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Australian Community Work Practice Guidelines set the standard for professionalism

ACWA Inc - Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Last month saw the release of the newly updated Australian community workers’ code of ethics and now we’re following it up with brand new practice guidelines for the profession. Together, these foundation documents lay out the professional and ethical standards expected of practitioners working in community and human services and needed for a nationally skilled workforce.

While the Code was updated to keep in line with contemporary practice, the practice guidelines are new and supersede the outdated practice standards. As with the code, these guidelines apply nationally to all community workers including those in intake, support, case work, crisis intervention, team management, community development and advocacy roles.

Eight guidelines make up the framework for practice and the indicators in the document will help readers identify when the competency has been adequately reached. ACWA has also developed an accompanying self-assessment tool that is a key part of ensuring the guidelines can be easily translated into daily practice.

The strong focus on practicality is led by the understanding that community workers will gradually build up their skills in the workplace, particularly in the transition from new graduate to experienced professional.

For students, these guidelines provide an understanding of the practice goals they will need to work towards. Students will not be expected to meet all the guidelines at once as course content, fieldwork placement and early workplace experience will also help foster these competencies.

We hope education providers will ensure that the skills and knowledge requirements outlined in the guidelines are introduced to students and specific guidelines like ethical practice and confidentiality are taught before fieldwork commences. To ensure graduates are work ready, the guidelines should be consulted during course review and development processes.

Practitioners of all skill levels can use the practice guidelines and take note of how they form and fit into their practice framework. The self-assessment tool has been designed specifically for workers; it encourages them to map their skills and identify gaps and training needs which can be addressed through planned professional development.

The practice guidelines are also a key resource for service providers and employers. The guidelines and indicators can be used as part of the recruitment process to ensure candidates have the necessary competencies. It’s also an essential resource for supervisors to distribute to staff during the performance review process or when planning staff professional development opportunities.

We encourage all professionals in the sector to download the Code of ethics and the Practice guidelines. Community services is a rapidly changing sector and keeping up to date with the latest good practice principles is essential.

The individual links to download the documents are below however, if you would like to share these resources with your colleagues and networks please direct them to the permanent ethics and standards page on our website that will be maintained: http://www.acwa.org.au/resources/ethics-and-standards.

Download the Australian Community Work Practice Guidelines
Download the self-assessment tool as a Word document
Download the self-assessment tool as a PDF file

If you missed it, you can also download the national Australian Community Workers' Code of Ethics.

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