SWSP1003 Introduction to Human Services

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: None
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit introduces students to the human services sector. It will identify the historical factors, theories, philosophical and legal building blocks that shaped its development and underpin its policies and service provision, currently. Theories and debates will be explored within specific fields of practice and specific population groups. The role of social welfare workers within and outside the state will be explored. The ways in which legal processes, framework and responsibilities are framed within social work's role and responsibilities is outlined and future concerns are identified.

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week. This includes timetabled class time and private study time.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the historical development of the welfare state and the role of human service workers play both within and outside the state.
  2. Identify key theories and debates as well as key legislative judgements and analyse their impact on service provision, service users and human service workers.
  3. Describe the nature of disadvantage and how this discourse marginalises certain social and cultural groups, such as women, young people, refugees, people with disabilities, the unemployed, the homeless, elderly, remote communities and Indigenous Australians and their responses to this marginalisation.
  4. Describe how Government policies and practices and legal requirements are developed and delivered to address disadvantage.
  5. Articulate an analysis of how effective practice and policy responses are and the challenges posed by the push towards globalisation, privatisation and neo-liberalism.
  6. Articulate contemporary practice strategies for working in the human services that work towards the broader goal of social justice and human rights, and individual and community advocacy and empowerment. 
  7. Explore the many issues facing the Australian welfare state for the future.

Learning and Teaching Approach

  1. Learning is an active process – which involves both questioning and challenging.
  2. Learning is a shared process – where others’ thoughts and ideas are presented, critically analysed, exchanged and respected.
  3. Learning is a collaborative and empowering process for self and others.
  4. Learning is thoughtful and reflective.
  5. Learning requires integration with prior knowledge and other arenas of knowledge development in the program.
  6. Preparation for lectures and seminars and reading the recommended texts and references is essential.

The content of this unit has been designed to maximise both online and face-to-face learning to integrate the subject matter.

Students are expected to:

  • Complete all activities
  • Complete readings
  • Complete all assessments
  • Attend all classes

It is also recommended that students:

  • Keep a record of new terminology that is introduced in this unit
  • Keep a copy of assessments and other correspondence
  • Make notes on unit content and readings

There will be learning activities linked to all lecture materials which are designed to encourage students to deliberate and reflect and to provide opportunities for further learning. The activities are designed to help students think through and practise the specific skills and general concepts presented in this unit as well as provide valuable learning opportunities.


Recommended Texts

  • Alston, M., McCurdy, S., & McKinnon, J. (Eds.) (2018). Social work fields of practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford Uni Press.
  • Chenoweth, L ., & McAuliffe, D. (2018). The road to social work and human service practice (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.

Recommended Readings

  • Alston, M. (2009). Innovative human service practice: Australia’s changing landscape. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Carson, E., & Kerr, L. (Eds.) (2014). Australian social policy and the human services. Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gardner, F. (2006). Working in human services organisations: Creating connections for practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Hong Chui, W., & Wilson, J. (Eds.) (2006). Social work and human services best practice. Annandale, Australia: The Federation Press.
  • Kennedy, R., Richards, J., & Leiman, T. (2013). Integrating human service law, ethics and practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Marston, G., McDonald, C., & Bryson, L. (2014). The Australian welfare state: Who benefits now?. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • O'Connor, I., Wilson, J., Settlerlund, D., & Hughes, M. (2008). Social work and human service practice (5th ed.). Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.
  • O’Hara, A., & Pocket, R. (2011). Skills for human service work: Working with individuals, groups and communities. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Ozanne, O., & Rose, D. (2013). The organisational context of human service practice. Melbourne, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.


  • Australian Social Work
  • ADVANCES: Journal of Social Work and Welfare Education
  • Australian Journal of Social Issues
  • Critical Social Work
  • Journal of Social Work Education (USA)
  • Journal of Social Work (UK)

Academic Misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to http://currentstudents.acap.edu.au/assets/Managing-My-Course/A-Z-Policies/Academic-Misconduct-Policy.pdf for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the trimester. For a list of required textbooks for the upcoming trimester, please click here.