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Who We Are?

The Irish Association of Social Workers is the national professional body for social workers in the Republic of Ireland. It was founded in 1971 and has a membership of over 1,300 social workers. The IASW is an active member of the International Federation of Social Workers, which represents professional social work associations from over 55 different countries with more than 350,000 social workers in all parts of the world.

What does the IASW do?

The Objectives of the Association are: 

  1. Ensuring the sustainable development of the IASW, as the professional body supporting and representing the social work profession in the Republic of Ireland.
  2. Improving the standards and quality of professional social work practice
  3. Facilitating social workers to meet the CPD requirements of registration
  4. Increasing access to information and support for social workers
  5. Enhancing the public profile and perception of social work
  6. Using social work expertise to influence the development of local, national and international policy and practice

How does the IASW operate?

As a voluntary professional body (i.e. the only paid positions are the Office Manager & the CPD Development Officer), much of the work of the Association is achieved through its members and an annual grant from the HSE. Many components of the IASW, from Special Interest Groups to the Chair of the Board, operate on the time given by various members. It is up to the members of the Association to participate in order to make it effective.

The Association operates by means of an elected Board of Directors which includes; the Chair of the Board, Vice-Chair, Company Secretary and Treasurer. Council is made up of the Special Interest Groups (SIG’s), Associate Groups and Committees, and is the advisory body to the Board.

- The Board of Directors is elected every year by the Membership at the AGM. The Board of Directors oversee operational tasks on behalf of the Association such as Membership, Treasury, Conferences and Seminars, Policy Development, Journal, Line Managing Employees, CPD, Communications and International Affairs.

- Council is an advisory group of the Board of IASW and all Council members must be members of the Association. It is made up of the Chair of IASW, two other Board members and one representative of each Special Interest Group (preferably the Chair of each Special Interest Group), Committee & Associate Group. Additional members of Council may be agreed by the Board. The Council meets 4 times a year to discuss the affairs of the Association.

- The Chair of the Board is directly elected every year by the Membership and chairs the Board and Council. The Chair is also involved in many of the duties of the Board of Directors, which includes: the line management of the Association's employees.

- The Special Interest Groups  & Committees are smaller groups within the Association that meet to discuss issues in a common area of work (e.g. Adult Mental Health, Children & Families, Probation) or in a geographical region (e.g. Southern Region). These groups identify priority issues that the Association need to address – e.g. a media issue, a training need and feed this back to the Board. Positions in relation to the policy of the Association need to be motioned at the AGM and adopted by the Members. It is crucial that members involve themselves in a Special Interest Group or Committee to identify the pressing issues with their peers that the Association can respond to or focus on.

How does being a member of the IASW differ from being a member of a Trade Union?

The crucial difference is that the IASW is a professional body that only represents the professional interests of Social Workers. It is the forum for Social Workers to speak about the profession and as a profession that is distinct from the Industrial Relations focus of a Union. 

Why should I become a member?

One of the best reasons to join the IASW is to ensure your voice is heard in relation to Social Work issues – whether it relates to Social Work in the media, policy issues, or current practice. This enables the Association to represent the views of Social Workers and promote the role of Social Work in society. The Association has been very successful in recent years in providing media responses to Social Work Issues, as well as issuing Press Releases on issues pertinent to the membership and advocating on behalf of our client groups. The Association has been quoted in national media and asked to appear on current affairs TV and news programmes on a number of occasions.

Another strong reason to join is to avail of low cost training through CPD seminars and conferences. IASW members receive a CPD folder and can access the members only IASW CPD Resources of the website for additional information and resources. This is in keeping with the Association’s aim to improve the quality and standard of Social Work. The publication of the “Irish Social Worker” Journal also channels the learning of Social Workers in Ireland to the Membership.

The Association also provides support for Social Workers, primarily by facilitating those in similar areas of work/regions to come together as Special interest Groups, but also at CPD events and the AGM. Admin support is also offered through the office, with information on the latest activities of the Association going out via regular correspondence from the office, as well as information about job vacancies and external training events. Membership also carries 10% discount through a group health insurance scheme with VHI, and a 10% reduction on BASWA Publications.

The Association provides the most comprehensive and superior Fitness to Practise Legal Expenses Cover available. A copy of the policy is available from the Membership section on the website.

How Many Social Workers in Ireland are members?

There are currently over 1,300 members of the IASW. The past two years has seen a significant growth in membership and the Association has gained a lot of ground as the voice of Social Workers in Ireland because of this. The strength of the Association lies in both numbers and the quality of participation of its members – the more input the Association has, the louder and clearer the voice of Social Work becomes.


 ** See the “Membership”section on the website for more information on membership benefits, the membership application process and membership fee structures **