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, small group discussions, skill development workshops and LEO online activities.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Social workers engage and facilitate change with individuals who are experiencing complex issues in their lives, requiring effective and sensitive communication skills. In this unit, students are introduced to the social work process that includes engagement, assessment, planning, intervention and review and to practice theory and frameworks for practice with individuals. Students are also encouraged to develop interpersonal communication skills through experiential learning. Ethical principles and values that underpin social work practice with individuals are explored through examples of ethical issues that confront practitioners. The aim of this unit is to prepare students for social work practice with individuals in a way that is informed by social work values, ethics, knowledge and skills.

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 social work processes, models and frameworks for practice with individuals from diverse and historically marginalised backgrounds (GA1, GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Demonstrate effective written, verbal and non-verbal interpersonal communication skills with individuals from diverse and historically marginalised backgrounds (GA7, GA9) 

LO3 - Demonstrate social work practice skills in engagement, assessment, planning, intervention and review (GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8) 

LO4 - Critically reflect on the influence of personal values, professional values and ethics in social work practice with individuals (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5)

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 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


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

GA 1 - Demonstrated sense of identity as a professional social worker 

GA 2 - Sound understanding of and commitment to social work values and ethics to guide professional practice 

GA 3 - 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 

GA 4 - 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

GA 5 - Ability to review, critically analyse and synthesise knowledge and values and apply reflective thinking skills to inform professional judgement and practice 

GA 7 - Demonstration of effective communication and interpersonal skills 

GA 8 - Ability to work with diversity and demonstrate respect for cultural difference 


Topics will include: 

Social Work Processes in Working with Individuals 

anti-oppressive practice 

the influence of personal values on practice

cultural and diversity issues 

critical reflection and reflective practice 



Social Work Practice Skills 

Interpersonal communication skills  

understanding communication processes

communication skills with individuals from diverse and historically marginalized backgrounds


Client engagement skills 

engaging with clients 

worker qualities that enhance engagement 

tasks of engagement 

rapport building 

empathy and reflection of feeling

reflection of content skills

Active and reflective listening

working with involuntary clients 

working with clients from culturally diverse backgrounds

Social work assessment  

Assessment skills - questioning, summarizing, paraphrasing, gathering and interpreting information.

assessment tools 




road maps 

multi-dimensional assessment 

biopsychosocial assessment 

strengths based assessment

risk assessment 


Intervention planning skills 

Understanding the change process 

Collaborative goal setting

Planning for endings 

Evaluation and termination 

Practice Models 

strengths perspective  

solution focused therapy 

crisis intervention  

task centered approaches 

solution focused approach 

critical approaches, empowerment and advocacy

cultural responsiveness 


Ethical Practice

professional values - respect and social justice principles in professional practice with individuals  

practice competency and professionalism

professional boundaries and dual relationships 

conflicts of interest 

ethical issues and ethical dilemmas in social work practice 

information recording and sharing 

professional development and supervision to develop reflective practice


Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit prepares student for direct and face to face communication, relationship building, assessment and report writing with clients in the social work practice setting. The unit encourages student development in self-awareness, written and verbal reflection on practice social work assessment and synthesis and analysis of information. Therefore, teaching and learning strategies for this unit include lectures, small group discussions and skill development workshops, including roleplay and reflection on practice activities.   This unit is a pre-requisite to SWTP333 Social Work Field Education 1.'

This unit encourages the development of students’ professional identity, and use of self in the professional context, using written and verbal reflection exercises.

This unit is delivered in an attendance mode on campus. This unit is structured in three modules with different learning and teaching activities that are designed specifically in each module to support student  learning. Each module builds on the next and is designed to reflect the actual process of working with an individual client or service user in a social work practice context.  


Attendance at 100% of lectures and tutorials is expected and an attendance record for lectures and tutorials will be kept. This Unit incorporates professional social work skills based teaching and learning, and therefore has an attendance requirement of a minimum of 80% attendance at weekly skill development and practice classes. 

Reasons why attendance is required 

In tutorials, you will be interacting with other students and developing skills which you will use in your professional/clinical experience. Students who do not attend are at risk of not developing these essential skills.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. These include a Short Answer Quiz, a Case Study Report and a Roleplay Skills Assessment and Reflection. The Roleplay Skills Assessment and Reflection comprises of 1) a prepared video recording of a roleplay social worker – client interview using set case scenarios, and 2) written reflection by the student of their performance in the professional interview. The assessment tasks are designed as authentic social work tasks in which students demonstrate the reflective, analytic and practice skills that will be required of them when undertaking field placements.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Short Answer Quiz

Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge of key concepts in the social work process


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Case Study Report

Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a client case study and write a social work case report informed by social work knowledge, ethics and values


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Roleplay Skills Assessment and Reflection

Enables students to demonstrate social work practice skills in undertaking an interview with a client  and to reflect critically about their own interview performance.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Bolton, G. (2010). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development. London, UK: Sage. 

Chenoworth, L & McAuliffe, D (2017). The Road to Social Work and Human Service Practice (5th ed.). Melbourne, Vic. Cengage Learning

Coulshed, V., & Orme, J. (2012). Social work practice (5th ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., Walker, R. (Eds.) (2014) Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice (2nd ed.). Commonwealth of Australia 

Harms, L., (2015). Working with People – Communication Skills for Reflective Practice. (2nd Ed.), South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Healy, K. (2012). Social work methods and skills. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Ling, H.K., Martin, J., & Ow, R. (2014). Cross-cultural social work local and global. South Yarra, Victoria: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lishman, J. (2015). Handbook for practice learning in social work and social care. Knowledge and theory (3rd ed.). London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Maidment, J. & Egan, R. (Eds.). (2016). Practice Skills in Social Work and Welfare: More than just common sense (3rd Ed.). Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.

Oelofsen, N. (2012). Developing reflective practice. London, UK: Lanten. 

O’Hara, A., & Pockett, R. (2011). Skills for Human Service Practice: Working with Individuals, Groups and Communities. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Trevithick, P. (2012). Social work skills and knowledge: A practice handbook (3rd ed.). Maidenhead Berkshire, UK: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill. 

Walker, S., & Beckett, C. (2011). Social work assessment and intervention (2nd ed.). London, UK: Russell House Publishing. 

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