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Issue 39 (4/2017)

Issue 39

Table of Contents

Chairperson's messages
Interview with the New Registrar
Work Report
In Memory of Mr. Hui Yin-fat
Summary of Annual meeting with registered social workers

Chairperson's messages

Mr. Lun Chi Wai

Moving into 2017, we have already started the second year of our tenure. A three-year period is not short but we should report our work progress so far and share the results with our social work colleagues. The three-year term is not long and we have to speed up.

Highlights of work in last year
The routine works of the Social Workers Registration Board (the Board), such as assessment of social work qualification and handling applications for registration, are indeed quite demanding and great efforts have to be put to grasp every detail for making informed decisions. By all means, the Board is a body to monitor the professional conduct of social workers and ensure their good quality. The Board is duty bound to handle complaints about the misconduct of registered social workers and its primary objective is to protect the service users in the society. The works are time-consuming and tough.

As explained in the last issue of the Newsletter, we have enhanced the transparency of the Board. Besides, we have kicked off a comprehensive review of the Board's "Principles, Criteria, and Standards for Recognising Qualifications in Social Work for Registration of Registered Social Workers". The document sets out the requirements for local tertiary institutions on providing social workers training programmes. It seems to be of concern solely to the tertiary institutions, but expectations and opinions of current registered social workers on their successors should also carry weight.

Future work plans
We are now also reviewing the Code of Practice. Before commencing a comprehensive consultation, we would first study the application of the Code of Practice and compare it with the other codes of practice in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, etc. It is expected that the first public consultation will take place by end of the year. Colleagues, please take note on it.

Last but not least about the administrative matters, we have found that there are rooms for improvement in the current procedures after we have been getting involved in the aforesaid routine work. Given some more times, we hope to further improve our efficiency.

Please stay tuned and monitor the work of our Board.

Lun Chi Wai

Interview with the New Registrar

Mr. Lee Wing Po

Personnel changes were announced in the 'Employee's Movement' column of the last issue of the Newsletter. In this issue, we have assigned a special correspondent to conduct a personal interview with the new Registrar, Mr. Lee Wing Po, to let the colleagues learn more about his background and his expectations on the works of the Board.

Correspondent:    Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Lee:     Coincidentally this is also a question I had answered during my job interview. By then I was obliged to offer an answer in the most formal manner. Here I would like to reply in a more relaxed mood. When I revealed my career move at the farewell dinner before I joined the Board, my ex-colleagues exclaimed if I was about to change my profession. I had to explain it was not but a move to a different sector, I would still be committing to registration, complaints handling and committee works, just the same as what I have been doing in the last 20 years in The Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers and The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers. It is just a switch from the insurance sector to the social welfare sector. This may be my last stop along my career path before I retire in the coming three to seven years.

Correspondent:    So you are a 'freshman' to the social welfare sector?
Lee:     Both "yes" or "no". When I was enrolled into the Faculty of Social Sciences of The University of Hong Kong, Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun was my personal tutor, and I was then also the research assistant of Dr Law Chi-kwong. At that time, my major, social administration, was newly developed by the Department of Social Work and that was then the second year the undergraduates could take it as a major. Upon graduation, regrettably no doors were opened me to get into the social welfare sector, and by chance I stepped into the logistic sector then walked into the insurance sector and engaged in a profession of committee work, regulatory and compliance. Now that I toddle into this office, I feel like I have returned to the very starting point with the "first heart" to embark on a new venture again. May I leverage on this opportunity to greet my teachers and classmates who still remember me: Hi, I'm back!

Correspondent:    What are the plans you have for this new post?
Lee:    I am both a Christian and a Liberal. I do admire and appreciate the humbleness of social workers to name themselves a social "worker" but not a social "engineer". I dare not hope for big achievement but am to hold a humble heart and to uphold the four "C" principles (Compliant, Cogent, Caring, and Cohesive) to fight against all odds and to bear the consequences. Hopefully when I stir, I am stirring up people for betterment with comfort but not stirring up nuisance with unrest.

The Correspondent: Lee Wing Po

Work Report
Disciplinary Committee Panel Briefing

The statute requires that when if a complaint is referred to the Board and disciplinary hearing is to be conducted, five members from the Disciplinary Committee Panel should be appointed to form a disciplinary committee. Members to this Disciplinary Committee Panel have been appointed with their three-year term starting from 16 January 2017 after their names are gazetted. To better prepare them in particular those newly appointed, the Board has organized on 24 February 2017 a briefing session for Members of the Panel. During the session, the Board's legal adviser explained the key procedures of disciplinary hearings and answered questions raised by the Members.

