Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent totalling 48 hours. Students may be required to prepare role play videos in between classes and complete readings set for each week.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The main goal of social work is to improve the wellbeing of individuals, families, and society, especially those who are most vulnerable. Social workers work with individuals to enable them to achieve the best possible level of personal and social wellbeing. This unit will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work with individuals in diverse practice contexts through the critical examination of theoretical models for social work practice. Students will develop foundatonal communication skills including skills in engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation of social work practice with individuals. The models of practice examined will include a range of approaches to working with voluntary and involuntary clients in different practice contexts. Students will critically review and evaluate different practice models and perspectives and their applicability to diverse vulnerable populations and practice contexts. The experiential component will include practice in foundational social work communication skills as well as the use of reflective processes through small group activities and reflective writing. The aim of this unit is to prepare students for social work practice with individuals 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 - Identify various models and frameworks for practice with individuals in diverse contexts (GA1, GA2)

LO2 - Critically reflect on the influence of personal values, professional values and ethics in social work practice with individuals (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4)

LO3 - Explain social work practice skills and knowledge for work with individuals (GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5)

LO4 - Demonstrate social work practice skills in engagement, assessment, planning, intervention and review (GA5,  GA7, GA8, GA10)

LO5 - Demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and in diverse contexts (GA7, GA9)

LO6 - Apply ethical principles and values underpinning social work practice with individuals to a range of ethical issues in practice (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, 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 - 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 

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


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

GA1 - Demonstrate sense of identity as a professional social worker

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

GA3 - 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 - 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 - Review, critically analyse and synthesise knowledge and values and a reflective thinking skills to inform professional judgement and practice

GA6  - 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 - Demonstrate effective communication and interpersonal skills

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, Graduate Attributes and the AASW Practice Standards.

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

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

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.

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


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 culture. 

5.1 Conduct and assessment and analysis of needs to inform the service being offered.

5.2 Work collaboratively with relevant people.

6.2 Effectively communicate the details and nature of the service offered to people.


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

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.

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


2.1 Represent the social work professional with integrity and professionalism.

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice.


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

1.2 Manage ethical dilemmas and issues arising from practice. 

2.2 Behave in a professional manner and be accountable for all actions and decision.

7.2 Keep and maintain information in accordance with ethical principles and relevant legislation.


1.1   Effectively communicate with a diverse range of people

1.2   Effectively communicate the details and nature of the service offered to people

1.4 Use information technology to communicate and provide services as appropriate



Social Work Processes in Working with Individuals

  • anti-oppressive practice
  • the influence of personal values
  • cultural and diversity issues including working with interpreters
  • reflective practice
  • self-care

Social Work Practice Skills

  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • understanding communication
  • communication processes
  • communication for survival, for healing, as power
  • influences on our listening

Client engagement skills

  • engaging with clients
  • worker qualities that enhance engagement
  • tasks of engagement
  • rapport building
  • empathy
  • reflective listening
  • deep listening
  • working with involuntary clients

Social work Assessment 

  • assessment tools
  • genograms
  • ecomaps
  • culturagrams
  • road maps
  • Stay strong plans
  • multi-dimensional assessment
  • biopsychosocial assessment
  • risk assessment

Intervention planning skills

  • Understanding the change process
  • Planning for endings
  • Evaluation and termination

Practice Approaches

  • strengths perspective 
  • solution focused therapy
  • crisis intervention 
  • task centred approaches
  • solution focused approach
  • empowerment and advocacy approach
  • cultural responsiveness

Values and Ethics

  • respect
  • social justice and human rights
  • practice competency
  • social work service and propriety
  • professional boundaries and dual relationships
  • conflicts of interest
  • ethical issues and ethical dilemmas in social work practice
  • professionalism
  • information recording and sharing
  • professional development and supervision

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face lectures, interactive face to face tutorials which may be time-tabled separate to the lecture or together with the lecture as a 3 hour block depending on student numbers. The unit promotes experiential learning methods to enable students to develop interpersonal communication and counselling skills. Teaching and learning strategies may include lectures, tutorials, workshops, reflective/critical thinking activities, and will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. The teaching and learning strategies are designed to scaffold students’ learning through observation, demonstration and live methods (role play and feedback) into self-reflection on the following dimensions of practice:

