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Issue 47 (4/2021)

Table of Contents

  • Review and public consultation on Code of Practice for Registered Social Workers
  • Main Focus
  • Work Report
  • Statutory Interpretation: FAQ regarding the Report of Charges and Convictions from RSWs
  • Social Work Day 2020
  • In memory of former Board member Mr. LAM Ka-tai
  • CPD courses and activities for RSWs

    Review and public consultation on Code of Practice for Registered Social Workers

    The purpose of publishing the "Code of Practice" and "Guidelines on Code of Practice" by the Board is to provide guidelines for the professional ethics of social workers, protect the well-being and interests of service users and the public, and at the same time strengthen the public's trust and confidence towards the social work profession. In order to accommodate the changes in the social work field, the social environment and the expectations towards social workers, the Board has initiated a revision exercise in recent years, and set up a "Task Force on Revision of Code of Practice" under the "Committee on Professional Conduct" to review the above two documents, and to recommend a revised version. The Board has also conducted a public consultation from July to December last year to collect opinions from the field and service users.

    During the consultation period, the Board collected a total of 110 written opinions. In addition, 76 persons participated in a total of 5 online consultation sessions, in which many valuable opinions were collected.

    The opinions collected can be summarized as the following major opinions:

    • Objection or hesitation to agree to the merging of the "Code of Practice" and the "Guidelines on Code of Practice"
    • Needs to consider carefully towards the suggestion of expanding the definition of service user to include people who “has engaged to receive social work service”
    • The wording of "moral and political values" may cause misunderstandings or doubts
    • Concerns about the proposed amendments related to the part of professional development

    The Board is actively considering the opinions from all parties and expects to conduct the second round consultation between mid-May and the end of August this year. In addition to collecting written opinions and holding online consultation sessions, we will resume physical consultation sessions for having more direct communications with colleagues if public health conditions allow.

    consultation session consultation session

    Main Focus 

    1. Preparing the election for Board Members

    According to the Ordinance, the Board is composed of 15 members with tenure of office for 3 years of each term, of which 8 members must be registered social workers and are elected by registered social workers. The tenure of office of members of this term will end on 15 January 2022, and the Board has begun the preparation work for the election of members for the next term.
    The Board has reviewed the "Election Rules" and slightly updated some operational arrangements before the election work is to commence. You may refer to the latest version of the "Election Rules" in the Board's website.

    2. Publishing the latest revision of the Principles, Criteria and Standards 

    One of the important functions of the Board is to set and review the qualification standards for registration as registered social workers. Therefore, the "Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration" is delegated to review the principles and criteria for recognizing social work qualifications. After a detailed review and two rounds of consultation, the Board has just completed the revision of the "Principles, Criteria and Standards for Recognising Qualifications in Social Work". The latest version was officially announced on 15 April this year, with the effective date set at 1 September 2022. You may download it on the Board's website.

    3. Appointment of Assessment Panel for the new term

    At present, the social work qualifications recognized by the Board for registration must undergo qualification recognition assessment by an independent assessment team. The term of the previous assessment panel expired in January of this year. After public nomination and consideration, the Board has appointed a new term of office until the end of August 2024. The list of members has been uploaded on our website.

    Work Report 

    1. Interface updates of the Online Registration System

    To cope with the trend of using mobile devices to access the Internet, the Board has recently updated the interface of the online registration system, so that the font size and interface layout can be automatically adapted to devices with different screen sizes. Colleagues can now use different devices at anytime and anywhere to submit renewal application and update their personal information.

    2. Update of Rules in respect of Pre-hearing Procedures for Disciplinary Proceedings and Rules in respect of Disciplinary Proceedings

    In order to perform its statutory functions more effectively on handling disciplinary offenses of RSWs, the Board has updated the above-mentioned rules at the beginning of this year. For details, please refer to the relevant webpage.