Disciplinary Committee Panel Briefing

Setting up the Taskforce on Review of Code of Practice

The Code of Practice for Registered Social Workers (the Code of Practice) and Guidelines to Code of Practice (the Guidelines) in use are the versions modified in January 2010. Along with social development, the social services and the needs of service users have changed as well. It is considered worth to gauge if there is any need for making corresponding amendments and the Committee on Professional Conduct has set up a task force to review the two documents and to submit amendment proposals to the committee. The members of the taskforce include Mr. WONG Ka-ming, Mr. LUN Chi-wai, Dr. LEUNG Chuen-suen, and two co-opted members, Dr. LAM Chiu Wan and Dr. CHENG Yuk Tin, Carl.

Review of the Principles, Criteria and Standards for Recognising Qualifications in Social Work for Registration of Registered Social Workers

The Principles, Criteria and Standards for Recognising Qualifications in Social Work for Registration of Registered Social Workers in use is the version modified in 2014. In order to accommodate the development of tertiary education and the change of social environment, Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration has started the reviewing work and collected opinions from different stakeholders since mid-October 2016, including registered social workers, tertiary institutions, professional consultants, social welfare agencies, professional social work associations, social work labour unions, service users, social work students, and so forth.

By the time of issuing this Newsletter, the committee has received a number of submissions. Focus groups will also be organized to collect opinions from service users later. After considering different opinions, the committee will draft the amendment proposal for the Board to consider and will launch another round of consultation.

Report of Promotional Works
From December 2016 to the end of February 2017, staff of the Board has visited the following tertiary institutions to introduce the work of the Board:

Hong Kong College of Technology    (Year 1): 70
Community College of City University (Year 1): 70
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Year 1): 42
The University of Hong Kong (Final year): 47
Hong Kong Baptist University (Final year): 48
Total number of participants: 277

Salary tax allowance for registration and renewal expenses

If being registered is one of the requirements of their employment, the registered social workers may apply for deduction of income tax against the paid-up registration fees and renewal fees. Registered social workers are advised to apply for tax deduction in the same financial year of the payment of fees and keep the Certification of Registration or the registration card, whichever appropriate, and the receipt for audit.

Receiving visitors

From December 2016 to the end of February 2017, the Board has received the following group visits:

  • 安徽省社會工作和社會治理赴港培訓班
  • 台灣衛生福利部

Updates of the Board's Website

The Board has officially launched the brand new website since January 2017. The new website fulfills the WCAG 2.0 Criteria – Level AA of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It can adjust to different zooming ratios of electronic devices, including computer and mobile phone, thus bringing users a refreshing feel.

Invitation for Contribution of Articles

To encourage RSWs' participation in the Newsletter, and to provide opportunity for colleagues to express their views on social work profession, colleagues are welcome to contribute articles. Please note the following rules when doing so:

  1. The Board regularly publishes Newsletter in every April and October. Colleagues are welcome to contribute articles to express their opinions.
  2. Articles should be related to the functions of the Board or the social work profession, otherwise, the Board has discretion to decide whether to publish them or not.
  3. No articles represent the position of the Board and authors should take sole responsibility for their views.
  4. Authors should provide their real name, contact address, email and contact number. Authors may request for not publishing their real name.
  5. Articles could be written in Chinese (within 2,000 words) or in English (within 1,500 words).
  6. The Board is with full discretion in deciding on publishing an article or not.
  7. The Board reserves its right of editing an article.
  8. No any form of remuneration will be provided by the Board.

In Memory of Mr. Hui Yin-fat

Former director of Hong Kong Council of Social Service and Legislative Council members of three terms, Mr. Hui Yin-fat, passed away on 7 December 2016 at the age of 80.

The establishment of the current statutory social worker registration system was strongly supported by Mr. Hui. Early in the 1980s, Mr. Hui had already participated in drafting, consultating and planning of the social worker registration system. In 1991, Hong Kong Social Welfare Personnel Registration Council was established, and Mr. Hui was the chairperson, launching the first voluntary social worker registration system in Hong Kong. As a Legislative Council member of the Social Welfare functional constituency, he then started to draft the private bill of the Social Workers Registration Ordinance (the Ordinance), which turned out to be the basis of the public bill the government submitted to the Legislation Council. After the Ordinance was in effect in June 1997, Hong Kong Social Welfare Personnel Registration Council completed its historical mission. Yet, Mr. Hui did not stop there. In the transitional period between the passing of the Ordinance and the establishment of the Board, Mr. Hui was appointed as the member of the Board. With years of experiences, Mr. Hui contributed a lot for the board with his precious opinions. In the past few decades and in different positions, Mr. Hui spared no effort in leading and uniting the industry, initiating and implementing voluntary social worker registration system. He also started legislative work for the statutory social worker registration system, setting a solid foundation for the current Ordinance.

