Long journey to get Social Workers Profession Bill tabled in Parliament

While everyone claims to do social work, not everyone is a social worker.

This is one reason why the Malaysian Association of Social Workers has worked tirelessly towards getting a Social Workers Profession Act over the last decade.

The Act, once gazetted, aims to elevate the status of social workers to professionals. It is also intended to improve efficiency in the management of social workers and regulating the profession.

Malaysian Association of Social Workers (MASW) vice-president Amy Bala, one of the stakeholders actively involved in drafting the Social Workers Profession Bill, said only a small number of people were involved in social work in Malaysia.

“We conducted a national survey in 2005 and found only 10 per cent of those involved in social work were qualified and competent social workers.

“We suggested to the government there is a need to move to professional social work. Just offering rehab, custodial care and preventive care will not work and the government said it would look into the matter.”

She said MASW has been a long-time partner with the Welfare Department, sitting in various committees moving towards the creation of the Bill.

“Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund) also played a big supporting role by provding resources and resource persons, including consultant Pauline Meemeeduma from Perth, who helped develop the competency standards and helped draft the first outline of the Bill,” Amy said.

“Just like doctors and lawyers who need professional qualifications, the competency level of a social worker is crucial.

“Many people are willing to go all out doing charity work, but what is their competency level? For social workers, psycho-social intervention is important,” Amy said.

“When it comes to a flood, any able-bodied person can offer help. But if a person is traumatised, only someone with specialised skills can work with this person,” she said.

“A social worker must be registered with the council which will screen and vet who will be recognised as professionals,” she said.

“While training and qualification are important, those with a related degree and have spent years doing social work or even those without qualification but have received training on social work, skills and ethics, will be considered by the council.

“The council will also train social workers, outsource jobs … this will ensure a balance and welfare workers can focus on other jobs which are in the best interest ofr a child, for example,” she said.

The Act may not be passed this year but Amy remains optimistic at least the first reading of the Bill will take place in the Dewan Rakyat next month.

“It has been a long process but we live on hope. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong had mentioned this in his speech in Parliament earlier this year and we are hopeful it will go through.”

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had in his speech on May 18, welcomed the drafting of the Bill which will give a new dimension to the social landscape in the country.

In October 2017, former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said he hoped the proposed Bill would be tabled after being delayed for five years.

Ahmad Zahid had said the matter would be presented to the Cabinet and then tabled in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.

Former Deputy Women and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh had also pushed for the Bill to be tabled but due to a change in government and Covid-19, the matter became secondary.

In June, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun said the ministry is expected to table the Bill by the end of this year.

A ministry spokesman last week declined comment when contacted by Twentywo13 on the status of the bill saying: “Wait for a statement from the ministry.”

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

MOST COVID-19 DEATHS IN MALAYSIA ARE THOSE AGED 50 AND ABOVE

Nearly 85.4 per cent of those who died after contracting Covid-19 in Malaysia were aged 50 and above.

Deputy health director-general Datuk Dr Rohaizat Yon said many of those who died had pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Dr Rohaizat said the strategies implemented by the Health Ministry’s had been successful with a death rate of only nine for every one million people.

The rate was far below that of the United States (741 per one million population); United Kingdom (732), the Philippines (70) and Indonesia (54), based on the Worldometer.info international data, he said.

After recording more than a thousand cases for five days, there was a spark of hope today with 660 cases. Also, we hit an unwanted milestone with a total of 50,390 cases. Four deaths were also reported.

ABOLISH YAYASAN WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN, URGE KL ELECTED REPS

Opposition MPs in Kuala Lumpur today called for the abolition of Yayasan Persekutuan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP).

This comes after the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday said YWP (a foundation under the Federal Territories Ministry) should be made a statutory body free from political interference to ensure greater accountability.

“The government cannot audit the accounts of Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan as it is registered under the Companies Act and it is beyond the jurisdiction of the government,” said Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.

“The ball is now in the government’s court to see if it will accept or ignore the PAC’s report,” said Lim.

Lim said YWP was involved in the sale or rental of billboards, sale of government land without tender and sale and rental of parking lots in Kuala Lumpur.

“These assets belong to the government, why should these assets be handled by a company?” he asked.

“It is time the government abolished the foundation. If the government says it is a charitable arm, this job can be undertaken by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry. City Hall and the Federal Territories Ministry can also set up a new department for this purpose,” Lim added.

The PAC’s recommendations come following its findings that the measures taken to resolve 97 land transactions by Kuala Lumpur City Hall since 2011 did not follow any SOP (standard operating procedure).

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh had said the process was too loose, exposed to abuse of power and did not protect the interest of City Hall and residents of Kuala Lumpur.”

FORMER MINISTER MOKHTAR HASHIM DIES

Former Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Mokhtar Hashim died today at the age of 78.

The former Tampin MP breathed his last at Hospital Ampang at 3.10am.

In 1983, Mokhtar was sentenced to death for the murder of Negeri Sembilan speaker Datuk Mohamad Taha Talib on April 14, 1982 in Gemencheh Negeri Sembilan.

The murder several days before the general election that year was believed to be linked to political rivalry.

Mokhtar’s death sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment and he was subsequently pardoned and released in 1991.

NEW NILAI STABLE CAN SPARK INTEREST IN EQUESTRIAN, GENERATE JOBS

Former World No 1 equestrian rider Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani is designing a new stable in Nilai with the hope it will get more people to enjoy equestrian while helping to create jobs in the area.

It will also help generate jobs for those in the area, especially those whose income has been affected by Covid-19.

Awang Kamaruddin said the stable would consist of paddocks as well as an area for archery classes where participants can also learn about horseback archery.