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Issue 42 (12/2018)

Table of Contents

Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration Work Report - 
Mr. SHIU Ka-chun, Convener of the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration

Professional expertise and skills, in addition to good character and integrity, are expected of social workers by the general public. To ensure the professional quality of social workers, the Board has established the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration, to be responsible for drafting, formulating and reviewing the principles and criteria for recognizing social work qualifications, as well as assessing and reviewing the related social work qualifications. In this issue of Newsletter, we will summarize the work of the Committee in the past term, as well as providing an outlook to the future work direction.

Committee Members

The Committee comprises nine members, including myself (Convener), Dr. CHU Cheong-hay (co-opted member), Mr. IP Kim Ching (co-opted member), Mr. KWAN Wing-shing, Vincent, Dr. KWOK Ngai-kuen, Alvin (co-opted member), Ms. LAW Yee-ming (co-opted member), Dr. LEUNG Chuen-suen, Ms. LUK Ka-mei and Mr. LUN Chi-wai.

Work Retrospect

1. Social Work Qualification Assessment and Review
From January 2016 to the cut-off date of this newsletter, the Committee has completed a total of 27 recognition assessment or review applications from tertiary institutions including 5 new social work qualifications and 22 regular reviews of existing social work qualifications. No matter that it was a newly-launched programme or a programme with long history, we closely followed the “Principles, Criteria and Standards for Recognizing Qualifications in Social Work for Registration of RSWs” (version 15 October 2014) (“Principles, Criteria and Standards”), in hopes that tertiary institutions could provide quality social work programmes and cultivate new professionals. Our ultimate goal is to protect the interests of the general public.

2. Reviewing the Registration Application Procedures for Applicant Holding Non-local Social Work Qualifications
Regarding the registration applications with social work qualifications from non-local or countries/regions not recognized by the Board, the Committee would conduct individual assessment on such qualifications and compare them with the criteria set out in the Principles, Criteria and Standards to assess whether the level of the qualifications met the requirements of a registered social worker in Hong Kong. To enhance the transparency of the review process of such cases, the Committee has reorganized the presentation of relevant information, and listed out the documents and procedures required for the application.

3. Seminars jointly organized by Social Work Departments of Local Institutions
In the past two years, I represented the Board to participate in seminars jointly organized by social work departments by the Hong Kong Association of Schools of Social Work and to introduce the work of the Board in relation to qualification assessment to local social work academia and those from abroad. Through the exchange of ideas. I took the opportunity to learn about the latest developments of social work programmes and the dilemmas faced by tertiary institutions.
4. Reviewing the Principles, Criteria and Standards 
The current Principles, Criteria and Standards has been in use since the last amendment in 2014. In order to accommodate the changes in the social environment, the Principles, Criteria and Standards should be revised regularly and opinions were collected from different stakeholders last year. The Committee is doing its best to deliberate and draft recommended revisions, and is looking forward to the next round of consultations in the coming year.

The term of the current Board members will expire soon. I would like to thank each member for their hard work, and all tertiary institutions, RSWs, and different stakeholders for their support and valuable advices on the work of the Committee.

Election of Board Members

The term of the current Board members will be completed on 15 January 2019. By virtue of the Social Workers Registration Ordinance (Ordinance), the Board consists of 15 members in which 6 shall be appointed by the Chief Executive and 1 shall be the Director of Social Welfare or his representative. The remaining 8 members shall be elected by RSWs. 

Voting Period
A total of 23 eligible RSWs ran in the election for the 8 seats. Candidates’ promotional materials and the ballot forms were sent to eligible RSWs in October and November, respectively.  The voting period started from 8 November 2018 to noon of 1 December 2018. Voting could be made by mail or in person.  