The Board would like to show our gratitude and commemoration to the contribution of Mr. Hui to the social work field in the past few decades, especially his efforts in the social worker registration system. We as well would like to offer our deepest condolences to his family.

  Mr. Hui Yin-fat (Taken in the member meeting of Hong Kong Social Welfare Personnel Registration Council in 1995)
Taken in the member meeting of Hong Kong Social Welfare Personnel Registration Council in 1995.

Mr. Hui Yin-fat was the officiating guest for the opening ceremony of the office of the Board.
Mr. Hui Yin-fat was the officiating guest for the opening ceremony of the office of the Board.


(As of April 2017)
(1) Registered Social Workers
Gender distribution of RSWs
Male: 6,346
Female: 14,966
Total: 21,312
Qualification of registered social workers
Recognized Degree: 13,705
Recognized Diploma: 7,511
Others: 96
Total: 21,312

Post Distribution of registered social workers
Social Workers Post: 14,469
Non-social Workers Post: 6,843
Total: 21,312

Number of complaints received since the establishment of the Board: 450
Number of disciplinary inquiries conducted since the establishment of the Board: 88

(3)Statistics on usage of Online System for the Voluntary Continuing Professional Development Scheme for Registered Social Workers (VCPD Scheme)

Number of RSWs having activated their user accounts:1,387
Number of RSWs having CPD records in their account*:4,462
*Given that the CPD records can be input by RSWs or CPD organizers, the number of RSWs having CPD records is generally greater than the number of RSWs having activated their user accounts.
Each RSW has been provided login user name and password for login to the online system for the VCPD Scheme, you are welcome to login and update your personal CPD records. For those who have forgotten their usernames and/or passwords, please contact the Board Office for re-issue by submitting the online form of "Forgot Your Username / Password" on the main page of the online system.

Summary of Annual meeting with registered social workers

In recent years, Hong Kong has encountered different blows and changes in all aspects, including the political, economic, societal arenas and livelihood. As registered social workers, it is worth to explore on how we should go along with service users as co-partners, understand and respond to their needs in this diversified and changeable society. Given this, the Board held a meeting with the theme of "Challenges Faced by Registered Social Workers under New Social Environment' on 11 November 2016. Professor HO Sik-ying, Petula from the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, and Hon. Shiu Ka-chun, LegCo member from the social welfare sector, were invited as the guest speakers to share their views with the audience. The following are the highlights of the speech for colleagues who have missed the meeting:

Going beyond issues that should anger God and mortal to "overlooked  justices" in the community.

Professor Petula S.Y. Ho
Department of Social Worker and Social Administration
The University of Hong Kong

Professor Petula Ho

As a social worker, we will always stand up for the rights of the disadvantaged and voice out for issues what that would anger Gods and mortals. However, we will not always be as forthcoming when it comes to revealing the hidden injustices in our society.. Professor Ho quoted the example of gender parity issues in universities. According to some statistics, no matter when, which university or what subject it is, the higher the position, the lower the ratio of women being employed. In general, the university suggested that due to conventional social values, women are bound up in the role of being mothers and caregivers. But Professor Ho pointed out that the family status for women is only one factors and/or one of the ways to explain away the issues involved. In fact,  in the current job promotion and review system, the heavy reliance on numbers have made it difficult for people to recognize the achievement of qualitative research projects  that address the concern the interests of the minority groups. Therefore it is more difficult for scholars specializing in gender and diversity issues to get promoted. Under such a potentially unfair system, the interests of minorities are indirectly neglected as well. However, when someone voices this out, and fight for their rights, they maybe seen as trouble makers. It is not always easy to voice out neglected problems and deal with hidden injustice.

Similar situations can be found in the social welfare sector. Recently, sexual harassment of mentally challenged people in residential care homes has raised controversies in the society. As social workers, we certainly can show our rage along with the general public. For noncontroversial topics, including how to push  the government to modify its policies, improve service qualities of residential care homes and request for more human resources, we, as social workers, have no problems proposing different solutions. However, when sensitive topics are involved, like the sexual needs of mentally challenged or disabled people, issues of their ages of consent for sex, social workers have to take into consideration  traditional Chinese thoughts that are still prevalent in society as well as the culture of their organizations before they can make a stand. Yet, for service users, these topics are important to their sexual well-being and survival and therefore worthy of discussing.

