Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PUBH103 Epidemiology AND EITHER PUBH100 Foundations of Public Health OR PUBH102 Foundations of Health Promotion

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focussed learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

Community engagement is an essential component of effective public health practice. Theoretical aspects are covered in a range of units within the public health curriculum. This unit provides an opportunity for students to explore the practical aspects of community engagement through placement with organisations that enhance the dignity and wellbeing of people and communities, especially those who are the most marginalised and disadvantaged. Students will undertake work in a selected public sector or non-profit community agency/organisation related to Public Health, to explore the role and complexities of the organisation in supporting disadvantaged individuals and families experiencing socially-determined health issues. The aims of this unit are to assist the host organisation to enhance public health; and for students to develop and reflect upon the values of partnership, equality, mutual respect and commitment as well as the degree of transformation that community engagement can offer participants. 

The unit will include a module on working with specific vulnerable populations that will focus on responding to concerns and strategies to keep ourselves and others safe and support these individuals and groups.   

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Explain the principles and focus of community engagement; (GA: 2) 

LO2 - Demonstrate a knowledge of the mission, aims, objectives and functions of various public sector and non-profit organisations that support and enhance the health of disadvantaged individuals and families in the community; (GA: 1, 4, 5)

LO3 - Identify and address factors that can impact on the roles and functions of public health professionals within the selected public sector or non-profit organisation; (GA: 1, 4) 

LO4 - Reflect critically upon the personal transformation that has occurred through the placement experiences. (GA: 3,4) 

LO5 - Demonstrate an understanding of the importance, policies and strategies for building safe and supportive environments for working with specific vulnerable populations (GA: 1, 5) 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession.


Topics will include: 

Principles of community engagement 

  • Respect for human dignity 
  • Mutuality and reciprocity 
  • Addressing social injustice 

Applying for community engagement placements

  •  Search process
  •  Introductions
  •  Potential Community Engagement sites

Organisation mission, aims, objectives, functions 

  • Relevance 
  • Connections between concepts 

The work in public sector and non-profit organisations 

  • Roles and functions 
  • Factors impacting on roles and functions 


  • Legal issues 
  • Ethical issues 
  • Risk management 
  • Preparation of student 
  • Development of learning contract 

Values underpinning volunteerism experience related to 

  • Relationships between staff, clients and families 
  • Roles and functions of staff and clients 

Transformation engendered in student through community engagement experience. 

Socially-determined health issues 

  • Possible causes 
  • Effect on clients of organization 

Building safe and supportive environments working with specific vulnerable populations 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered primarily through a work-integrated learning framework, supplemented by face-to-face workshop sessions on campus. The unit uses an active learning approach where activities support students to acquire essential theoretical knowledge in public health community engagement relevant to the specific workplace of their placement. Online content (e.g. readings) via the ACU Learning Environment Online (LEO) also support this acquisition. Workshops provide students with the opportunity to apply workplace experiences to broader public health contexts/scenarios, and progressively develop higher level skills of analysis and application of theory in public health community engagement. 

The ‘ACU Child-safe Organisations’ module is an online learning task that, upon completion, participants will receive a certificate.   

Students will be supported to secure work placements with host organisations approved by the Public Health Professional Practice Coordinator and the campus LIC. Learning and performance will be determined by the University and the appointed fieldwork supervisor through the development of a clear and focused learning contract. The fieldwork will comprise a minimum of 80 hours. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Achievement of learning outcomes will be determined by a variety of assessment methods, which will primarily measure the student’s understanding of the discipline specific knowledge inherent in this unit and its application within a professional context.  

 A learning contract will be developed by the student in conjunction with their placement supervisor to determine specific context relevant learning goals, and associated evidence that will be produced to demonstrate their achievement. This is ungraded, however is a mandatory hurdle that must be approved by the placement coordinator. 

A summary of tasks and associated hours will be compiled in a timesheet and uploaded at the conclusion of the placement as proof that the requisite 80 hours have been completed by the student. 

Working with Vulnerable Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults online module is assessed using Online multiple choice or short answer questions in 4 sub-modules. At the completion of each of 4 parts, students will need to pass the first sub-module with a pass mark of 75% percent before progressing to the next sub-module. 

A brief table summary task will require students to identify a range of currently advertised positions within the public health field, and provide an initial analysis of their own work readiness for the field. The descriptive nature of this assessment, and minimal word count are reflected in the weighting. 

A fieldwork report will require students to demonstrate their achievements and to analyse their placement experience, thus building on a description of the tasks undertaken, to a higher level analysis of this work in the context of public health practice. 

The reflective journal requires students to incorporate a literature supported professional reflection framework within which to present their own personal journeys during the placement experience. This assessment requires a deeper level of analysis of their own practice and values within the placement setting. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Learning Contract: To enable students to focus their learning goals during placement 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4 

Timesheet: To enable confirmation that student has undertaken required hours on placement. 




Working with Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults /ACU Child-safe Organisations online module: To enable students to meet statutory requirements.



GA1, GA5 

Job activity: To enable students to demonstrate basic job search and analysis skills relevant to their sector 




Report: To enable students to demonstrate their achievements and analysis of the placement experience. 


LO1, LO3, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4 

Journal: To enable students to critically reflect on their goals and apply reflection frameworks within community engagement. 


LO1, LO3,LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4 

Representative texts and references

Carson, B., Dunbar, T., Chenhall, R. & Bailie, R. (Eds) (2007) Social determinants of Indigenous Health Crows News, NSW: Allen & Unwin. 

Danalis, J. (2009) Riding the Black Cockatoo Chicago: Allen & Unwin. 

Eckermann, A-K., Dowd, T., Chong, E., Nixon, L., Gray, R., & Johnson, S. (2010). Binan goonj: Bridging cultures in Aboriginal health (3rd ed.). Marrickville, NSW: Elsevier Australia. 

Egan, L., Butcher, J., Ralph, K. (2008). Hope as a basis for understanding the benefits and possibilities of community engagement. Strathfield, NSW: The Institute for Advancing Community Engagement, Australian Catholic University. Retrieved from:  

Mackay, H. (2013) Good life: what makes a life worth living? Sydney: Pan MacMillian. 

Singer, P. (2010) The life you can save: acting now to end world poverty Melbourne: Text Publishing. 

Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (2013). Submission to Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse Issues Paper 3 – Child Safe Institutions Principles for Child Safety in Organisations.  

Wortley, R & Smallbone, S (2006) Applying situational Principles to Sexual Offenses against Children, Monsey NY: Criminal Justice Press. 

Wortley R & Smallbone, S (Eds) Situational prevention of child sexual abuse, Monsey NY: Criminal Justice Press. 

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