  • The use of self in the practitioner role
  • The stages of the social work process from engagement to completion
  • The micro-skills of counselling with individuals
  • The use of theory and ethics in practice with individuals

Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within class activities. This unit has a compulsory minimum 80% attendance requirement in both lectures and tutorials deemed necessary to achieve the intended learning outcomesAttendance record will be kept for all lectures and tutorials. With approved special consideration, students will be required to complete an additional learning activity if the 80% attendance requirement is not met. Failure to submit learning activity/ies for missed classes by the specified due date will result in a Fail grade for this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit takes an authentic assessment approach that will allow students to demonstrate their social work knowledge and skills for practice with individuals from diverse backgrounds and in various practice contexts. The first assessment is a critical reflection exercise in which students are encouraged to identify a critical incident they have experienced in their own lives. Reflecting on personal experiences encourages insight and generates new learning for students. They learn to engage with the new learning obtained through reflection and apply it effectively in other more complex situations.  Assessment 2 is a case study assignment which will assess students’ knowledge and skills in being able to conduct a social work assessment. In doing this assessment students are required to  explain the process they have used drawing from social work knowledge/theory, analyse social work skills used in the process, assess possible impact and evaluate the intervention, identify social work ethics and values they were guided by, and awareness of the impact of self and personal values and beliefs that may impact on the assessment. The final assessment which is a role-play exam, is a summative assessment which assesses the overall knowledge and skills which the students have developed in their practice with individuals. This is a compulsory assessment which the students must pass in order to undertake their field placement.

Should a student fail the role-play exam they will be offered a second chance to take the role-play exam.  This is an opportunity to achieve a Pass (PA) grade for the unit by demonstrating satisfactory attainment of specific learning outcomes.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical Reflection: the purpose of this assessment is to encourage students to think critically and reflectively about a critical incident they have encountered with the purpose of identifying new learning that will help them in enhancing their practice. 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Case Analysis: the purpose of this assessment is for students to identify a framework of social work assessment and think critically in how they will approach a social work assessment with individuals drawing on social work knowledge, skills, values and ethics. 


LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA8, GA9

Graded Hurdle Assessment: This assessment must be passed to pass the unit.

Skills Assessment: Role play Exam : this summative assessment enables students to demonstrate through a role-play the knowledge, skills, values and ethics they have acquired in the unit in preparation for their field placement.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5,  GA7, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Bolton, G. (2014). Reflective practice: writing and professional development (4th Ed.), London: Sage.

Connolly, M., & Harms, L. (2012). Social work from theory to practice. Cambridge: Cambridge   

            University Press.

Davies, K., & Jones, R. (Eds). (2016). Skills for social work practice. London: Palgrave.

Fook, J. (2007). Practicing critical reflection: a resource handbook. Maidenhead: Open 

            University Press. 

Harms, L. (2007). Working with people: communication skills for reflective practice. Sydney: 

            Oxford University Press.

Harms, L. (2010). Understanding human development: A multidimensional

             Approach (2nd ed.). Australia: Oxford University Press

Healy, K. (2014). Social work theories in context creating frameworks for practice (2nd ed.)

            New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Healy, K., & Mulholland, J. (2009). Writing skills for social workers. London: Sage Publication Maidment, J., & Egan, R. (2015). (Eds.) (3rd ed.). Practice skills in social work and 

            welfare: More than just common sense. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Milner, J., & O’Byrne, P. (2009). Assessment in social work. (3rd ed.). New York: Palgrave, Macmillan.

Payne, M. (2014). Modern social work theory (4th ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Parker, J., & Bradley, G. (2017). Social work practice: Assessment, planning, 

            intervention and review (6th ed.). Poole: Learning Matters.

Saleebey, D. (2012). The strengths perspective in social work practice. (6th ed.).Boston:

 Allyn & Bacon.

Trotter, C. (2015). Working with involuntary clients: a guide to practice. (3rd ed.). St. Leonards,

 Australia: Allen and Unwin.

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