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Issue 44 (10/2019)

Table of Contents

Report on the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration - Dr. KWOK Ngai-kuen, Alvin, Convener

The main functions of the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration ("the Committee") include drafting, formulating and reviewing the qualification standards for registration and conduct qualification recognition assessments for the respective qualifications (Degree or Diploma in Social Work). Besides me, the members of the Committee of this term include Ms. CHEUNG Lai-yi, Dr. LEUNG Chuen-suen, Dr. NG Yut-ming and Dr. TING Wai-fong.

Apart from the routine qualification recognition assessment, we would like to share with you that we have been working on a particularly important task in recent years, that is, carrying out a comprehensive review and revision for the current "Principles, Criteria and Standards for Recognizing Qualifications in Social Work for Registration of RSWs" ("PCS") (Version of 15 October 2014). During the Board's last term, the Committee has found that the current PCS have been in use for a long period, although several minor amendments have been made throughout the period, clients' needs on social work services having evolved due to the continual social changes, and in response to the developing trends of social work education at the local and international level, we felt the urge to undergo a more comprehensive review and revision.

In view of this, the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration began the process of revision in 2017. Opinions of various stakeholders have been collected and the Criteria and Standards from other countries have also been used as a reference. After more than two years of research, the Committee has completed the first draft of the proposed amendments on the PCS and conducted public consultation from April to June 2019. Within the consultation period, the Committee received from those who made suggestions in writing and also conducted three public consultation sessions, where the Committee listened to suggestions from stakeholders as well as clarified ideas shared by engaging in direct communication. The target groups of the three aforementioned consultation sessions included staff members from tertiary institutions and those teaching social work, registered social workers, employing agencies, social work students and other stakeholders.

Throughout the consultation exercise, five written consultation submissions were received, and a total of 50 stakeholders attended the consultation sessions. I, on behalf of the Committee, would like to express my thanks for the attention of different parties on the issue of revision and for the concrete and precious opinions made. The Committee is currently discussing the collected opinions and planning for another round of consultation. We hope to work out a revised version that not only ensures the quality of social workers, but also strives for a balance between the concerns of different parties. I hope that each and every colleague continues to support our work!

consultation session

consultation session
Introducing the new Assistant Registrar

Ms CHAN May-Shan, Emily

Greetings, my dear colleagues! I am Emily. My RSW registration No. is 00367 (I believe all of you must be able to guess my years of service!). I previously worked as a frontline social worker in primary and secondary schools as well as in youth centres. I also devoted myself to leading a pilot project for supporting schools and teachers during the alarm period of high suicide rate of teachers. My advanced studies awarded me the opportunity to work as a part-time fieldwork supervisor in various tertiary institutions for around ten years. Before joining the Social Workers Registration Board ("the Board"), I was working in a NGO and was responsible for its central administration and the development of the uniformed group services. Moreover, I also joined forces with the board of directors and different committees, with an ambition to accomplishing the board's vision through implementing a number of policies.

To be honest, I would have missed out on the abundant information on the Board's website if I hadn't been preparing for this job application. The information does not only include the minutes of the Board and different committees, but it also has detailed procedures about the handling of discipline, qualification recognition and registration matters, as well as its legal basis. When friends of mine who are social workers found out about my new position on the Board, they took the opportunity to share their opinions to me on their attitudes and expectations towards the Board.

It has already been nearly two months since I joined the Board. I have gained a more holistic understanding about the role of the Board and its actual operation. As a registered social worker and a staff member of the Board office, I am sincerely looking forward to supporting the Board in enacting policies and handling affairs based on the law, providing my reasons and showing compassion. On top of that, I also hope that I can witness how the Board evolves in a changing social context while remaining committed to achieving its mission.

