The head of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) School of Social Science said the country risks losing professional social workers to neighbouring countries, especially Singapore which recognises such talents.
“Singapore has been taking our social workers as they know the value of such workers.
“These local social workers hired by other countries are well recognised, with good benefits and salaries which give them an opportunity to use their skills and knowledge to do social work in a conducive atmosphere,” said Prof Azlinda, during a forum on Promotion and Introduction of Social Work to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) organised by the state Welfare Department at Komtar recently.
In January, then Deputy Prime Minister and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was quoted as saying that the Social Workers Profession Act draft which seeks for social workers to being categorised as professionals, was in the last stage of preparation before being finalised.
It was reported that the Social Workers Profession Bill was drafted in 2011 with assistance from a consultant from Australia who was sponsored by Unicef.
The Act will also ensure that all social workers are qualified and trained.
The Public Service Commission can then recruit graduates and diploma holders in this field to work in the Welfare Department.
Prof Azlinda said earlier fears and apprehension about social workers and NGOs and the need for the Act had dissipated, as many now understand the need for recognition of social workers.
“What needs to be done is there should be clear separation between the work of social workers and volunteers.
“They are two types of workers with different roles,” she said.
State welfare and caring society committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, who closed the session, thanked the representatives of 25 NGOs at the session.
He said social work in Penang would not have been possible without the participation of social workers.
“Both the government and the NGOs have the same objective of caring for the society. Once the new law is passed, they will be able to do their jobs in a professional and organised way,” he said.
Phee said registered social workers would be able to enjoy the benefits of their profession and carry out their work according to the standard operating procedure.
“Social work needs to be regulated to prevent unlicensed and unregistered organisations from carrying out their services presently,” he said.