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Code of ethics and Practice guidelines

It is a requirement of all professions that its members adhere to ethical and professional practice guidelines. In the case of community work practitioners this is fundamental because we work with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups of people in our society.

As the relevant professional body, ACWA sets the ethical and practice benchmarks for community workers, in accordance with industry, employer and public expectations. These professional standards are presented in the Australian community workers’ code of ethics and the Australian community work practice guidelines.

While these two documents can be downloaded individually, they are not designed to be standalone. Working to a set of clear guidelines as well as within a strong ethical framework is essential in our sector.

The code of ethics and practice guidelines are nationally applicable and ACWA members can be held accountable for breaches to the Code. As foundation documents for the Association, and the sector at large, they are reviewed periodically.

Code of ethics

A code of ethics is an explicit document that lays down the expectations of a professional working in the field.

The Australian Community Workers Code of Ethics sets the tenor for exemplary community work practice and is the benchmark for all human service practitioners. The founders of the Association first developed a code of ethics to guide members in their practice. The concept of an ethical framework for practice is as relevant today as it was in its inception.

ACWA members and registered community workers agree to the Code of Ethics and demonstrate adherence to the code in every aspect of their professional life.

Preferred citation for the Code: Australian Community Workers Association (2017) Australian Community Workers Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.acwa.org.au/resources/ACWA_Code_of_ethics_Jan_2017.pdf

Practice guidelines and assessment tools

The Australian Community Work Practice Guidelines are designed to complement the Code of Ethics and provide a guide to all community work practitioners. Previously known as Practice Standards, this document includes indicators and is matched with a self-assessment tool for practitioners to work through and identify skill gaps and training needs. A supervisor-supported assessment tool is also available and has been designed for a practitioner and supervisor to work through together, making it ideal for performance monitoring or reviews.

The eight Guidelines are:
  • Ethical practice
  • Provision of service and supports
  • Confidentiality in the workplace
  • The regulatory framework
  • Diversity
  • The workplace
  • Professional development
  • Professional standing
Download the self-assessment tool as a PDF file
Download the self-assessment tool as a Word document

Download the supervisor-supported assessment tool as a PDF file
Download the supervisor-supported assessment tool as a Word document

Preferred citation for the Guidelines: Australian Community Workers Association (2017) Australian Community Work Practice Guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.acwa.org.au/resources/ACWA-Practice-guidelines-Feb-2017.pdf

Combined guide (printer-friendly with larger text)

The Australian Community Workers Ethics and Good Practice Guide is the printer-friendly version of the Code and Guidelines. It combines these two foundation documents into one pdf and also features larger text for ease of reading.

Preferred citation for the Guide: Australian Community Workers Association (2017) Australian Community Workers Ethics and Good Practice Guide. Retrieved from http://www.acwa.org.au/resources/ACWA-Ethics-and-good-practice-guide.pdf

Employer Code of Practice

The Employer Code of Practice is a framework that can be adopted by employers and followed through with concrete polices and procedures. The Code has been designed to be publicly displayed in a work space thereby increasing the organisation's visible commitment to staff.

Download a generic version of the Code
Download a customisable version of the Code (insert your organisation's name)

Additional resources

To help support community workers navigate some of the issues in the Code of Ethics, ACWA has produced a series of information sheets collectively known as ACWA's Practical Ethics Series. To launch the Practical Ethics Series the first information sheet, Addressing unprofessional or unethical behaviour in a colleague, has been made available to members and non-members alike. The rest of the series, however, is accessible via the members' only area of the website and restricted to members.

In a similar fashion, ACWA has developed a selection of information sheets, known as the Professional Practice Series, to support practitioners demonstrate professionalism in their everyday work, in line with the Practice Guidelines. The first information sheet, Professional and ethical use of personal social media accounts, is accessible to all while future releases in the series will be restricted to members only. You can learn more about membership here.