Election Forum
The Board organized an electoral forum on 3 November 2018, wherein, the candidates who had attended explained their manifestos to RSWs in person and answered questions put to them by the RSWs. The video of forum was uploaded on to the Board’s website during the voting period. 
election forum

Election Result
vote counting
Vote counting started right after the voting period i.e. noon of 1 December 2018, open to the public for observance. The vote counting was conducted by computer system and monitored by the Election Committee.  A total of 5,461 ballot forms were received with the voter turnout rate at 23%. The eight candidates received the highest votes were as follows (according to the number of votes):
Lun Chi-wai, Ting Wai-fong, Leung Chuen-suen, Ng Yut-ming, Kwok Ngai-kuen, Tsang Kin-chiu, Cheung Lai-yi and Chan Tsz-wai
The list of new Board members will be published in the gazette notice and the term of office will be from 16 January 2019 to 15 January 2022.

Words from Board Members 

The term of the current Board members will come to an end on 15 January next year. With the change of office coming soon, following are words from some members of the current term.

CHUNG Wai-lung

In the past three years, I have discharged my duties with the most meticulous care since being elected as a Board member. I have to adhere to my motives in the first place at the time when I ran for the Election. At the same time, I have to serve the field and the public. I have mixed feeling and it is just like that a man drinks water and he is the one who can feel whether it is cold or hot.

Three years are about to pass. As stated in my election pledges, "I will only run for one term with no re-election”. I will step down soon. I am happy to see that an increasing number of candidates with the same mission run for the election, guard against deregistration of RSWs due to prosecution of political reason and prevent from the infiltration of “Red force” in the social welfare sector. Also, I am also pleased to see that members have dedicated their time and effort without asking for rewards with the aim to strengthening the role and image of the Board and drawing RSWs’ attention to the Board at all time but not only at the time of annual renewal of registration. If RSWs continues to show their concerns to the Board, it will help the Board Members to focus in their duties and contribute to the field. In the past, I blamed myself of ignoring the Board’s work and therefore ran for the election. I hope the happen of the alike will be less.

Today, the social atmosphere is very tense. In this era, it is increasingly difficult for social workers to uphold the basic values of social work when serving the public.  I hope in future all RSWs will show concerns to the Board's operation and development continuously so that justice can be done for the field as well as Hong Kong society.

KWAN Wing-shing

In the blink of an eye, three years is to pass. I recalled that in 2015 year end, I ran for election of Board Members with trepidation. Before the election, I had luck that I was inspired by a predecessor. Instead of staying outside of the Board to express our views, we could go into the Board through election and put our views into practice.

In the past three years, I have participated in many kinds of meetings related to administrative affairs, review of registration system, recognition of qualifications and complaints handling in which there were many learning opportunities. At present, many RSWs still do not know much about the Board but in the future, we hope that the linkage between the Board and RSWs will be further strengthened, so that RSWs will have better understanding towards the registration system and the work of the Board.

In the past three years, the Board office provided administrative support to the Board and facilitated the Board’s daily operation. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to them! The election for the eight new members will be held soon, I would like to appeal all RSWs to vote for eight new members of the Board proactively.

LEUNG Chuen-suen

When I took up the role of the Board member three years ago, I set a vision to implement the registration system and monitor the code of conduct of social workers in accordance with the Ordinance, and to do my best to respond to reasonable expectations from fellow workers. In view of this, I became the Vice-Chairman, the Convener of the Committee on Administration, as well as member of the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration and the Committee of Professional Conduct. I also attended all meetings and performed wholeheartedly.

Three years have passed by swiftly, I dare not say that everything was done perfectly, but I am convinced that we have indeed executed our election pledges, such as enhancing the transparency of the Board's information, improving the administrative and financial systems, handling complaints rigorously, adhering to high standard of academic qualifications, as well as amending the Ordinance in relation to registration. All these aspects have seen improvement since we took office. Surely these improvements relied on the unremitting efforts of the Board members and staff members, especially the hard work from the two Registrars. I would like to hereby express my gratitude to all the colleagues.

