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

This unit aims to equip students with key concepts and practical skills when working with people of colour and other marginalised groups. As social workers are often working with people of colour, they have a responsibility to understand and respond to their specific needs, as well as be aware of how racism shapes their experiences. Students will learn about the relationship between racial injustice and social inequalities and develop anti-racist principles and skills. This unit is essential core curriculum content as required by the Australian Association of Social Workers, attending to the practice standard of Culturally responsive and inclusive practice. In the first half of the unit, the emphasis is on developing racial literacy, with a focus on how racialized categories have been produced, and how they shape inequalities across race. The second half will turn to the knowledge and skills of working with people of colour and other marginalised groups . Students will explore Australian migration history and social policy with an emphasis on how these impact on the experiences of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker populations and communities. Concepts of white privilege, white supremacy, power and racialised inequality, will be presented within frameworks of social justice and human rights. Cross-cultural skill development will include working with interpreters, and anti-racist strategies. 

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 - Understand the impact of key historical and social policy issues on the experiences of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker populations and communities (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6)

LO2 - Identify personal and professional values and ethical issues in anti-racist practice (GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Demonstrate social work skills within culturally and linguistically diverse contexts of practice (GA1, GA2, GA5, GA7, GA8)

LO4 - Develop racial literacy and understand key theories of race  (GA4, GA5, GA6)

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognize the 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

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:  

GA 1.Values and ethics (LO2)

GA 2. Professionalism (LO2)

GA 3.Culturally responsive and inclusive practice (LO4)

GA 4. Knowledge for practice (LO1)

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

GA 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


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

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice 

3.1 Work inclusively and respectfully with cultural difference and diversity

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

6.1 Effectively communicate with a diverse range of people

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



Topics will include: 

Racism, identity and culture

  • Racism, white privilege and inequality in Australian social work : Eurocentrism
  • Australian Social and language policies for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

Theories and Practice Frameworks 

  • Anti-racism and decolonising theories
  • Whiteness theory and critical race theory
  • Intersectionality
  • Theories of trauma 
  • Cultural responsiveness 
  • Skills and approaches 
  • Self- awareness and critical reflection
  • Developing anti-racist skills, strategies, and practices
  • Working with interpreters
  • Becoming an ally: advocacy and activism

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, lived experience, storytelling and story-sharing, and compulsory simulated role-plays. 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. Case-based learning is used to assist students to 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 service providers, 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 practising in culturally safe and responsive ways. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessments 1 and 2 are authentic case-based tasks that require students to demonstrate application of social work skills, practice knowledge and attitudes in white-dominated contexts. Assessment 1 is a group work task that uses online and video case studies. It requires students to demonstrate understanding of racism and its impact, cultural and race theories and to demonstrate tangible responses to racism. Assessment 2 requires students to apply knowledge of anti-racist practice and cross-cultural skills to a case scenario involving people of colour. The final assessment, a critical learning journal, is designed to assess students’ ability to reflect on each week’s unit content and how this knowledge has facilitated a growing understanding of their own cultural identity and values and its impacts on their future social work identity. In order to pass the unit, students must submit all pieces of assessments and PASS at least two assessments in order to achieve all the learning outcomes of the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group presentation on racism: Students demonstrate understanding of racism and its impact and demonstrate ability to apply theories of race.


LO1, LO3, LO4

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

Skills assessment: Enables students to articulate anti-racist skills and values and develop a mock intervention plan to a case study.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

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

Reflective assignment:   Captures learning and development over time and enables students to demonstrate their ability to reflect on their racial identity, and how this relates to their social work identity. 


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

Dominelli, L. (2017). Anti-racist social work. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Dune, T., Caputi, P., Walker, B. M., Olcon, K., MacPhail, C., Firdaus, R., & Thepsourinthone, J. (2021). Construing Non-white and White Clients: Mental Health Practitioners’ Superordinate Constructs Related to Whiteness and Non-whiteness in Australia. Journal of Constructivist Psychology.

Gatwiri, K., & Anderson, L. (2021). Parenting Black children in White spaces: Skilled African migrants reflect on their parenting experiences in Australia. Child & Family Social Work, 26(1), 153-162.

Gatwiri, K., & Anderson, L. (2021). Boundaries of belonging: Theorizing Black African migrant experiences in Australia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(1), 38.

Hamad, R. (2020). White Tears Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Colour. Hachette UK.

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

Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. One world.

Lentin, A. (2020). Why race still matters. John Wiley & Sons.

Nipperess, S., & Williams, C. (Eds.). (2020). Critical Multicultural Practice in Social Work: New Perspectives And Practices. Routledge.

Oluo, I. (2019). So you want to talk about race. Hachette UK.

Ramsay, G. (2016). Black mothers, bad mothers: African refugee women and the governing of ‘Good’ Citizens through the Australian child welfare system. Australian Feminist Studies, 31(89), 319-335.

Saad, L. (2020). Me and white supremacy: How to recognise your privilege, combat racism and change the world. Hachette UK.

Tascón, S. M., & Ife, J. (Eds.). (2019). Disrupting whiteness in social work. Routledge.

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