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Professional boundaries

What are Professional Boundaries?

Professional Boundaries define effective and appropriate interaction between professionals and the public they serve. Boundaries exist to protect both the professional and the client.

In the Community Services Industry workers are required to maintain professional boundaries at all times and work within these boundaries and the constraints applicable to the work role.

Workers are often faced with situations that require an ability to make good ethical decisions. Management has a responsibility to develop policies and procedures within their organisation and ensure practice that reflects the values, mission and purpose of the organisation.

An ethical organisation has a clear set of values and principles that direct that everyone undertakes their role. That is why it is so important to have ethical standards, so that we are operating by a professional set of guidelines, not what we personally think is right or wrong.

Each professional discipline or its professional association, e.g. social work, psychology, nursing, welfare work, etc, has its own particular code of ethics and/or code of conduct. All members are required to abide by their own professional code of ethics and sanctions may be applied by the professional body for breaches of these codes. Ethical codes are usually broad and encompass key areas of concern for the particular type of work being performed. By clarifying what ethical conduct is supposed to be, professions show commitment to a moral standard of behaviour.

As well as professional codes of ethical behaviour, some services also require their workers to comply with additional and more specific guidelines in keeping with the needs of that particular community and/or agency. For example, children’s services and services for people with disabilities have particular requirements or standards, as does the aged care industry. All ethical code requirements are based on respect for the client, care and protection for the client where required, and appropriate behaviour towards the client at all times.

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