LO Wa-kei, Roy

Hong Kong has seen different levels of social conflicts in recent years, the role of social work has become increasingly important. The work of social workers depends highly on their professional judgments. They play an indispensable role in easing social issues and creating community harmony.

Over the years, the development of social work has been challenged, and issues such as social workers' remuneration package, working hours, and professional conduct have received much attention. The Board has been striving to coordinate, with the aim to work for the interests of the general public, balance the interests of all parties, and come up with the most effective approach to deal with the matters. We hope to protect social workers with desirable resources and environment and to promote social workers to do more “down-to-earth work" for the people.

As a professional accountant, my main duties include monitoring the financial of the Board and assisting the Board in maintaining financial stability. During my term, I have also worked with other committee members to deal with many controversial social work issues. Fortunately, all the committee members work wholeheartedly towards the same goal, so that the Board can operate smoothly.

Time flies, I have been a Board member for more than two and a half years. Although the current term of office will end in less than four months, I will strive to assist the Board in completing various tasks and continue to care for the growth and interests of social workers.

LUK Ka-mei

I have been a member of the Board for almost three years now without realizing it. Three years is a fair amount of time for me to get familiar with different procedures and duties of the Board. From approving social work qualifications of tertiary institutions to applications for registration or renewal every week, handling various administrative and legal procedures, each action must be taken meticulously with great consideration. If not for the help from experienced members, the Registrar, the Assistant Registrar and other staff, it is impossible to master the duties in a short period of time while maintaining social work professionalism and fairness.

The most profound and arduous task is to handle disciplinary complaints, which might sometimes take a few nights of studying to fully understand the content. The interpretation of the Ordinance required us to possess knowledge of law so that each complaint could be treated fairly and respectfully. Once again, I would like to thank Board members for their contributions, the Registrar and the Assistant Registrar for their dedication, allowing the Board to make progress in all aspects of work. May the new office continue to advance and progress.

LUN Chi-wai

The term of office is three year which is not a long one, but it is still enough for understanding all the duties of the Board. Apart from disciplinary hearings and qualification recognition, we also kick started the review and draft of the revised “Code of Practice”.

Twenty years ago, I have asked a question: "What is the purpose of setting up the Board?" Twenty years later, after attending more than 50 meetings of different sizes, I got the answer in my mind whether the Board is useful or not. Some professions are regulated by own professional bodies. Social workers are regulated by the Board, a statutory body. Therefore, to know more about its purpose and functions, it is a must to understand the extent of power being authorized to the Board under the Ordinance and the restrictions imposed on the Board.

Personally, I hope that members of the next term can take up the task of reviewing the Code of Practice smoothly, and RSWs are invited to express their views proactively. I also took this opportunity to thank all appointed and elected members of this term for their efforts and their willingness to take up this public office for three years. At the same time, I would also like to thank the staff members of the Board office for their support to facilitate a smooth decision making process.

MA Kam-wah, Timothy

The last thing a Social Workers Registration Board member would like to see is...

I will have been a Board member for six years soon, it is worthwhile to look back and share my feelings. In the past six years, the two most memorable aspects I encountered are:

  1. 1. Quite a few RSWs committed minor crimes - members of the Board often have to deal with registration applications from RSWs. One of the questions asked is whether they have been convicted of crimes in the past. We are puzzled that many applicants had committed minor crimes such as cycling on the pavement or failure to comply with traffic signals. Although these crimes do not result in imprisonment, as someone serving the community and a role model, it is a bit disappointing.

  2. Respective higher education institution applying for social work degree courses - Seeing the stringent demand for and supply of social workers, many self-financed tertiary institutions offer social work programmes for thousands of DSE graduates. Many programmes are recognized through the qualification assessments conducted by the Assessment Teams under the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration of the Board. In the past six years, there were programmes that required regular reviews. The purpose of the review is to request the institutions to provide specific information and take up more responsibilities, such as in-depth planning, resource input, staff-student ratio, and facilities. Unfortunately, the review mechanism is often misunderstood by the institutions as creating barriers or delaying the applications. As a matter of fact, being a gatekeeper, the Board bears the responsibility in maintaining the professional conduct and service quality of social workers through professional training. I hope that the institutions do not misunderstand our intentions because the Board is accountable for the quality of professional services to the public.

