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PUBH100 Foundations of Public Health OR PUBH102 Foundations of Health Promotion

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

Community engagement is an essential component of effective public health practice. Theoretical aspects are covered in a range of units within the public health curriculum. This unit provides an opportunity for students to explore the practical aspects of community engagement through placement with organisations that enhance the dignity and wellbeing of people and communities, especially those who are the most marginalised and disadvantaged. Students will undertake work in a selected public sector or non-profit community agency/organisation related to Public Health, to explore the role and complexities of the organisation in supporting disadvantaged individuals and families experiencing socially-determined health issues. The aims of this unit are to assist the host organisation to enhance public health; and for students to develop and reflect upon the values of partnership, equality, mutual respect and commitment as well as the degree of transformation that community engagement can offer participants. 

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Explain the principles and focus of community engagementGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7
LO2Demonstrate a knowledge of the mission, aims, objectives and functions of various public sector and non-profit organisations that support and enhance the health of disadvantaged individuals and families in the communityGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7
LO3Identify and address factors that can impact on the roles and functions of public health professionals within the selected public sector or non-profit organisationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7
LO4Reflect critically upon the personal transformation that has occurred through the placement experiencesGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7
LO5Demonstrate an understanding of the importance, policies and strategies for building safe and supportive environments for working with specific vulnerable populationsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7


Topics will include: 

Principles of community engagement 

  • Respect for human dignity 
  • Mutuality and reciprocity 
  • Forging partnerships for transformation 

Focus of community engagement 

  • Local/State 
  • National 
  • International

Organisation mission, aims, objectives, functions 

  • Relevance 
  • Connections between concepts 

Health care professionals in public sector and non-profit organisations 

  • Roles and functions 
  • Factors impacting on roles and functions 


  • Legal issues 
  • Ethical issues 
  • Risk management 
  • Preparation of student 
  • Development of learning contract 

Values underpinning volunteerism experience related to 

  • Relationships between staff, clients and families 
  • Roles and functions of staff and clients 

Transformation engendered in student through community engagement experience. 

Socially-determined health issues 

  • Possible causes 
  • Effect on clients of organization 

Building safe and supportive environments working with specific vulnerable populations 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered primarily through a work-integrated learning framework, supplemented by face-to-face workshop sessions on campus. The unit uses an active learning approach where activities support students to acquire essential theoretical knowledge in public health community engagement relevant to the specific workplace of their placement. Online content (e.g. readings) via Canvas also support this acquisition. Workshops provide students with the opportunity to apply workplace experiences to broader public health contexts/scenarios, and progressively develop higher level skills of analysis and application of theory in public health community engagement. 

Students will be placed in host organisations approved by the ACU Public Health National Professional Practice Coordinator and the campus LIC. Learning and performance will be determined by the University and the appointed fieldwork supervisor through a predefined and monitored set of criteria including skills and outcomes expected to be achieved. The fieldwork will comprise a minimum of 80 hours. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Achievement of learning outcomes will be determined by a variety of assessment methods, which will primarily measure the student’s understanding of the discipline specific knowledge inherent in this unit and its application within a professional context.  

A learning contract will be developed by the student in conjunction with their placement supervisor to determine specific context relevant learning goals, and associated evidence that will be produced to demonstrate their achievement. This is ungraded, however is a mandatory hurdle that must be approved by the placement coordinator. 

A summary of tasks and associated hours will be compiled in a timesheet and uploaded at the conclusion of the placement as proof that the requisite 80 hours have been completed by the student. 

A brief table summary task will require students to identify a range of currently advertised positions within the public health field and provide an initial analysis of their own work readiness for the field. The descriptive nature of this assessment, and minimal word count are reflected in the weighting. 

Students will undertake a major critical literature review focusing on a public health community issue, which affects a group of people who experience disadvantage or marginalization. Students will prepare a review plan that identifies key sources and topics to be covered, providing an opportunity for formative assessment before submitting the final assessment. The paper will require students to think critically and research the larger social problems that relate to this issue (e.g., structural inequality, a lack of appropriately funded social services), and identify programs or policies that effectively address or relate to this issue. Further, the review will evaluate engagement methods that are shown to be effective when connecting or working with people affected by this issue.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Learning Contract: To enable students to focus their learning goals during placement


LO1, LO2

Timesheet: To enable confirmation that student has undertaken required hours on placement.


Assessment Task 1: Job activity: To enable students to demonstrate basic job search and analysis skills relevant to their sector



Assessment Task 2 Report: To enable students to demonstrate their achievements and analysis of the placement experience.


LO1, LO3, LO5

Assessment Task 3 Journal: To enable students to critically reflect on their goals and apply reflection frameworks within community engagement.


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Carson, B., Dunbar, T., Chenhall, R. & Bailie, R. (Eds) (2007) Social determinants of Indigenous Health Crows News, NSW: Allen & Unwin. 


Danalis, J. (2009) Riding the Black Cockatoo Chicago: Allen & Unwin. 


Eckermann, A-K., Dowd, T., Chong, E., Nixon, L., Gray, R., & Johnson, S. (2010). Binan goonj: Bridging cultures in Aboriginal health (3rd ed.). Marrickville, NSW: Elsevier Australia. 


Egan, L., Butcher, J., Ralph, K. (2008). Hope as a basis for understanding the benefits and possibilities of community engagement. Strathfield, NSW: The Institute for Advancing Community Engagement, Australian Catholic University.


Mackay, H. (2013) Good life: what makes a life worth living? Sydney: Pan MacMillian. 


Singer, P. (2010) The life you can save: acting now to end world poverty Melbourne: Text Publishing. 


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.  


Wortley, R & Smallbone, S (2006) Applying situational Principles to Sexual Offenses against Children, Monsey NY: Criminal Justice Press. 


Wortley R & Smallbone, S (Eds) Situational prevention of child sexual abuse, Monsey NY: Criminal Justice Press. 

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