Strengthening child protection systems

Fatimah Abdullah

KUCHING: The proposed Social Work Profession Act will strengthen the country’s system to protect children from abuse, said Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

She said this when welcoming the announcement that the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) was in the final stage of drafting the Social Work Profession Bill.

“We read every day in the papers of children being abused, including sexual abuse, but rarely does the public stop to consider the skills needed to help such children.

“Assessing their needs and supporting them while they find their way in life and working with their family members fall to social workers within the Department of Welfare. Similarly for adults subjected to domestic violence,” she said in a statement today (Mar 19).

She said the proposed legislation was very much needed to ensure that only those with the suitable professional training would be appointed to such tasks.

She pointed out that social workers, wherever they are employed, dealt with highly sensitive personal issues and it was crucial that they adhered to the professional code of ethics of this internationally recognised profession.

“The Act will ensure that they are fully trained, registered, and accountable to the public in the same way counsellors are regulated,” she said.

Fatimah said Sarawak was fortunate as it already had a degree course for aspiring social workers at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

“We have also opened up a step-by-step path to professional qualification with the newly established diploma offered by the Methodist Pilley Institute in Sibu,” she said.

“This Act will help these local students secure employment where they are needed, and most importantly, help improve service design and implementation as they bring their knowledge, skills, and ethics to addressing the various social problems society faces,” she said.

She said part of professional social workers’ way of working was developing skills in the wider community, for instance, on how to care for an ageing population.

She added that they worked in partnership with volunteers and others addressing such social issues at the community, family, and individual level.

“Therefore, ensuring those employed in social work posts are equipped with professional skills will help others to also play their part in developing a caring society effectively responding to varied needs. My ministry is fully supportive of the federal government’s plans,” said Fatimah.