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, workshops, small group discussions and LEO online activities.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Cross-cultural practice is essential core curriculum content as required by the Australian Association of Social Workers. Social work graduates are expected to demonstrate the essential attitudes, values, knowledge and practice skills needed by entry-level social workers to be able to work in a culturally responsive and inclusive way in any practice setting. The unit will introduce students to knowledge and skills of working with culturally and linguistically diverse population groups. Students will explore Australian migration history and social policy with an emphasis on how this impacts on the experiences of a range of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker populations and communities. Theories of acculturation and trauma will be presented within frameworks of social justice and human rights. Cross-cultural skill development will include working with interpreters. This unit contributes to the development of knowledge, attitudes, values and skills required by students for culturally responsive and inclusive practice as a component of practice outlined in the AASW Practice Standards. The aim of the unit is to provide a theoretical, knowledge and skills base encompassing adequate preparation for future effective culturally responsive social work.

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 - Articulate the impact of key historical and social policy issues on the experiences of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker populations and communities and how this shapes cultural and linguistic diversity (GA1, GA4)

LO2 - Identify ethical issues and dilemmas in cultural social work practice (GA4)

LO3 - Demonstrate a beginning understanding of the social work role and identity within culturally and linguistically diverse contexts of practice (GA5, GA7, GA8)

LO4 - Demonstrate cross-cultural skills for social work practice in culturally and linguistically diverse communities and contexts (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8)

LO5 - Apply key cultural theories within a framework of social justice and human rights for effective cross cultural social work practice (GA1, GA5, GA6)

LO6 - Critically reflect on personal and professional values when working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities (GA4)

Graduate attributes

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

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 

AASW Practice Standards

This Unit has been mapped to the ACU Graduate Attributes and the ASWEAS Profession-Specific Graduate Attributes. The following table sets out the broad relationship between the Learning Outcomes, Graduate Attributes and the ASWEAS Profession-Specific Graduate Attributes provided in the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards:  

1.Values and ethics (LO2)

2.Professionalism (LO2, LO6)

3.Culturally responsive and inclusive practice (LO4, LO6)

4.Knowledge for practice (LO1, LO5)

5.Applying knowledge to practice (LO3, LO4, LO6)

6.Communication and Interpersonal skills (LO3)

ASWEAS Profession-Specific Graduate Attributes

This Unit has been mapped to the ACU Graduate Attributes and the ASWEAS Profession-Specific Graduate Attributes. The following table sets out the broad relationship between the Learning Outcomes, Graduate Attributes and the ASWEAS Profession-Specific Graduate Attributes provided in the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards:  

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

4.1 Understand higher level systemic influences on

people with respect to area of practice

1.1 Practice in accordance with the AASW Code of


1.2 Manage ethical dilemmas and issues arising in practice

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

5.2 Work collaboratively

6.1 Communicate with a diverse range of people

3.1 Work inclusively and respectfully with cultural

difference and diversity 

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


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

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

3.1 Work inclusively and respectfully with cultural difference and diversity 

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice


Topics will include: 

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities in Australia 

  • Australian migration policy 
  • Social and language policies concerning migrants, refugees and asylum seekers 
  • Understanding racism, prejudice and white privilege 
  • Understanding culture and cultural differences 
  • Cultural relativism 
  • Mental health issues 
  • Issues of ethnic conflict, genocide and mass violence 


Theories and Practice Frameworks 

  • Human rights and social and economic justice 
  • Frameworks of social justice and human rights 
  • Theories of acculturation 
  • Theories of trauma 
  • Theories of oppression and privilege  
  • Theories of discrimination 
  • Cultural responsiveness  
  • Knowledge working with interpreters and cultural leaders 


Culturally Responsive Practice 

  • History 
  • Context 
  • Ethical standards and of cultural responsiveness 


Cultural Skills Development 

  • Skills working with interpreters and cultural leaders 
  • Working with individuals, families and children in communities 
  • settlement issues 
  • grief and loss issues 
  • separation from family, country, culture 
  • trauma and torture 
  • strength-based practice  
  • mental health issues 
  • spirituality 
  • Working with communities and groups 
  • Cultural empathy 


Ethics and Values 

  • Ethical issues and dilemmas in cross cultural practice 
  • Self awareness and reflection 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit include lectures, workshops, small group discussions, case studies, compulsory simulated role-plays and LEO online activities. Tutorials include small group collaborative reflections, discussions and simulated role-plays in order to apply theoretical content to practice situations, and allow students to develop skills in a simulated context. Online activities allow students to safely reflect and pace their own learning when engaging with potentially emotional content. Online learning also aligns with continued future professional development opportunities. Case-based learning is used to assist students better understand and apply cultural knowledge to processes required when engaging cross-culturally and within contexts of cultural and linguistic diversity. Use of cases, developed in collaboration with external partners, parallels and models authentic assessment task requirements to ensure alignment of teaching, learning and assessment. This ensures that students are initially practising and developing their understanding, attitudes and skills in learning environments to prepare them for practicing in culturally safe and responsive ways.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment approach is to begin from the student’s own self and knowledge of cultural and linguistic diversity and move towards the role and appropriate skills for social work practice. The initial assessment is designed to assess students’ ability to reflect on their own cultural identity and values, and to demonstrate knowledge and understanding about cultural diversity. Assessment 2 and 3 are authentic case-based tasks that require student to demonstrate application of social work practice knowledge and attitudes of respect and values (as outlined by ASWEAS) in culturally diverse contexts. Assessment 2 uses online and video case studies. It requires students to demonstrate understanding of racism and its impact, cultural and race theories and to demonstrate culturally safe and sensitive practice. Assessment 3 requires students to demonstrate the identification, analysis and application of cross-cultural skills and respect to a case scenario and cultural responsive practice in the context of linguistic diversity. These assessments in combination allow students to experience and demonstate preparedness of graduates to work in culturally responsive, respectful, safe and inclusive ways. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Reflective assignment:   Enables students to demonstrate their ability to reflect on their own cultural identity and how this relates to social work identity. Require students to articulate impact of history and policies on cultural and linguistic diversity


LO1, LO3, LO6

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Written assignment on racism: Students demonstrate understanding of racism and its impact and demonstrate ability to identify appropriate interventions and responses.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8

Skills assessment: Enables students to articulate and apply cross-cultural skills to a case study. 


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO6

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Allan, J., Briskman, L., & Pease B. (Eds.). (2009). Critical social work: Theories and practices for a socially just world (2nd ed.). Crows Nest, NSW Australia: Allen & Unwin. 

Clifford, D.,& Burke, B. (2009). Anti-oppressive ethics and values in social work. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Diller, J.V. (2015) Cultural diversity – A primer for the human services (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. 

Gallina, N. (2012). Cultural competence in assessment and social work interventions: Implications for practice and professional education. Bentham Science. 

How Kee, L., Martin, J., & Ow, R. (Eds). (2014). Cross-cultural social work: Local and global. Palgrave Macmillan 

Hugman, R. (2012). Culture, values and ethics in social work : embracing diversity. Abindon, Oxon: Routledge. 

Pease, B. (2010). Undoing privilege: Unearned advantage in a divided world. London, Zed Books. 

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

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

Wing, S., & McGoldrick, M. (2015). Multicultural social work practice (2nd ed.).  New Jersey: Wiley.  

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