Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


SWTP321 Field Education in Social Work 2 or SWTP333 Social Work Field Education 1

Teaching organisation

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, workshops, small group discussions and LEO online activities.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Social workers analyse, implement and contribute to the development of social policy. This unit analyses the policy dimensions of social work practice in the Australian context. Students will research and analyse public policy issues relevant for social work practice. The unit emphasises skill development in advocacy, and the analysis of public policy, particularly in relation to vulnerable and diverse populations within a broader ethical social work practice framework. As such, this unit will provide students with development of advanced knowledge and skills in examining how social policy frameworks explain the development and implementation of policy in both government and non-government contexts. Honours Students will critically analyse the current policy practice issues, evaluate policy evidence base and conceptualise social policy work as central to social work practice.

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 - Outline the policy context of social work practice and the practice skills required (GA1, GA2, GA5)

LO2 - Relate social policy frameworks to the social, political and cultural contexts of public/social policy (GA5, GA10) 

LO3 - Apply social work values, skills and ethics to critique selected contemporary social issues and related policy responses (GA 4, GA8)

LO4 - Articulate clearly an informed position on a selected policy issue that reflects the principles of social justice (GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO5 - Critically evaluate the evidence base for a selected policy. (GA8)

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 

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

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

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

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.

AASW Graduate Attributes 

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

GA1 - Demonstrate sense of identity as a professional social worker

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

GA6 - Ability to apply research knowledge and skills to understand, evaluate and use research to inform practice and to develop, execute and disseminate research informed by practice.

GA7 - Demonstration of effective communication and interpersonal skills

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

AASW Practice Standards (2013)

This unit has been mapped to the ACU Graduate Attributes, AASW Graduate Attributes and the AASW Practice Standards. The following table sets out the broad relationship between the Learning Outcomes, ACU Graduate Attributes, AASW Graduate Attributes and the AASW Practice Standards

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

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


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

3.1 Work respectfully and inclusively with cultural difference and diversity

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

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice


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

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


2.1 Represent the social work profession with integrity and professionalism5.1 Conduct an assessment and analysis of needs to inform the services being offered

5.3 use a range of specific social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice


4.3 Understand the role of research and evaluation in obtaining and generating new knowledge for practice5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice



Topics will include:

The Institutions of Public Policy

  • role of social workers in social policy
  • social, political and cultural institutions
  • not-for-profit sector
  • values based organisations in the human services

Policy Advocacy, Media and Writing for Policy 

  • Policy in the media context, debates, discourses, analysis 

Contemporary Issues in Policy

  • State and territory domains
  • Commonwealth domain
  • Indigenous Policy
  • Multicultural Policy
  • Women’s policy 
  • Housing policy
  • Disability
  • Child safety

Policy Analysis - Analytical skills

  • Models and theory for understanding policy
  • Comparative policy
  • Policy practice framework
  • The policy cycle
  • The purpose of policy analysis
  • Analytic frameworks
  • Policy instruments
  • Models of public decision making & influence

Policy Practice Skills

  • interactional skills & communication
  • developing linkages
  • analytical, interactional and political skills in policy discourse and practice
  • writing policy skills
  • implementing policy 
  • influencing change in the policy context 
  • evaluating policy in context 
  • appraising the evidence base for policy choices

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours with a combination of face-to-face lectures, small group tutorials and LEO. A visit to the local Parliament to observe Parliament in sitting is also recommended.

The lectures ensure that there is adequate coverage on the definitions, processes and implementation frameworks in public policy analysis for social workers. Tutorials incorporate small group, collaborative learning with students engaging in group learning tasks and active discussion of contemporary public policy issues relevant to social work practitioners. In order to achieve associated learning outcomes, there is an 80% minimum attendance requirement for tutorials. Policy analysis and review includes identification of policy themes as prioritised by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and Australian Association of Social Works (AASW). These resources will be utilised allowing students to better understand and explore good practice policy outcomes. Through this engagement with contemporary policy discourses in Australia students will be building skills and competency in advocacy through policy making.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The critical media analysis and individual presentation assesses students’ capacity to identify and reflect on contemporary public policy discourses in the field of public policy. These directly relate to understanding social policy frameworks in the social, political and cultural contexts of public/social policy (LO2) examining key public policy discourses in social work practice. These assignments are authentic and adopt critical thinking approaches key to social work in a public policy environment. 

The policy proposal assesses students’ ability to prioritise, plan, and engage with public policy through identification of social problems and critically evaluating the evidence base for policy (LO5). These assessments give students an opportunity to articulate the importance of public policy in social work practice (LO4). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written assignment: analyses a contemporary social policy issue, taking media representation of the issue into consideration.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4,

GA5, GA8, GA10

Presentation on Policy Issue: Students draw on academic literature to examine a social policy issue impacting on social work practice. This task

enables students to develop a policy brief by identifying a significant policy issue. Students will individually make policy brief oral presentations in class, to further develop presentation skills


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4,

GA5, GA8, GA10

Policy Proposal Submission: Student develops a significant proposal within the context of a current social policy agenda and makes recommendations for implementation.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4,


GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5 GA6, GA8


Representative texts and references

Althaus, C., Bridgman., P., & Davis, G. (2013). The Australian policy handbook (5thed.).  Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin. 

Carson, E., & Kerr, L. (2017). Australian Social Policy and the Human Services. (2nd ed) Cambridge, University Press. 

Cunningham, J. & Cunningham, S. (2012). Social Policy and Social Work: An Introduction. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Dalton, T., Draper, M., Weeks, W., & Wiseman, J. (1996).  Making social policy in Australia: An introduction. Chapter 4. Crow’s Nest: Allen & Unwin. 

Dickens, J. (2010), Social work and social policy - An introduction, London: Routledge.

Haigh, Y. (2012). Public Policy in Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press

John, P. (2012). Analyzing Public Policy. Basingstoke: Routledge.

Maddison, S., & Denniss, R. (2013). An introduction to Australian public policy: Theory and practice. (2nd ed.). Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

McClelland, A. & Smyth, P. (2010), Social policy in Australia – Understanding for action. (2nd ed.), Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. 

McConnell, A. (2010), Understanding policy success – Rethinking public policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mendes, P. (2017). Australia’s Welfare Wars: The Players, The Politics and The ideologies,

                  (3rd ed). UNSW

Wanna, J.,Butcher, J.,& Freyens, B. (2010). Policy in action –The challenge of service delivery, Sydney, Australia: UNSW.                              

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