    3. Qualification Recognition Review

    The following are the social work qualifications that are undergoing recognition review in the 2020/2021 academic year:
    • Hong Kong Nang Yan College of Higher Education: Bachelor of Social Work (Honours)
    • Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Sha Tin) of the Vocational Training Council: Higher Diploma in Social Work
    • Hong Kong Shue Yan University: Bachelor of Social Work (Hons)
    • Caritas Institute of Higher Education: Higher Diploma in Social Work
    • Hong Kong Baptist University: Master of Social Sciences in Social Work

    4. Promotion Work

    During the period from September 2020 to March 2021, staff of the Board Office introduced the work of the Registration Board to the social work students of the following institutions through online or physical visits:
    • University of Hong Kong(Year 1): 130
    • UOW College Hong Kong (Year 1): 50
    • Hong Kong Nang Yan College of Higher Education (Year 1): 35
    • HKCT Institute of Higher Education (Year 1): 32
    • Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Sha Tin) of the Vocational Training Council (Year 1): 75
    • Hong Kong Baptist University (Year 1/Final Year): 110
    • Hong Kong Community College of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Year 1): 80
    • Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Year 1/Final Year): 80
    • Gratia Christian College (Final Year): 15
    • The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Final Year): 65
    • Total Participants:672
    Statutory Interpretation: FAQ regarding the Report of Charges and Convictions from RSWs
    Ms. LAM Tze-yan

    Concerning Social Worker Registration Ordinance s.24, registered social workers should report charges and convictions to the Board as soon as reasonably practicable after their statutory declaration. The following are frequently asked questions that you might find helpful in deciding what to report to the Board.


    (1) Do you need to report fixed penalty notices (定額罰款通知書) as a charge (起訴)?

    In a nut shell, if you have paid the penalty (for contraventions like littering, illegal parking and smoking in public places etc.), there is no need to report to the Board of the notice. Please see the details below.

    If served a notice to pay fixed penalty, it is an opportunity offered you to discharge the alleged contravention. Payment would exonerate you from being formally summonsed. It is submitted that a notice to pay fixed penalty for alleged contravention is absolvable from prosecution, if paid, would not constitute a charge. You need not report to the Board if you have paid.

    The 5 major ordinances(Note 1) governing fixed penalty contravention/offences (the said ordinances) uniformly state that upon reasonable cause to believe a person contravenes the law, there is an opportunity to discharge his liability of that contravention by payment of a fixed penalty (or words to that effect). (s.15 Cap 237, s.3 Cap 240, s.3 Cap570, s.3 Cap 600, and s.8 Cap 611). S.7 Cap 611 goes further to say contravention under the ordinance does not constitute an offence.
    Note 1:
    • Fixed Penalty (Traffic Contraventions) Ordinance(Cap. 237)
    • the Fixed Penalty (Criminal Proceedings) Ordinance (Cap. 240)
    • the Fixed Penalty (Public Cleanliness Offences) Ordinance (Cap. 570)
    • the Fixed Penalty (Smoking Offences) Ordinance (Cap. 600)
    • the Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Ordinance (Cap. 611)

    It could be inferred from the term “alleged” contravention on the various penalty notices of the said ordinances, that the notice is a notice of particulars of “alleged” (涉嫌/指稱) contravention. Pending the seizing of the opportunity of exoneration from prosecution by payment, one could be absolved from prosecution or conviction for scheduled offences. As payment stops formal prosecution, we submit that, if you have paid the fixed penalty, you do not need to report to the Board about the fixed penalty notices as there would be no formal prosecution or charge.

    However, if you do not pay the fixed penalty and do not institute legal proceedings to challenge the penalty notices, you will be first given a demand notice and then followed by a summons. At this point of receiving a summons, you would have already been charged for the offence, as a summons is a command or order by a magistrate in writing directed to an accused person requiring that he attend before a magistrate to answer a charge at a time set out in the summons. You would need to report the summons/charge to the Board as soon as practical. Even though you may have paid the fixed penalty subsequently.

