Introducing a professional capabilities framework for social work in Aotearoa New Zealand


  • Neil Ballantyne Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Liz Beddoe University of Auckland| Waipapa Taumata Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Kathryn Hay Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Jane Maidment University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Shayne Walker University of Otago, Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Caitlin Merriman Research assistant


Professional capabilities, education, newly qualified social workers, competencies


INTRODUCTION: This article discusses the findings from a project on enhancing the professional capabilities of newly qualified social workers. Existing capability and competence frameworks are reviewed, and components of a draft Aotearoa New Zealand Professional Capabilities Framework (ACPF) are outlined.

METHODS: This phase of the research programme began with a literature scan of five social work professional capability frameworks then used this information, data from earlier parts of the study, and a series of co-production workshops with key stakeholders to draft a professional capabilities framework for newly qualified and more experienced social workers.

FINDINGS: Analysis of the existing frameworks and data from the co-production workshops identified seven core values and 10 core capabilities to guide early-career and more experienced social work practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand.

IMPLICATIONS: Professional capabilities frameworks can guide and inform the practice and learning of all social workers. Following further stakeholder engagement, especially with tangata whenua (Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand), it is strongly recommended that the Social Workers Registration Board considers the adoption or adaptation of the APCF as an alternative to the current competence standards.


Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW). (2014). ANZASW Social work practice standards: Enhancing competent social work practice. Publication-Full-Nov-14.pdf

Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW). (2019). Code of ethics. 30-Aug-2019.pdf

Ballantyne, N., Beddoe, L., Maidment, J., Hay, K., & Walker, S. (2017). Literature scan 1: Social work education, curriculum mapping and educational taxonomies. NPF16-003-Enhancing-the-readiness-to-practice-of- newly-qualified-social-workers/LITERATURE-SCAN- Social-Work-Education-Curriculum-Mapping-and- Educational-Taxonomies.pdf

Ballantyne, N., Hay, K., Beddoe, L., Maidment, J., & Walker, S. (2019a). Mapping and visualizing the social work curriculum. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 37(2-3), 184–202. 19.1609386

Ballantyne, N., Beddoe, L., Hay, K., Maidment, J., Walker, S., & Ngan, L. (2019b). Enhancing the readiness to practise of newly-qualified social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Report on phase one: The social work curriculum. enhancing-the-readiness-to-practise-of-newly-qualified- social-workers/report-on-phase-one-the-social-work- curriculum/

Ballantyne, N., Beddoe, L., Hay, K., Maidment, J., Walker, S., & Mayhew, Z. (2019c). Enhancing the readiness to practise of newly qualified social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand (Enhance R2P). Report on phase two: The readiness to practise of NQSWs. assets/Knowledge-centre/NPF16-003-Enhancing-the- readiness-to-practice-of-newly-qualified-social-workers/ cbcbe5dede/Report-on-Phase-Two-The-Readiness-to- Practise-of-NQSWs.pdf

Ballantyne, N., Beddoe, L., Hay, K., Maidment, J., & Walker, S. (2022). Research brief: The development of a Professional Capabilities Framework for social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(2), 81–89.

Banks, S. (2021). Ethics and values in social work (5th ed.). Red Globe Press.

Beddoe, L. (2018). Social work education in Aotearoa New Zealand: Building a profession. Practice, 30(4), 305–320.

Beddoe, L., Hay, K., Maidment, J., Ballantyne, N., & Walker, S. (2018). Readiness to practice social work in Aotearoa New Zealand: perceptions of students and educators. Social Work Education, 37(8), 955–967. 10.1080/02615479.2018.1497152

British Association of Social Workers (BASW). (2017). Professional capability framework – End of last placement/qualifying level.

Cairney, P. (2018). Why don't policymakers listen to your evidence? [Audio podcast]. Public Policy Institute: University of Auckland. https://www.policycommons. policymakers-listen-to-my-evidence-and-how-should-i- respond-2/

Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators (CCSWR). (2012). Entry-level competency profile for the social work profession in Canada: Executive summary. http:// Competency-Profile-FINAL-Eng-PG-1-51.pdf

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). (2015). 2015 Educational policy and accreditation standards. Accreditation-Process/2015-EPAS/2015EPAS_Web_ FINAL.pdf.aspx

Hay, K., Maidment, J., Beddoe, L., Ballantyne, N., Walker, S., & Mayhew, Z. (2019). Literature scan: Professional capabilities framework. Ako Aotearoa.

Hunt, S., Staniforth, B., & Beddoe, L. (2019). Establishing the qualification criteria for social worker registration in Aotearoa New Zealand: Conflict and compromise. Social Work Education, 38(7), 894–907. https://doi/full/10.1080/ 02615479.2019.1593957

International Federation of Social Workers (2014). Global definition of social work. definition-of-social-work/

Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. (2017). Family violence, sexual violence and violence within wha ̄nau: Workforce capability framework. Ministry of Social Development. https://www.justice.govt. nz/assets/Documents/Publications/family-violence- workforce-capability-framework.pdf

Ministry of Social Development (2015). Expert panel final report: Investing in New Zealand’s children and their families. and-our-work/work-pro- grammes/investing-in-children/ investing-inchildren-report.pdf

Nash, M., & Munford, R. (2001). Unresolved struggles: Educating social workers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Social Work Education, 20(1), 21–34.

Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB). (2015). The SWRB ten core competence standards. https://swrb.govt. nz/for-social-workers/core-competence-standards/

Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB). (2016). Kaitiakitanga framework. Tangata whenua voices in social work. publications/publications/

Taylor, I., & Bogo, M. (2014). Perfect opportunity – perfect storm? Raising the standards of social work education in England. British Journal of Social Work, 44(6), 1402–1418.

TCSW. (2012a). The professional capabilities framework for social workers. The College of Social Work.

Watson, D., & West, J. (2016). Social work process and practice: Approaches, knowledge, and skills. Palgrave Macmillan.




How to Cite

Ballantyne, N., Beddoe, L., Hay, K., Maidment, J., Walker, S., & Merriman, C. (2022). Introducing a professional capabilities framework for social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(4), 61–75. Retrieved from



Original Articles