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Membership

Community workers can sometimes be described to some extent by their membership of a particular organisation. These organisations range from unions, professional associations, societies, trades associations etc.

There are important distinctions between the role played by the various organisations. Some of these bodies such as unions play a support and advocacy role whereas as others such as professional associations can be involved in regulatory and disciplinary actions. Sometimes membership is compulsory, at other times membership may be voluntary. Some examples of professional associations include:

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
Australian Institute of Welfare and Community Workers (AIWCW)
Australian Psychological Society (APS)
Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)
Queensland Counsellors Association (QCA)
Australian Guidance and Counselling Association (AGCA)
Australian Counselling Association (ACA)

Most organisations will be aware of the need for their workers to join an association. Whether they encourage workers to join, assist with membership fees, allow subscription to membership journals etc will vary from organisation to organisation. Many organisations that provide relationship counselling will encourage members to join the AASW, the APS or the ACA depending on the counsellorís qualifications.

Lawyers employed in community legal centres hold a practising certificate issued by the Queensland Law Society. The Queensland Law Society (QLS) plays a role similar to a union, with membership benefits and support services. The QLS also regulates the issue of practising certificates within Queensland. Similar arrangements exist for other professionals including social workers and psychologists.