    (2) Do you need to report O.N.E. Bind Over (Offer No Evidence Bind Over) (不提證供起訴) (“BO”)

    You can only obtain a BO after you are being charged with a criminal offence in the magistrates’ courts. In other words, you should have already reported to the Board about the charge before BO is granted by the magistrates. Nevertheless, you are not convicted of the criminal offence.


    (3) Do you need to report convictions under Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (CAP.297) (“ROO”)?

    In a nutshell, you must report all convictions to the Board. Under normal circumstances, the ROO does not affect the duty of the RSWs to report convictions. The explanation is as follows:

    In general, pursuant to ROO s.2(1) & (1A) & (1B), for convicted persons who previously have never been convicted in Hong Kong before, but later convicted of an offence, and sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding 3 months; or to paying a fine not exceeding $10,000, do not need to disclose that conviction after a period of 3 years without being convicted in any offences.

    But there are several exceptions. Registering or continue to be registered as a social worker is one such exception. According to s.4(1)(c) of ROO, non-disclosure regarding offences does not apply to proceedings relating to a person's suitability to be registered under law which includes registering as a social worker under Cap 505.

    (4) To continue with Question (3), the ROO generally does not apply to the registration of social workers. What about the convictions related to the fixed fines?

    In some specific circumstances, the ROO non-disclosure protection can be applied to the registration of scial workers. For example, the payment absolvable fixed penalty contravention under the said ordinances cited in question (1) above. This is because payment of fixed or additional penalties “is not a conviction” per ROO s.2(3). Furthermore, non-disclosure of payment is protected by ROO (s.2(1B)(a))

    But other fixed penalty contraventions not absolvable by payment, such as providing false information under the said ordinances, should still be reported for the reasons described in question (3).

    To recapitulate, save for the narrow category of fixed penalties in the said fixed penalty ordinances which are absolvable by payment and which are “not conviction” under ROO, all convictions should be reported to the Board.

    (5) What kinds of documents should be submitted to the Board and the way of obtaining the legal documents from the court?

    In criminal proceedings, persons charged with a criminal offence will receive brief facts and a charge sheet or a summons (if it has been lost, you can apply to the police or judicial authority for a re-issuance), which should be submitted to the Board. Minute of proceedings, certificate of trial, judgment, reasons for verdict and reasons for sentences should also be submitted to the Board and all the aforementioned documents can be obtained by writing to the Court.

    (English version prevails over Chinese version if there is any discrepancy.)

    Article contributed by Social Work Day (Hong Kong) 2020 
    社工日(香港)2020:「疫情無礙同行 ‧ 科技增添連繫」

    「2020世界社工日」的主題為「宣揚人類關係的重要」(Promote the Importance of Human Relationships)。「世界社工日」是由國際社會工作者聯會發起,定於每年3月的第3個星期二,並於每年按當時的社會環境和發展訂定主題,在全球宣傳社會工作者的共同信息,亦藉此一同為各地專業社會工作者所作的貢獻致意。此外,世界各地的社工團體透過特定主題,促進社工們交流各地如何應對各種的社會挑戰,並增進社會大眾對社會工作專業的關注。


    過去一年,香港社會面對前所未有的挑戰,在疫情的衝擊下,更導致人與人之間產生隔膜、信任關係進一步受到動搖、社會與個人亦遭受不同程度的創傷,對社工業界及市民來說亦是不容易的一年。因應此社會環境,籌委會以「疫情無礙同行 ‧ 科技增添連繫」為本年社工日(香港)的主題。籌委會利用社交媒體平台,分階段推出收集「一人一社工故事」、「社工的抗逆日記:社工是#______」活動項目。活動邀請了社工、社工系學生和服務使用者分享社工在抗疫期間所做的「好人好事」,從而肯定社工的努力和貢獻,並再思社工角色、價值與定位。上述活動已於2020年5月舉行,並於同年12月中圓滿結束。


    social work day 2021




    Facebook: 社工日 香港 Social Work Day HK
    APP: 社工日香港

    In memory of former Board member Mr. LAM Ka-tai 
    Mr. LAM Ka-tai, former Board Member, passed away on 30 January 2021. All members of the Board and staff of Board Office deeply regret to it and would like to extend our deep condolences to the family of Mr. Lam.

