KUCHING: The proposed Social Work Profession Bill will strengthen efforts to protect children and other vulnerable individuals from abuse, says a Sarawak minister.
Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the legislation would ensure that only social workers with suitable professional training would be appointed to the task of helping abused children and individuals.
"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.
"(The task of) assessing their needs, supporting them while they find their way in life and working with their family members falls to social workers within the Welfare Department.
"The same goes for adults subjected to domestic violence," she said in a statement on Friday (March 19).
Fatimah said it was crucial for social workers to adhere to a professional code of ethics as they dealt with sensitive personal issues.
"The Bill will ensure that they are trained, registered and accountable to the public in the same way that counsellors are regulated," she said.
Federal Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun said on Wednesday (March 17) that the Bill, which would recognise social work as a profession, was in the final stage of drafting.
Under the Bill, social workers would be required to register and be issued with a certificate by the Social Work Profession Council.
Fatimah noted that aspiring social workers in Sarawak could pursue a degree course at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak or a diploma at the Methodist Pilley Institute in Sibu.
She said the proposed Bill would help these students find employment and improve their service in addressing social problems.
"Ensuring that those employed in social work are equipped with professional skills will help others to also play their part in developing a caring society that will respond effectively to various needs," she added.