Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

A variety of learning and teaching strategies for this unit will include lectures, self-directed learning and LEO online activities.->A variety of learning and teaching strategies for this unit will include lectures, self-directed learning and LEO online activities.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit will focus on the core social work objectives of working to achieve human rights and social justice. These concepts will be explored with particular attention to social workers working within a human rights and social justice framework with a range of communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other groups experiencing disadvantage. The unit will explore definitions of social justice as well as the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which the social work profession subscribes to, with particular reference to how the Declaration relates to the IFSW and AASW Codes of Ethics. Particular emphasis will be given to presenting human rights as an area of knowledge, values and responsibility leading to advocacy and action. The unit aims to provide students with the core knowledge, understanding and skills for practice as human rights and social justice professionals. 

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 - Identify the socially constructed nature of social justice (GA1, GA5); 

LO2 - Explain the concept and history of human rights and its definitions as presented in a range of formal statutes, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (GA1, GA2); 

LO3 - Explain the role of privilege, discrimination and oppression with respect to social justice issues (GA4, GA5); 

LO4 - Identify the values, knowledge, and skills that social workers need to be human rights and social justice professionals (GA2, GA3, GA5, GA8); 

LO5 - Discuss social work skills for social justice-oriented advocacy and social action (GA1, GA2, GA6, GA9).  

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 

GA6 - work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language with clients, their significant others and colleagues


On successful completion of this unit, students should have developed: 

GA2 - Sound understanding of and commitment to social work values and ethics to guide professional practice 

GA3 - Ability to apply social work knowledge and interventions to respond effectively in meeting the needs of individuals, groups and communities in diverse settings, client groups and geographic locations 

GA4 - Ability to apply knowledge of human behaviour and society, as well as the social, cultural, political, legal, economic and global contexts of practice to respond effectively within a human rights and social justice framework 

GA5 - Ability to review, critically analyse and synthesise knowledge and values and apply reflective thinking skills to inform professional judgement and practice 

GA7 - Demonstration of effective communication and interpersonal skills 

GA8 - Ability to work with diversity and demonstrate respect for cultural difference 

AASW Practice Standards

The following table sets out the broad relationship between the Learning Outcomes, ACU Graduate Attributes and the AASW Practice Standards

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

3.1 Work respectfully and inclusively with cultural difference and diversity

3.2 2 2 respect, strive to understand and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures


1.1 Practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics (2010)

3.2 respect, strive to understand and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures


4.2 Understand and articulate social work and other relevant theories and concepts

4.4 Understand and articulate how and when theories, knowledge bases and knowledge sources inform practice


3.2 respect, strive to understand and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures

4.1 Understand higher level systemic influences on people with respect to area of practice


1.1 Practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics (2010)

2.1 Represent the social work profession with integrity and professionalism



Topics will include: 


Human Rights and Social Justice 

  • Epistemology and philosophy of human rights 
  • Theoretical perspectives 
  • human rights 
  • social, economic and environmental justice 
  • prejudice, discrimination and oppression 
  • power and privilege 
  • Type of human rights 
  • economic 
  • social 
  • cultural 
  • Environmental 
  • Current human rights and social justice issues 
  • Social justice allyship 

Emergence of Human Rights Conventions and Treaties 

  • Overview of UN Convention in the wake of the atrocities of WW2 
  • Context prior to the history of human rights treaties 
  • Social, cultural and economic catalysts 
  • Subsequent development of the various human rights treaties, conventions and declarations 

Rights of Different Groups, such as: 

  • Rights of women 
  • Rights of LGBTIQ peoples 
  • Rights of refugees and asylum seekers 
  • Rights of people with disabilities 
  • Rights of children 
  • Rights of First Nations peoples 
  • Rights of patients and clients (mental health and physical health) 

Skills and Strategies used by Social Workers 

  • Campaigns for human rights and social justice, including internet-based campaigns 
  • Advocacy 
  • Social activism 
  • Social action 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, small group discussions and LEO online activities. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in class discussions. Students learn to navigate LEO and online delivery of assignments such as the Quiz.

Social work is a profession grounded in the application of knowledge of human behavior and society. Students need to work collectively, develop self –efficacy and demonstrate effective communication and inter-personal skills. These skills will enable them to meet the professional requirements outlined in the Australian Association of Social Workers Education Standards.

This unit may also be offered on or off campus in intensive mode or multi-mode for sponsored / special cohorts, with the learning and teaching strategies being equitable with on campus mode offerings as endorsed by the School Curriculum Implementation Committee.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The first assessment aims to assess students’ ability to identify a contemporary social justice issue and develop a persuasive argument to bring key stakeholders’ attention to this issue (LO5). It also allows the students the opportunity to demonstrate their growing knowledge of the human rights framework and apply it to their topic (LO2). The second assessment is a critical self-reflection and professional development task which requires students to think about their own prejudices and biases in relation to certain communities or groups (LO1, LO3), and asks them to develop a professional development plan to address these self-identified biases (LO4). This assessment task is based on the idea of self as a tool of social work practice and social workers as catalysts of social justice-oriented change. The final assessment task is a group assignment intended to develop students’ knowledge and skills in the area of social justice advocacy (LO1, LO4, LO5). 


All three assessment tasks are designed to be authentic learning assignments and build on reflexive approaches that are elemental to social work practice. 


Intensive and multi-mode assessment of this unit will be transparently equitable with on campus mode offerings as endorsed by the relevant Course Implementation Committee 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written assignment 

Enables students to write a persuasive short paper to bring attention to a contemporary social justice issue and connect it to the international human rights framework.   


LO2, LO4, LO5 

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Critical Self-Reflection and Growth Assignment 

Students will write a paper identifying and examining their biases and stereotypes about a marginalised community and develop a professional development plan to meaningfully address these biases or stereotypes. 


LO1, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Group assignment – Part A 

Students work in small groups to identify a social justice issue of contemporary relevance and design a social advocacy campaign on it. Student groups will present their work in class and these presentations will be assessed in class. 


LO1, LO4, LO5 

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA 8, GA9 

Group Assignment – Part B (Individual Reflection) 

Enables students to reflect on the group exercise and their contribution to their group.  


LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Baines, D., Bennett, B., Goodwin, S., & Rawsthorne, M. (2019). Working across difference: Social work, social policy and social justice. Red Globe Press. 


Bennett, B., & Green, S. (2019). Our voices: Aboriginal social work (2nd ed.). Red Globe Press. 


Dominelli, L., (2010). Social work in a globalising world. Polity Press. 


Finn, J. L. (2016). Just practice: A social justice approach to social work (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 


Gil, D. S. (2013). Confronting injustice and oppression: concepts and strategies for social workers. Columbia University Press. 


Ife, J. (2012). Human Rights and Social Work: Towards rights-based practice (3rd ed). Cambridge University Press. 


Lundy, C. (2011). Social work, social justice & human rights: a structural approach to practice (2nd ed.). University of Toronto Press. 


Mapp, S. C. (2014). Human rights and social justice in a global perspective (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 


Pease, B., Goldingay, S., Hosken, N., & Nipperess, S. (2016). Doing critical social work: Transformative practices for social justice. Allen & Unwin. 


Reichert, E. (2011). Social work and human rights: a foundation for policy and practice (2nd ed.). Columbia University Press. 


van Wormer, K., Kaplan, L., & Juby, C. (2012). Confronting oppression, restoring justice: From policy analysis to social action. CSWE Press. 

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