Social workers says more frontline staff are needed at the Ministry of Social Development to help families cope with growing economic difficulties.
The ministry is to cut up to 200 administration and management jobs as part of a restructuring plan to recruit extra case managers and social workers.
Critics say the ministry's workload is increasing and front-line social workers will have to pick up more administrative work.
The Association of Social Workers says says it broadly supports the changes because families need extra support as economic conditions worsen.
However, chief executive Dominic Chilvars told Morning Report the ministry may struggle to recruit extra social workers because of a widespread shortage.