Main focus

  • The Concern over Inspection of Personal Data of Registered Social Workers by members of the Public

It has come to the notice of the Social Workers Registration Board ("the Board") that there are concern of the Registered Social Workers ("RSWs") over the protection of their privacy, and that there are hearsay about the inspection of personal data of RSWs by members of the public. We would like to clarify as follows:

1. In accordance with Section 16 of the Social Workers Registration Ordinance (Cap. 505), the Board should maintain a Register of RSWs, which is available to any person for inspection free of charge at the office of the Board at such reasonable times as the Board may direct (i.e. during its office hours). It is specified under Section 16(1) of the Ordinance that the Register should include the following information of RSWs: 
(1) Name and address;
(2) The qualification on which the registration is based; and
(3) Any other details that the Board may direct (For your information, the other details that the Board has so far directed to be kept on the Register are: category of registration; registration number; and relevant disciplinary order (if any).
The Board will not keep any information other than the above specified in the Register. The information contained in the Register is to facilitate any member of the public to verify whether a person is a RSW or not. The information is to be used exclusively for this sole purpose. Any other unauthorized uses are strictly prohibited.

2. The Board adopts a rigorous procedure for inspection of the Register. A person who intends to inspect the Register should turn up at the office of the Board in person, no telephone or written enquiries will be entertained. The enquirers will be asked to go through a simple registration procedure, to read the code for inspection and when inspecting, they will be accompanied by a staff member of the Board. The means of downloading, copying, photo-taking, video-recording or photocopying so as to take away or forward or extract any information on the Register is strictly prohibited.

3. The Ordinance does not explicitly require the address used for registration as RSWs to be the residential address, whilst it has to be a valid postal address that can be used by the Board for postal correspondence with RSWs, including but not limited to:
(A) Registered post for notifying RSWs the intention to remove their names from the Register for various reasons as specified under Section 22(4) of the Ordinance, e.g. failing to apply for registration renewal;
(B) Service of summons issued by Disciplinary Committee for attending hearing to give evidence;
(C) Delivery of the registration card and receipt for tax returns after each annual renewal of registration;
(D) Dissemination of election pack for electing the Board members triennially.
To address any inconvenience of RSWs over the disclosure of their address used for registration, RSWs may update such with the Board by providing another valid address via written notice  ( or our online registration system (

4. In order to facilitate a simple and quick access for identity verification of RSWs, enquirers may browse the list of RSWs maintained at the Board's website, which contains the RSW's Chinese and English names, registration number, and the expiry date of current registration. No one can access to information of the address and other personal data of RSWs via our website.

5. The number of public inspection of the Register has always been low, and there is no increase in recent months; The Board has examined the system and its operations, and it is obliged to point out that no members of the public can gain access to personal data of RSWs besides those specified by statute via the on-site inspection or the homepage of the Board.

  • Payment of the renewal fee at the 7-11 convenience store is now available on the online registration system

From today onwards, where a RSW submits a renewal form through the online registration system and opts for payment to be made at 7-11 convenience stores, the online system will display a QR code for payment. Either the QR code can be printed out, or a clear capture of it can be taken, and then one can pay at any 7-11 convenience stores.

  • SMS alert on renewal registration

Starting from late October, in addition to taking conventional approaches to remind RSWs to renew their registration, SMS serves as a new communication means in a bid to convey the message more effectively and to enhance communication. The name of the SMS sender will be shown as ‘SWRB', the content therein is only related to renewal matters and does not include any personal information (except the expiry date of the registration). If any RSW does not wish to receive such messages, they can login to the online registration system and delete the information in the mobile phone column.

Work report

  • Nomination of the Disciplinary Committee Panel

The term of office of the current Disciplinary Committee Panel shall end on 15 January 2020. The Board has previously sent out letters and invited all RSWs and other professional bodies to nominate suitable candidates to join the Disciplinary Committee Panel. During the nomination period, the Board received 140 nominations in total. After consideration and confirmation, the Board will later submit the appointment list to the Labour and Welfare Bureau and it is set to be gazetted in early 2020. The three-year term of office for the new Panel shall be from 16 January 2020 to 15 January 2023.