    CPD courses and activities for RSWs 


    (as at 15/4/2021)

    Total Number of RSWs:25,651

    Gender Distribution

    Male:7,915 (30.85%)
    Female:17,736 (69.14%)

    Qualification for Registration

    Recognized bachelor degree or above:17,162 (66.9%)
    Recognized diploma:8,414 (32.97%)
    Others:75 (0.28%)

    Statistics on Complaint Cases (since establishment)

    Total Complaint Cases received:675 
    Total Cases for Disciplinary Inquiry:142 
    Total Established Cases:35 

    Note:As some cases are still in the preliminary stage or disciplinary proceedings, the above figures are not expressed in proportion.

    Articles contributed by RSWs 
    (We have received 3 articles from registered social workers. The content of the following articles is solely the author's personal opinion and does not represent any position of the Board. The language of the article is published according to the original manuscript, no translated version is provided.)

    Should Social Worker/Counsellor take close friend/relative cases?
    Sham Sau Sing

    Rationale: Even if there is a rule on the topic….

    Rules do not dissolve issues even if they resolve situations: 
    1. family law cannot truly comfort divorce parties especially children who are the prime victims; 
    2. aboriginal forest wood cutters arrested when they cut wood after the government sold the forest to wealthy migrants (vs aboriginal) ; 
    3. grand-parents arrested for leaving the grand-children alone to buy household food, as the kids parents had to work for a living. 
    Can law in essence fairly accord the guilt and totally prevent or fix the issue fundamentally?

    Possibilities of comparable scenarios to the topic: 
    1. General Practitioners whose parents or children in sickness, should they treat them (when other resources are available)?
    2. Pastors and Ministers, may they do counselling on their brothers and sisters who they know for considerable long time and in same community, as they seek specific Pastor and Minister help?
    3. In remote place, in small community, especially when professionals tend to seek country life in small community and remote place, may they do counselling when the need emerges?
    4. More….  

    Essentials in Counselling (can consider more)
    Two fundamental elements: Consent and Confidentiality
    Additional consideration: knowledge, skills and attitude of the Social Worker/Counsellor

    Simulated Scenario:
    Next time when my endearing one falls down and hurt on a tennis court. I say: sorry, darling, I cannot treat your wound, the rule says that I am not allowed to, let me call another healer, we may not be sure on how the treatment is, but we have to count on it. 

    Discussion Pack: 
    It is not law, rules that resolves and comfort dispute of which the present key topic may be one.  Besides, who deservedly state some rule and to what functions whoever serve?

    Can we instead immediately care on children of divorce. Can we see to the best interests of wood cutters who commit crimes when make a living by doing their prime job since birth. Can we share the pain and agony of the grand-parents who promise to care grand-kids, and now guilt laden to fail their promise by shopping for family food in place of the parents? 

    Is it care, concern and rebuild trust with respect are more crucial to reinstate human dignity and love, instead of priming cold-blooded punishment to allow the devil at laugh to sever and divide us?

    Medical doctors and pastors are at the forefront to do their mission in care and restore harmony or at least treat the wounds, should the closeness jeopardize and cast them guilt or leave them ponder at the sufferings of someone they endearingly know? 

    What then, also, is left for Social Worker/Counsellor to assume their role and function in the same token of dispute in question? Given confidentiality must be kept whatsoever without excuse, consent is all that becomes paramount. More precisely, is full informed consent, to be radically questioned and checked from time to time, that consent is there for the Social Worker/Counsellor and Client to walk together. Often times it is not easy, hitherto the line to opt counselling by experienced personnel in this topic is superb high but not impossible.

    The last but not least quality to discuss is the knowledge, skills and attitude of the Social Worker/Counsellor. Essentially it is all the same basic elements to critically examine persistently and consistently for practice, only demand the practice to stringent contested threshold on ethics, but not impossible.