In the society nowadays, homosexual, bisexual, sex workers and/or transsexual people do exist in our community. They have their needs for emotional support and community facilities. Unfortunately, social workers often face a lot of obstacles when they bring up the discussion of such topics in their organisations or in society, let alone pointing out the shortcomings of the services provided by their own organizations. As a result, the needs of many minorities cannot be communicated to the public, causing their rights to be neglected by the society.

Besides minority rights, political issues may also be taboo among social workers. To avoid affecting the reputation and image of their organisations, social workers always think that they should stay politically neutral. Therefore, when they are working with other organisations, even if the project is not directly related to politics, we may have an invisible screen before us in the way we assess background of the organisation, or the personal political stances of individual social workers.

Professor Ho is glad to see that in the "Code of Practice for Registered Social Workers", many articles concerning fighting for social justice are included. She encouraged young social workers to pay attention to various issues in the society when they have fewer burdens in life, with a view to surpass "the lowest common denominator approach", and to attend to neglected issues and "overlooked injustice" in interpersonal relationships and in public matters.

Professor Petula Ho and Mr. Lun Chi Wai

Looking at the new social formation through new Legislative Council culture

Legislative Council member (Functional Constituency - Social Welfare)
Mr. Shiu Ka-chun

Mr. Shiu Ka Chun

The term of office of the current Legislative Council has not yet started; yet, there have been conflicts until this moment of sharing. New issues keep coming up, revealing a new Legislative Council culture. The Legislative Council is a miniature of the society; therefore the change of culture in the Legislative Council reflects the change of social movement in today's society. As a new comer of the Legislative Council, he used the challenges he faced in the past one month since he became a Member as examples to illustrate how social workers should act under the rapid changes of social formation.

Mr. Shiu suggested that the current society is under the social formation of "Old within New", meaning while the society is under new formation, old ideologies still affect the public. Like social movements, if a social movement is initiated by old ideologies, there would be many discussions on which actions are effective and which are not. For work inside Legislative Council, when Mr. Shiu used the traditional way, shouting slogans, to express his opinions in the Legislative Council, he immediately faced a lot of criticisms on the Internet, saying that his action is just a waste of time and is ineffective. Mr. Shiu thinks it is easy to be wise after the event, and such bottom-up logic is very dangerous, as it cannot prove that using other protesting methods can guarantee a better result.

Under the new social formation of "Old within New", Mr. Shiu stated that many people have "Complicated feelings, Simple minds". From comments on social media platforms, Mr. Shiu comes to a conclusion that many people act on instincts nowadays. When he, as a lawmaker, does something, most of the responses are expressions of feelings, like "ridiculous", "waste of time", or suggestions on how he should do instead. However, among these complicated feelings, only several people are willing to understand thoroughly and think cautiously about the issue, resulting in a big difference between feelings and cognitions, as well as a result-oriented social formation.

So, what challenges will social workers face under the aforesaid new social formation? According to Mr. Shiu, under such new social formation, the service modes, especially those for community work, would face numerous challenges. Traditionally, social workers tend to develop community work in a meticulous and detailed manner, from getting in touch with the case, developing trust, organizing network to initiating protest. However, under the current social formation, the younger generation tends to "let everyone's ideas blossom and decide our own fate". They do not need a leader, or an organization. All they need is a platform to freely transform their ideas on the issues they concern into real actions. After the issue is resolved, they can leave the platform immediately and be free from any boundaries.

While the old social formation is diminishing, and new social formation is emerging, the value of social workers would decrease if they do not change. Mr. Shiu pointed out that such "existential anxiety" for social workers actually does have a positive impact, as it allows social workers to reflect, and re-position their roles as social workers, thus modifying their service modes according to the changes of the society. For instance, social workers can try to break through the traditional framework, and group citizens of different sectors and with different concerns by a single topic.

It is an undeniable fact that social formations are changing rapidly, and the needs of service users are also changing. Therefore, while social workers stick firmly to their core values, they should also keep up with the trends, always reflect with an open mind and strive for changes, so that enhanced services can be provided to the public.

Mr. Shiu Ka Chun and Mr. Lun Chi Wai

(The above guest speeches do not represent the stance of the Board.)