SHIU Ka-chun

“Advancement precedes stagnation. On January 17, 2016, I became an elected member of the Board. Apart from joining as members of three committees, I am also elected as the convener of the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration. There is a lot of work which I should deal with due care. I would participate in the work of the Board proactively and facilitate the Board to make achievements even in a difficult environment.” These were my words right after being elected with 60% (3443 votes) votes by fellow workers.

Three years passed by in the blink of an eye, the expected amount of heavy workload (the document are stacked up to at least four inches high every time we have meetings) and the duly care required (it is inevitable to face tough situations at every meeting) all came true. To be able to fully step down, I would like to thank Board members for their reminders and cooperation, as well as the patience and hard work from the Board Office.

As a member of the Legislative Council and the Board, the two roles sometimes conflict with each other (fellow workers complaining the Board) and sometimes sparked a chemical reaction (pushing the government to modify the registration regulations). When I was running for the Board, I promised to only run for one term, will not seek re-election, and be worry-free, therefore today I am saying farewell to all my buddies and the Board Office.

Certainly worry-free, with blessings and applause only.

TSANG Kin-chiu

Time flies. In the blink of an eye, I have been elected as a Board Member for three years. At the time of election, I and the HKSWGU team, wrote in my election pledges that “No social worker would be de-registered due to their participation in social movement or political oppression”.  When I won the election, I wrote in the newsletter that “Amid turbulent times and social unrest, Hong Kong is inundated with contradiction, incredibility and injustice. Social workers have absolute responsibilities to strive for social justice which cannot be defied or even trampled by undemocratic regime.” Have we done it?

Looking back over the past three years, the discussions at the Board meetings often involves different values among members of conservative versus open, institutional/appointed versus elected/frontline. There were always wrestling during discussions. We have encountered a lot of complaints/follow-up cases. A significant number of cases are related to social movements and politics. The complaint case against me is one of them. Under this circumstance, some of the cases and my one were already settled, but there are still cases that are still being followed up or can be expected to happen. We will wait for your comments.

Thank you again for your trust. In the era with social unrest, we have to work in joint hand continuously and make every effort to uphold the core values of social work.

WONG Ka-ming

Time flies. Looking back over the past three years, I have experienced a fantastic journey. During my tenure, I have served as Honorary Secretary, Acting Convener of the Committee on Professional Conduct, and participated in the revision of the “Code of Practice”. This not only gave me the opportunity to contribute my ambitions, but also learned a lot of new knowledge and skills.

After three years, I am grateful for my decision to stand for the election and choose to go into the "establishment” and I have the opportunity to understand the constraints and the way out under the Ordinance. I truly believe that if we have mastered the crucial point and it is only a matter of timing for opportunity to have the changes.

In the past three years, I am very grateful to the staff members of the Board Office, the elected and appointed members for their mutual understanding and accommodation. In addition, I would like to thank different organizations such as the HKSWGU and the Reclaiming Social Work Movement for their coordination outside the Board. Our elected members can play effectively in monitoring, promoting and implementing "inside" the Board.

Looking forward, I sincerely hope that the new members in the new term will not forget to adhere to our motives in the first place and resolutely guard for each social worker and uphold the value of justice.