    Given the ethical standard and mechanism is recognized and respected, it is left for honesty, integrity and dignity in human concern to how the predicament that the client endorse, is walked through in the co-journey; trusted to the agency choice of client with full informed consent and confidentiality abided to in the process. 

    It is invited for discussion:
    Social Workers/Counsellors are invited to take close friend/relative cases for single one essential mission: best interests of the person; and

    Social Worker/Counsellor gears for the integral vision – to help the person to help oneself.

    ~ 身為一名康復服務前線社工的一份心志









    2019年12月香港出現首宗2019冠狀病毒病(下簡稱COVID-19)確診感染個案,病毒席捲全城及全世界,直至本文執筆(2021年3月中) COVID-19對香港社會及其他國家的影響尚未平復;本文是從個人角度,分享退休、校園進修,和參與小型義工團體在COVID-19影響下經驗;雖然受困於香港社會新常態下,但憑積極正向態度,掌握危中有機,克服逆境求存。




    2000年遂利用公餘建構一個關於自閉症的網站 (下簡稱A),成立初期目的主要搜索及整理互聯網中文,及翻譯英語世界浩瀚的自閉譜系領域知識,嘗試探索和研究在工作上,如何應用具實證為本和有效干預方法,為有需要自閉譜系服務使用者提供適切和優質服務。

    而正式與自閉譜系義務工作結緣,始於2008年A按香港社團條例註册,聯同三數位同工及家長,組成一個非牟利小義工團體,成員不多於十人,專注自閉譜系事工;串聯粵港兩地若干院校、家長組、和服務團體等,每年響應聯合國<世界關顧自閉日>(每年4月2日) ,舉辦培訓課程、研討會、社區教育活動、和支援廣州某民辦服務中心員工培訓及家長交流等活動;促進粵港兩地對自閉譜系人士及家庭的認識、關顧和支援。


    2017年退休後除延續A的義務工作外;因應社會對自閉譜系專業培訓需要,成立一間微企教育顧問公司 (下簡稱B),乃一人公司兼類似自僱社工,以商業模式營運培訓課程、研討會、及提供自閉譜系相關服務。此舉一方面豐富個人義工生涯,又能滿足社會日益急增服務需求;另外亦把營運盈餘撥供A繼續推動非牟利義務工作。事緣退休前A主要營運經費,主要依賴筆者捐獻約每月十分之一全職薪金以維持運作,退休後糧盡,得另覓其他穩定財政來源,以維持A的義務工作項目。



    統計在 2018年中至2020年底18個月期間,專業培訓課程累積盈餘約80萬元,全數撥充作社區教育、大學生培訓、及支援粵港兩地家長組和服務機構等項目。這正體驗小型組織和管理學理論的「小而美」及「專而精」的原則。而該80萬元盈餘的四分之三,就是在COVID-19期間舉辦網課所累積而來。


    退休後個人生涯規劃另一重點項目,是於2018年秋季重返香港教育大學,進修教育碩士(主修特殊教育) 二年制兼讀課程,以增強初創微企服務質素和水平,同時探索培育自閉譜系學童成長的有效方法。



    社會動盪校園內無可避免煙硝味濃,但兼讀制課程研究生大部份是在職及外地生組成,大抵只聞風聲雨聲讀書聲,忙於家事(找口罩、消毒液、照顧居家學習小孩) ,難得兼顧國事天下事。再加上在COVID-19新常態下,同學們都居家學習,各有各忙;就算有小組功課,也是網上相見,閒時忙於穿梭雲端知識世界,撰寫論文。

    吾以六旬之齡退休進修,心無雜念,也無太多俗務,潛心修業,遂以優異成績畢業(Distinction) ,連續二年獲院長榮譽奬狀,為創業打好基礎,也為後輩們樹立一個積極求學的身教榜樣。畢業後留校擔任項目計劃研究助理,繼續探索華人社會自閉譜系教育理論和技術。





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