The Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) was set up in 1971 as a professional body to represent social workers residing and working in Singapore. The mission of SASW is:
- to advance Social Work as a profession and foster a high standard of Social Work in the country;
- to participate in activities which promote Social Work and social welfare on national and international level;
- to participate in and provide community and social services to the public; and
- to promote the well-being of Social Workers.
Currently, the Association has a membership of more than 300. To serve members better, the Association’s executive committee is made up of members who each chair a sub-committee to look into the different areas of interests. They range from membership, training and professional development, ethics, discipline to finance, public relations and publications. In addition, four chapters headed by social workers from the different sectors are set up to cater to the needs and development of members in these sectors. They are the Medical Social Work Chapter, the School Social Work Chapter, the Family Social Work Chapter and the Disability Social Work Chapter.
In recognition of the contributions of our social workers, the Association organises the Outstanding Social Worker Award (OSWA) every year. Up to two social workers are conferred the outstanding social worker award while up to another two, the promising social worker award. The awards are presented by the President of the Republic of Singapore at the Istana and witnessed by about 300 social workers and social service practitioners. To celebrate International Social Work Day in March every year, the Association organises various events or symposiums for members to network, interact and demonstrate good practices. To encourage social work students to join the profession after graduation, the Association conducts an induction camp biennially for social work undergraduates.
The Association provides secretariat support to the Social Work Accreditation and Advisory Board, appointed by the Ministry of Social and Service Development (MSF), to administer an accreditation system for social workers. Launched on 1 April 2009, the system has to-date accredited 275 social workers as Registered Social Worker Provisionals and 1,432 social workers as Registered Social Workers and registered 172 social service practitioners.
The Association works closely with the MSF and the Ministry of Health to address the needs of the profession and the different sectors. One of the initiatives that have arisen from this collaboration is the setting up of a scheme to enable young social workers in the smaller agencies without senior social workers, to obtain supervision from external supervisors. Another initiative is to organise professional networking sessions and communities of practice for medical social workers in the intermediate and long-term care sector and provide opportunities for cross-sector projects between the community healthcare setting and the social service.
To enable social workers to pursue continuing professional development, the Association provides training courses on a diverse range of topics through its training academy, the Family Resource and Training Centre (FRTC). Some of our popular courses are on supervision, ethics, group work, community work, family violence, social report writing, grief work, self-care and mental illness.
In the next one to two years, the Association will be looking into increasing its membership base by providing greater incentives for social workers to join, creating more opportunities for dialogue between policymakers and social workers, raising the profile of the profession and enhancing the professional development of social workers.