Unicef, MASW urge Malaysia to hasten Social Work Profession Bill

03 Oct 2023 08:35pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and Malaysian Association of Social Workers (MASW) today called on lawmakers to hasten the tabling of the Social Work Profession (PKS) Bill as the Parliament sits for the third meeting next week.

Chief of Child Protection, Unicef Malaysia Saskia Blume said enacting the bill will acknowledge and support the unvisible role of social work while ensuring Malaysians have access to the best social workers since professionaly-trained social workers are crucial in various settings.

She said the lack of regulation of social work hinders the potiential of social workers to contribute effectively to society because the bill would ensure the quality and an accountability of social work.

"There is need for trained social workers because there are 18,750 cases of child abuse recorded by Social Welfare Department and the Royal Malaysian Police reported 13,529 cases of domestic violence between 2020 and 2022,” she said during the press briefing in conjunction with the 'Social Workers: Heroes Among Us’ campaign, here.

Blume also pointed out that social work is unregulated in Malaysia, unlike in other Asean countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, besides Malaysia has only one social worker for every 8,576 people, compared to Singapore (1:3,448); United Kingdom (1:3,025) and Australia (1:490).

Meanwhile, Secretary of MASW Amy Bala said the general public have yet to understanding the real meaning of social workers, with many Malaysians viewing them as charity workers.

Thus, she said the PKS Bill can create awareness; enable the public to recognise professional social workers when seeking for assistance and state clearly the professional standards and consequences for non-compliance to ensure public safety.

"For social workers, the bill gives professional status and recognises them as valued professionals; providing professional training and encourage appropriate remuneration,” she said.

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She noted that social work is an established academic discipline in 12 higher learning institutions in this countries offering diploma to PhD programme, however, not all individuals working in the field of social work are professionally trained due to lack of regulation.

Amy was also confident that the government will soon table and pass the bill to acknowledge the role of social work in community development in line with the government’s vision for Malaysia Madani.

The PKS Bill, formely known as the Social Worker’s Bill was first approved by the Cabinet in 2010 and currently under review by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. - BERNAMA