conditions of employment with a view to establish a minimum wage and conditions of employment within the welfare sector, in the Government Gazette, in terms of Section 52(3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997.

In addition, the Finance Minister announced in Parliament on 23 February 2005 in his Budget Speech for 2005/06, that the salaries of social workers in the public sector were to be improved. This is what the Task Team, facilitated by the Council, had requested but at the same time it was requested to also increase the salaries of those in the NPO/NGO sector. Therefore, it was envisaged that the outcome of this announcement could contribute to a further widening of the gap between the salaries paid to social workers in the public sector vis-à-vis that paid to social workers in the NPO/NGO sector

The situation regarding the remuneration of the social workers in the non-government sector is of great concern and a very real crisis in the sector has been building up over the years. The NGO/NPO sector is a major provider of direct services to people at grassroots level. Social workers employed in this sector undertake community development, poverty alleviation, statutory services in terms of a number of Acts, prevention, continuing care services and early intervention.

Since, and even before the Ministerís announcement, there have been numerous enquiries, appeals, meetings and submissions about this matter. Various groups of social workers have made submissions and recently a mass meeting was held in Gauteng. Although some provinces have increased subsidies somewhat the basic situation in the NPO/NGO sector has remained virtually static.

However, the increased subsidies paid by some provinces to NPO/NGOs caused a new discrepancy as the matter was being dealt with on a provincial level and not on a national level. The problem being that personnel employed by the same NGO but in different provinces, that previously earned the same salary, now earned different salaries.

The Department of Social Development has produced a draft Retention Strategy for Social Workers and it is trusted that it would address the whole sector, including those in the NPO/NGO sector. The Council participated on the Task Team of the Department of Social Development responsible for the drafting of the Financing Policy for the NGO sector and it trusted that once this policy is approved it will effectively address the challenges and transformation issues of all organisations in the private sector.

The situation regarding social work practitioners employed in the NGO sector does not bode well for the immediate present and the future in respect of the achievement of social service delivery aims and objectives. It therefore is of imperative importance for government to increase the subsidisation of salaries of social workers in the NPO/NGO sector.

 

8. SOCIAL WORKERS LEAVING FOR ABROAD

The so-called "brain drain" amongst the professions, of professionals leaving the country to work abroad, also is a concern regarding social workers.

No statistics regarding social workers who immigrated are available. However, the following figures give an indication of how many social workers obtained Certificates of Status from the Council when leaving for abroad (these certificates are required to register as social workers in most foreign countries):

Year

Number of

certificates issued

2000

29

2001

37

2002

34

2003

26

2004

28

2005

21 (until 30 September)

Against this background it may seem that probably not as many social workers have left the Country as is often thought. However, more social workers have probably left the country without obtaining Certificates of Status from the Council.

In the absence of specific research, one could only speculate about the reasons for these people leaving. Reasons often put forward as contributing factors are the following:

A factor that could play an important role in this respect is the effect of the so-called "global village" and the fact that many newly qualified young people want to spread their wings and gain some overseas experience, earn some pounds or dollars to pay of their study loans, to return after a few years. In such cases the country could possibly benefit from their overseas experience.

The Council participated on the Task Team of Department of Social Development responsible for the drafting of a Service delivery Model for the social services sector. It is trusted that this policy document would affectively address issues of unmanageable caseloads of specifically social workers.

 

9. 1ST NATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR SOCIAL SERVICE PROFESSIONS

The first National Conference for the Social Service Professions was held during October 2004. The theme of the conference was Dialogue across disciplines Ė Partnership in development and it was co-hosted by the Council and the Department of Social Development. The Department funded the conference with an amount of R580 000, whilst the rest of the expenses were covered by the conference fees paid by delegates.

Numerous attempts were made to include papers presented by as many different social service practitioners as possible. Nevertheless, most of the papers were submitted by academics and social workers.

The conference was attended by 658 delegates, consisting inter alia of the Deputy Minister for Social Development, Provincial MECs, Heads of Social Welfare Services, representatives from the Office of the Premier, representatives from local training institutions and from Botswana, social service professionals/providers representing the cross spectrum of disciplines within the social service sector, including social workers, Child and youth workers, social auxiliary workers, community development workers, probation officers and community members.

The objectives of the conference were achieved and the conference afforded the Council and the Department of Social Development an opportunity to establish positive working relationships with all social service professionals.

At the end of the conference, the conference issued the following declaration:

DIALOGUE ACROSS DISCIPLINES - FOR PARTNERSHIPS TO ENHANCE A BETTER LIFE FOR ALL AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

We the 658 delegates consisting of Social Service Professionals/ Providers (hereafter referred to as Social Service Professionals) and community members gathered at the St George Hotel, Pretoria South Africa from the 25-27 October 2004, celebrating 10 years of freedom, the International year of the family and social development month; and noting that this is the first ever national conference of this nature in the history of our country, representing the cross spectrum of disciplines within the social service sector, and acknowledging that this is the beginning of dialogue between partners.

We as partners declare as follows:

The implementation of the Declaration is to take place in terms of an action plan and a follow-up conference is being planned to be held in due course.

The implementation of the follow-up action plan of the Conference Declaration is made possible due to the profit made at the national conference. The Minister of Social Development and the Council approved that the profit of the conference be utilised for the implementation of the conference declaration. This declaration will therefore be implemented in various phases. The following activities are already receiving attention:

 

10. EDUCATION & TRAINING

With reference to the Councilís objectives in respect of the education and training of social service practitioners, the Council continues to play an important role.

One of the latest developments in this respect is the impending name change of the social work qualification to that of Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) Degree which is to be the same at all universities nationally. All universities will also comply with the exit level outcomes formulated by the Standards Generating Body (SGB) for Social Work. These outcomes were developed to be in line with the requirements of the needs of the present day South African population and are to be implemented on 1 January 2007.

Attention is being given to finalising the Councilís policy in respect of the introduction of compulsory continued professional development (CPD) requirements for social workers. It is endeavoured to finalise this policy by 2007. In addition, the Professional Board for Social Work has resolved to establish a speciality in social work for occupational social work. The drafting of the regulations for establishing this speciality and for social workers to register such a speciality is in process.

Council is also playing an active role in quality assuring the contents of the various social service learning programmes. On the lower levels for instance, the quality assurance in the social auxiliary work learnership as approved by the Department of Labour, will ensure that proper attention could be given to the primary needs of communities as part of the execution of the social work services, with the social auxiliary worker being the assistant to the social worker.

As far as the FET Certificate in Social Auxiliary Work is concerned, it is important to note that the SACSSP facilitated the following developments:

With reference to the profession of Child and Youth Care and the learnerships for this profession, attention would be given to the regulation of matters pertaining to the education and training of the practitioners of this profession The HWSETA will pursue this matter in collaboration with the Professional board for Child and Youth Care.

 

11. COMMUNICATION AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

The following highlights received attention under this heading:

The SACSSP received an amount of R230 000 from the Department of Social Development to embark on a research project to ascertain the alleged apathy of social workers, towards the profession and the lack of participation in the activities of the Council, as well as to establish the reason why some social workers left the profession. The Task Team comprising of representatives from the labour unions, the professional associations, universities, civil society organisations and the Department of Social Development envisaged to conclude the research by December 2005.

The Council was represented on the Conference organising Committee of the first conference of the HWSETA. A paper pertaining to the skills shortage of social workers in the country and the impact on service delivery was presented.

The Council participated with other stakeholders on the Task Team of the Department of Social Development in the development of generic job descriptions for Community Development workers.

The Councilís Newsletter is published twice per annum its, during April and September. The circulation have increased from 12 000 copies to a distribution list of 13 000 copies. It is envisaged that this number will increase with at least another 2 000 copies when the Child and Youth Care workers are registered with the Council and the Professional Board for Probation Services have been established. Members of the Portfolio Committee are encouraged to use the Newsletter to publish articles that would be beneficial to the social services sector as a whole.

The Councilís Manager Communication and Public Relations and the Manager Professional Conduct are embarking on visits at a national and provincial level to address problems of the social services sector. The following matters are some of the agenda items to be discussed: problems pertaining to professional conduct, working relationship between the NGOs and the Department of Social development, the positioning of social work as a profession and the role of the Council and enhancing the image of the Council by being visible.

Visits to the national Departments of, SAPS and Education were already undertaken. A presentation was also done at the congress of the National Welfare and Social Services and Development Forum. Sangoco and the Department of Health will be visited at the end of October 2005.

Council and or Professional Board members will accompany the two managers on these visits in provinces where they reside. A representative from the national Department of Social Development will form part of the delegation when visits are done at the departments provincial offices.

 

12. PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

Council is in the process of finalising its new Code of Ethics for Social Work as well as its Policy Guidelines for the Course of Conduct, and the rules for Social Workers made in terms of he Act. The Manager concerned is to embark on a drive to inform and educate practitioners about the Code.

In due course the above mentioned documents will be expanded to provide for the social service professions other than social work under the auspices of the Council.

 

13. CONCLUSION

The South African Council for Social Service Professions and its newly established professional boards are fulfilling their statutorily awarded regulatory role regarding the social service professions concerned in all earnest. Following the changing and expansion of its responsibilities to include the regulation of the other social service professions, the Council and the professional board concerned are inter alia as their main priority at this point in time, attending to the setting of criteria for the registration of the practitioners of the new profession of child and youth work, with that of probation services to follow soon, and will have the registers for their registration up and running in the foreseeable future.

Another important priority of the Council is to attend to the drafting of a new Act and it is planned to submit this new Act to Parliament for finalisation by the end of 2006 beginning of 2007. The necessary support is to be obtained from important role players such as the Portfolio Committee and submissions are to be made in due course.

In dealing with these matters serious demands are being made on the Councilís resources, both in terms of its human resources and financial resources. Additional resources would have to be obtained as a matter of priority to ensure that the Council is in a position to fulfil its responsibilities.

Council sincerely appreciates this opportunity to present the Portfolio Committee with some of the highlights comprising the most contentious and important issues that the Council dealt with during 2005 and 2006 and with which it is to deal with in the foreseeable future.