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

Human service workers can expect to work with children, young people and families in many different practice contexts and therefore require specific knowledge and skills to work effectively.

The unit introduces theories of child and youth development and provides opportunities for skills development for working with children, young people, and families. Ethical issues that impact on working with children, young people and families will be explored in relation to the development of human service practice responses that reflect a commitment to social justice. The unit will include a module on Working with children, young people and vulnerable adults that will focus on responding to concerns and beginning skills for evidence-based assessment strategies to keep ourselves and intervention with children, young people and families, safe.

The aim of this unit is for students to develop knowledge and skills necessary for working with children, young people and families from diverse backgrounds and in a range of practice contexts, including child protection.

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 - Demonstrate an understanding of policies and strategies for building safe and supportive environments for working with children, young people and vulnerable adults (GA1, GA5)

LO2 - Demonstrate beginning knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and family life and how it informs human service practice with children and youth (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO3 - Apply knowledge of professional ethics in practice with children, youth and families from diverse backgrounds (GA3, GA9)

LO4 - Demonstrate practice skills in conducting child, youth and family assessments through case study and simulation (GA5, GA8)

LO5 - Demonstrate through case study and simulation, beginning skills of reflective practice in work with children, youth and families from diverse backgrounds (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 

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

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


Topics will include:

Contemporary contexts of human service practice

  • Children in refugee context
  • Children with disabilities
  • Young people in the youth justice system
  • Children in out of home care
  • Statutory family practice
  • Child protection practice
  • Children and young people as carers

Knowledge relevant for working with children, youth and families in human service contexts

  • Child development
  • Family life cycle
  • Trauma
  • Parent-child attachment
  • Practice theories and models
  • Social policies and programs

Strategies, techniques and interventions

  • Case management (e.g., case planning, family group conferences)
  • Solution focused approaches
  • Trauma-informed approaches
  • Child centred practice
  • Family centred practice
  • Collaborative inter-disciplinary practice

Knowledge and skills for work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and their communities in the context of child, youth and family social work

  • Community and family life, including country, language and kinship
  • Critical analysis of attachment theory as it relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander families
  • Alternate practice frameworks which are informed by cultural knowledge and perspectives


  • Professional ethics, social justice and human rights framework in work with families, children and young people

Skill development

  • Effective communication skills in conducting assessment and intervention
  • Critically reflective use of self

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 a combination of face-to-face lectures and interactive skill-building tutorials. Lectures provide detailed content on knowledge which informs practice with children, young people and families. Guest lectures from practitioners will also be incorporated when available, to provide students real-world examples of practice with children, young people or families. Interactive tutorials incorporate small group reflective and skills exercises to allow students to link theory and knowledge with their emerging practice. Case-based learning is utilised allowing students to acquire knowledge and beginning skills in assessment frameworks and intervention strategies. A focus on critical reflection and ethical use of self in tutorials and assessments ensures pedagogical alignment between teaching, learning and assessment.

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

As a hurdle requirement, students are required to complete the ACU Working with children, young people and vulnerable adults’ online module. This ensures that students are able to respond to child safety in a manner that is endorsed and supported by ACU policy.

This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency to currently relevant practice scenarios. The assessments are designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of theories that inform this area of practice as well as demonstrate their developing skills in critical reflection of self, and holistic assessment an intervention planning for families. 

The first assignment requires students to consider social context and their own experiences, and the ways this may influence family experiences and their human service practice. In assessment 2 students are required to demonstrate knowledge of relevant theory on child and youth development and family assessment and interventions. Following formative feedback on assessment 2, students must then apply this knowledge by assessing needs and developing an intervention plan for a complex family scenario in assessment 3. Passing this final assessment ensures students have beginning skills in family assessment and intervention, delivered in an authentic report format for practice. Students are required to reflect on ethical issues, as well as professional and personal values when responding to the case study, ensuring a thoughtful approach to practice that can manage bias, consider alternative perspectives, and assess and respond to risk.

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

ACU Working with children, young people and vulnerable adults module: Requires students to successfully complete the ACU training module to demonstrate understanding of the importance of the wellbeing and safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults


LO1, LO3,


GA1, GA3, GA5

GA8, GA9

Reflective assignment : Requires students to demonstrate critical understanding on concepts of family and childhood, the influence of social context, and to reflect on use of self in the area of practice with children, young people and families


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9

Written assignment: Requires students to demonstrate understanding on child and adolescent development and a family intervention practice model and how they could apply these theories in their emerging social work practice


LO1, LO2,,LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3,

GA4, GA5, GA9

Case study/Case analysis: Requires students to identify and develop the key social work skills necessary for conducting social work assessments and intervention with families


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, 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.

Arney, F. (2013). Working with vulnerable families: a partnership approach (2nd ed.) Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

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

Briskman, L. (2014). Social Work with Indigenous communities (2nd ed). Sydney: Federation Press.

Collins, D., Jordan, C., & Coleman, H. (2013). An introduction to family social work (4th ed.) Belmont, California: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.

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

Featherstone, B., White, S. & Morris,K. (2014), Re-imagining Child Protection: Towards humane social work with families. Bristol: Policy Press.

Geldard, K., & Geldard, D (2016). Counselling adolescents: The proactive approach for young people. London: Sage.

Geldard, K., Geldard, D., & Foo, R. Y. (2017). Counselling children: A practical introduction (5th ed). London: Sage.

Mainstone, F. (2014). Mastering whole family assessment in social work: Balancing the needs of children, adults and their families. London. Jessica Kingsley.

Munro, E. (2012). Effective child protection (2nd ed). London: Sage.

Trotter,C. (2013). Collaborative work with families: a practical guide to working with families in the human services.  Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Welbourne, P., & Dixon, J. (Eds.). (2013). Child protection and child welfare: A global appraisal of cultures, policy and practice. London: Jessica Kingsley.

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