Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 Hours of focussed learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

Skills in interpersonal communication, assessment and intervention are essential to human service practice to ensure quality service outcomes.

This unit will explore the theories underpinning practice and identify practice frameworks for engagement, assessment, planning, intervention and review when working with individuals. The ethical principles and values underpinning human service practice with individuals will be explored through examples of a range of ethical issues that confront practitioners. The unit includes a component of experiential learning which provides students with practice in interpersonal communication skills and opportunity to reflect of their developing practice skills and personal and professional values that inform their approach.

The aim of this unit is for students to develop knowledge and skills in effective interpersonal communication skills and sound ethical practice when working with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and in diverse contexts.

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 frameworks, processes and theories for practice with individuals across a range of welfare and health contexts (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5) 

LO2 - Demonstrate practice skills in engagement, assessment, planning, intervention and review (GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8)

LO3 - Demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and in a range of practice contexts (GA7, GA9)

LO4 - Critically reflect on the influence of personal and professional values and apply ethical principles to a range of ethical issues in practice (GA1, GA2, 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 


Topics will include:

Professional processes for working with individuals

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

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

Different assessment approaches

  • assessment tools
  • genograms
  • ecomaps
  • cultragrams
  • 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 Models

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

Values and Ethics in practice

  • 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 human service practice
  • professionalism
  • information recording and sharing
  • professional development and supervision

Building safe and supportive environments for working with children, young people and vulnerable adults

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with 36 hours of face-to-face lectures, and skills development tutorials. This unit prepares students for direct and face to face communication, relationship building, assessment and report writing with clients in human service practice settings. The unit encourages student development in self-awareness, written and verbal reflection on practice, assessment and synthesis and analysis of information. Teaching and learning strategies for this unit include lectures, small group discussions and skill development workshops, including case studies, roleplay and reflection on practice activities.

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

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 Written Reflection on a videorecording case study that develops students’ critical reflection skills and ability to identify key practice skills for client engagement; a Case Study Analysis which enables students to apply knowledge to a case study and demonstrate their ability to formulate an assessment and intervention plan and a Roleplay Skills Assessment. The Roleplay Skills Assessment comprises 1) a prepared videorecording of a ‘worker – client interview using set case scenarios, and 2) oral and written reflections of student performance in the videorecording.

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 Critical Reflection of a brief videorecording demonstrating at least one interview skill – develops students critical reflection skills and ability to identify key practice skills for client engagement


LO1, LO3, LO4

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

Case Analysis – enables students to apply knowledge to a case study and demonstrate their ability to formulate an assessment and intervention plan


LO1, LO2, LO4

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

Role Play SW Practice Skill Assessment: enables student to demonstrate key skills in client engagement, initial assessment, goal setting and intervention planning

Review, reflection and discussion of submitted videorecording with lecturer

Part A: Skills assessment based on a submitted video recording of a role play client interview (20%)

Part B: Written reflection submitted with video recording (15%)

Part C: Written reflection, submitted post- review with Lecturer (5%)


LO2, LO3, LO4

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

Representative texts and references

Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (2013). Submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Issues Paper 3 – Child Safe Institutions Principles for Child Safety in Organisations.

Bennett, B., Green, S., Gilbert, S., Bessarab, D (Eds.) (2013) Our Voices: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Work. South Yarra; Palgrave Macmillan.

Chenoweth, L., & McAuliffe, D. (2012). The road to social work and human service practice. An introductory text (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: 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 Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice (2nd ed.). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

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

Ivey, A.E., & Ivey, M.B. (2010). Intentional interviewing and counselling: facilitating client development in a multi-cultural society. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks Cole.

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

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.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs