New Zealand Diploma in Community Social Services (level 6)

Since the expiry of the National Diploma in Social Service work with Abuse, Neglect, and Violence (Level 6) on 31 December 2019, there has been no social services qualification available to the sector at this level. Toitū te Waiora was approached by a Tertiary Education Organisation (‘TEO’) earlier in 2022 to help develop a new level 6 qualification in this space. The TEO who approached us at Toitū te Waiora has undertaken considerable background work on developing the new qualification. Their intention is to deliver a 240-credit programme leading to a qualification at Level 6.



We are now seeking views from interested parties prior to making a decision on whether to support development of this new qualification, provisionally named as the New Zealand Diploma in Community Social Services (level 6). If you would like to provide feedback relevant to this qualification, please email Toitū te Waiora at [email protected] before the close of business on Friday 30 November.

We would like submissions from any interested parties regarding:

  • The need for a new qualification at this level given the recent expiry of the National Diploma in 2019.
  • The target audience – who is likely to take a programme leading to this qualification, and to what end?
  • How many people would be likely to study for this qualification in Aotearoa New Zealand per annum?
  • Expressions of interest from TEOs about delivering a programme leading to this qualification.
  • The likelihood of TEOs attracting Tertiary Education Funding for a programme leading to this qualification.
  • Any other comments or observations you might have.

If Toitū te Waiora decides to help develop this new qualification, it will follow the procedures outlined by NZQA:

Summary of the proposed qualification

This qualification is designed for experienced people working in the Health and Wellbeing sector, people wanting to enter the sector, and professionals seeking development opportunities within a Social Services /wellbeing setting.

The Wellbeing community of Aotearoa New Zealand will benefit from having graduates with the skills and knowledge required across a range of vocations and disciplines, to support people to achieve their wellbeing aspirations.

Graduates of this qualification will work independently, or under the supervision of professional or qualified clinicians. Akongā will build a level of competence, knowledge, and skills required for professional social service work in a wide range of settings, in statutory and voluntary agencies and organisations, and in private practice.

People awarded the New Zealand Diploma in Community Social Services (Level 6) can work in the social services industry under professional supervision, with a considerable degree of autonomy and accountability for achieving outcomes as a social services worker. They can establish and maintain working relationships with people from user groups of the social services and provide or facilitate the provision of social work services. They can work within a framework for professional social work practice informed by knowledge and skills in the application and implementation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the social services. They practice according to ethical and legislative boundaries and demonstrate an integrated practice theory for professional social work.

The Diploma recognises the core skills and knowledge necessary for competent and reflective practitioners within the social services sector and enable people to build on knowledge in a specialist area, such as whanau support work & abuse, neglect, and violence & community facilitation.

The Diploma is designed to be both a stand-alone qualification for competent practitioners in the social services sector and as a workplace academic entry qualification for those people who are seeking further study at degree level.

Graduates of this qualification will not be eligible for registration as a Social Worker.

Qualification overview

  1. Level 6 qualification (includes level 5 and level 6 unit/skill standards)
  2. No more than 8 GPO’s
  3. 240 NZQA credits
  4. 2-year programme (80 weeks)
  5. Includes fieldwork practice of a minimum 600 hours
  6. Focus on community social services with a social development emphasis
  7. Professional social service skills
  8. Covers social service work including:
  • Community
  • Iwi / Māori
  • Youth Work
  • Cultural diversity