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. The Code of ethics is current as of January 2017 and the new Practice guidelines from February 2017.

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.

To help support community workers navigate some of the issues in the Code, 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, are accessible via the members' only area of the website and restricted to members. You can learn more about membership here

Please note: ACWA maintains copyright of the Code however, you may distribute and republish it freely as long as it is attributed to us: Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA) with the full document title and, if possible, a link to this page.

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. The guideline 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

In a similar fashion to the Practical Ethics Series, ACWA has developed a selection of information sheets designed to support practitioners demonstrate professionalism in their everyday work. To launch the Professional Practice Series the first information sheet, Professional and ethical use of personal social media accounts, is being made accessible to all while future releases in the series will be restricted to members only.