SWSP1043 Government, Public Policy and Civil Society

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

Unit Description

This unit looks at the Australian political processes and institutions and the way Governments, through ideology and public policy, including social policy, influence the formation of a certain type of citizenry and a civil society, nationally and internationally. The role of social workers in the human services sector is explored in this context.

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 ideologies that underpin the political processes in Australia.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the structures, processes and relationships that lie “behind” the public face of Government in Australia.
  3. Describe the complex set of relationships and range of players and their competing interests in the socio-political, cultural and economic discourses of the times.
  4. Articulate what a civil society looks like and how stable this definition is.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of concepts, such as civil society, public good, power, elites, wealth, inequality, discourse, justice and democracy and explain how they are produced and to what effect.
  6. Describe how the interconnectedness and interdependence with global societies, politics and cultures are producing a ‘global world’ and a ‘global citizen’.

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 Text

  • Fenna, A., Robbins, J., & Summers, J. (2013). Government and politics in Australia (10th ed.). Sydney, Australia: Pearson Education.

Recommended Readings

  • Adams, R. (2002). Social policy for social work. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Baldock, J. (2010). Social policy (4th ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  • Banaszak, L. A. (2010). The women’s movement inside and outside the state. New York, NY: Cambridge Press.
  • Carson, E., & Kerr, L. (2014). Australian social policy and the human services. Port Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chenoweth, L., & McAuliffe, D. (2015). The road to social work and human service practice (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.
  • Cunningham, S., & Cunningham, J. (2012). Social policy and social work: An introduction. Los Angeles, CA: Learning Matters.
  • Fawcett, B., Goodwin, S., Meagher, G., & Phillips, R. (2010). Social policy for social change. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jamrozik, A. (2009). Social policy in the post-welfare state: Australian society in a changing world. Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.
  • Marston, G., & McDonald, C. (2009). Analysing social policy: A governmental approach. Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar.
  • Marston, G., McDonald, C., & Bryson, L. (2014). The Australian welfare state: Who benefits now?. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • McClelland, A., & Smyth, P. (2009). Social policy in Australia: Understanding for action. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.  
  • Reisch, M. (2014). Social policy and social justice. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.


  • 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.