(The above comments are opinions of individual member, the Board takes no responsibility in their comments. )

Work Report

Brief financial audited accounts (April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018)

Operating Revenue – Registration, Renewal and Re-registration Fees $8,836,405
Other Revenues $310,620
Staff Cost ($4,207,099)
Depreciation of Property and Equipment ($481,451)
Other Operating Expenses ($2,599,739)
Operating Surplus $1,858,736
Surplus of the Year $1,858,736

Report on Promotional Work

During the period from March 2018 to September 2018, the Board visited the following institutions to introduce the duties of the Board to social work students:
  • Hong Kong Baptist University (Final Year): 78
  • Hong Kong Baptist University (Year One) 50
  • Hong Kong Community College, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Final Year): 40
  • The University of Hong Kong (Final Year): 100
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Final Year): 37
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Final Year): 27
  • Hong Kong College of Technology (Final Year): 72
  • City University of Hong Kong (Final Year): 40
  • The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Final Year): 3
  • Caritas Institute of Higher Education (Final Year): 150
  • Total Count of Participants: 597

Social Work Qualification Assessment

During the period from March to September 2018, the Board completed the following qualification assessment and qualification review exercises:

  • Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) in Social Work, HKCT Institute of Higher Education (Full-time) [Qualification Assessment]
  • Master of Social Sciences in Social Work, Hong Kong Baptist University (Full-time) [Qualification Assessment]
  • Higher Diploma in Social Work, Caritas Institute of Higher Education (Part-time) [Qualification Review]
  • Associate of Social Science in Social Work, The Community College of City University (Full-time and Part-time) [Qualification Review]
  • Bachelor of Social Work (Honours),  Gratia Christian College (Full-time) [Qualification Review]
  • Bachelor of Social Work, The University of Hong Kong (Full-time) [Qualification Review]
  • Master of Social Work, The University of Hong Kong (Full-time and Part-time) [Qualification Review]

Digitalized Newsletter

From this issue onwards, the newsletter published by the Board will be fully digitalized and sent to RSWs only via e-mail.  Should you require a printed copy, you can contact the Board office to request. 

Joint World Conference on Regulators of Social Workers

This April, the Board was invited by the Health and Social Care Professionals Council in Ireland to attend the Joint World Conference on Regulators of Social Workers held in Dublin on 2 July this year. The Board delegated the Registrar, Mr. LEE Wing-Po, to attend on its behalf. At the conference, representatives from regions including Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong shared their experiences and thoughts in regulating the social work practice in their home countries or regions. As the only Asian representative being invited, the Board treasured the privilege to participate and exchanged the thoughts with representatives from around the globe, so as to draw on overseas experience and review the local situations.

Encouraging the Use of the Online Registration System for Registration Renewal

To apply for registration renewal, fellow workers may choose to submit their application by post, fax or via the Online Registration System. Do take note that both the renewal form and registration fee must reach the Board Office before the submission deadline. There have been situations where fellow workers’ names were removed from the Register due to inadvertent failure by post or fax leading to delays or loss of the application, or missing renewal application form. We would like to take this opportunity to remind fellow workers on the following matters:

  1. Upon receipt of the renewal notice (three months before the registration due date), please process the renewal application at the earliest.
  2. Opt for the Online System to submit the renewal application form and pay the registration fee.
  3. Being a valid application, both the renewal application form and the renewal registration fee must reach the Board Office.
  4. If the application is submitted by post, please provide a few working days for delivery and ensure that full postage is paid.
  5. In case of disputes, fellow workers are required to provide documentation to prove that the renewal application form and the registration fee are received by the Board Office before the deadline.

Since the beginning of this year, the online credit card payment module has been added to the Online Registration System. It takes only minutes for fellow workers to submit the renewal application form and pay the fee at the same time. If you have forgotten your username or password, simply reset online and the system will resend the information to your registered email or registered address.


(As of 4 December 2018)

Gender distribution of RSWs

Male: 7014 (30.2%)
Female: 16180 (69.8%)
Total: 23194

Qualification of RSWs

Recognized Bachelor Degree: 15159 (65.4%)
Recognized Diploma/Associate Degree: 7948 (34.3%)
Others: 86 (0.3%)

Total: 22,207