  • Nomination of Appointment of Co-opted Members for Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration

To collect a wide number of opinions from the field, the Committee on Qualification Assessment and Registration is not merely consisted of Board Members, but also co-opted members from other parties for discussions and decisions regarding respective issues. We are grateful for the support we have received from our colleagues, as a total of 42 nominations were received by the Board during the open nomination process. After our thoughtful consideration, the list of the newly appointed members will be soon announced and the term of office for the new members will be until 15 January 2022.

  • Social Work Qualification Assessment

During the period from April to September 2019, the Board has completed the following qualification assessments and qualification review exercises:

- Higher Diploma in Social Work, Hong Kong College of Technology (Full-time and Part-time)
Bachelor of Social Work (Honors), Caritas Institute of Higher Education (Part-time)
- Higher Diploma in Social Work, Hong Kong Community College of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Full-time)
- Bachelor of Social Work (Honors), Gratia Christian College (Full-time)

  • Joint World Conference on Regulators of Social Workers

After the Board having been invited to attend the Joint World Conference on Regulators of Social Workers held in Dublin last year, we are once again invited to attend a similar conference held in Vancouver, Canada. The Board delegated its Member, Dr. TING Wai-fong and its Registrar, Mr. LEE Wing-po, to attend on its behalf. At the conference, representatives from regions including Ireland, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Hong Kong shared their experiences and thoughts in regulating the social work practice in their home countries and regions. As the only Asian representative invited, the Board treasured the privilege to participate in the conference, and to exchange thoughts with international representatives; for the purposes of drawing on overseas experiences and reviewing the local practices.

  • Social Work Day (Hong Kong)

The annual Social Work Day concluded successfully in March 2019. The Board will continue to support this meaningful event and delegate Board's representative on the Organising Committee in the coming year.

  • Report on Promotional Work

During the period from April 2019 to October 2019, the Board has visited the following institutions to introduce the duties of the Board to social work students:

  • Hong Kong Community College of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University(Final Year):45
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong KongYear 1/Final Year):65
  • Hong Kong Baptist UniversityYear 1/Final Year):117
  • Community College of City University(Final Year):30
  • City University of Hong KongFinal Year):50
  • Hong Kong College of TechnologyFinal Year):40
  • Caritas Institute of Higher EducationFinal Year):120
  • The University of Hong KongYear 1):75
  • Gratia Christian CollegeYear 1):11
  • Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Sha Tin) of the Vocational Training CouncilYear 1):60
  • UOW College Hong KongYear 1):105
  • Hong Kong Nang Yan College of Higher EducationYear 1):30
  • Total Number of Participants:748

Case Study

During 2017, the name of a registered social worker was removed from the register by the Board after he had not renewed his registration with the Board on time. Later, he was found to have continued to serve as a social worker for about eight months during the period of de-registration and was then prosecuted by law enforcement authorities. The court ruled at the beginning of this year that he violated section 35(h)(i) of the Social Workers Registration Ordinance ("Ordinance"), "not being a registered social worker (but without prejudice to the operation of section 34(3) and (4)), knowingly permits the use of, or uses, in connection with his business or profession-the description ‘registered social worker' or ‘註冊社會工作者' ". He was fined HK$1,800. 

We hope the aforementioned case can serve as a reminder for all of our colleagues. If a social worker does not apply for renewal of the registration on time, his/her status as a registered social worker will cease upon his/her expiry date. When a person is de-registered, he/she cannot use social work titles until his/her re-application for registration is approved. Therefore, in consideration of the interests of the RSWs themselves, service users and employing agencies, all RSWs are urged to pay close attention to their expiry date of registration and make timely arrangements.


(As of 30/9/2019)

Gender distribution
Male:7,448 (30.6%)
Female:16,929 (69.4%)

Qualification for Registration
Recognized Degree:16,057 (65.9%)
Recognized Diploma / Associate Degree:8,235 (33.8%)
Others:86 (0.35%)

Statistics on Complaint Cases
Total Complaint Cases received:572 (since establishment)
Total Cases for Disciplinary Inquiry:111 (since establishment)
Total Established Cases:32(since establishment)

Note:As some cases are still in the preliminary stage or disciplinary proceedings, the above figures are not expressed in proportion.