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SWSP2033 Social Work Theory and Practice (Individuals, Children and Families)

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: None
Mode(s) of delivery: Online
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit explores the complexity of practice faced by social workers engaged in individual and family work with the aim to work towards effective outcomes for their individual and social wellbeing, and life chances. In this course you will harness your critical social work skills and explore the practical considerations of ethical dilemmas, cultural identity, power and gender analysis when working with individuals and families. You will investigate the application of using Anti-Oppressive theory, with a strengths based practice framework when working in a range of different fields of practice, with child protection forming the main practical focus. Students will be invited to engage in critical personal reflection of their understanding of family, challenge the construction of what family means and explore the changing social, cultural, political and historical context in which practice decisions are made.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Explore critical, strength-based and anti-oppressive theory to practice with individuals and families.
  2. Locate individual and family issues within social, cultural and political conditions
  3. Critically explore the values, assumptions and challenges in working with families that present with complex/ multiple issues in the community, and range of social work responses.
  4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethical challenges relating to culture, gender, age and power and strategies to work in an anti-oppressive, strengths-based manner.
  5. Apply practice skills, assessment skills, resource & networking skills to working with individuals and families.
  6. Consider the challenge of working critically within the current socio-political culture of managerialism and neo-liberalism.

Learning and Teaching Process

This unit is taught over 12 weeks and totals 3 student contact hours per week.  

Students will participate in teaching and learning activities including:  

a)     Lectures and critical discussion 

b)     Tutorials and skill development activities  

c)     Online pre-learning activities 

d)     Online post-learning  

Depending on the delivery mode, this unit’s content is delivered to students via 

  • A weekly 3 hour learning session [via Zoom]. One hour will be didactive material delivered in lecture format. Two hours will be interactive class time, for discussion of the lecture, readings, assessments and class activities. 

In addition to timetabled contact hours, students are expected to do at least 6 hours of personal study each week to review lectures and read prescribed and recommended materials for this unit. The total individual workload of this unit will be around 9 hours (including teamwork, individual self-study and reading).  


Recommended Text

No set text

Recommended Readings

  • Anglem, J. & Maidment, J. (2012). Introduction to collaborative assessment. In J. Maidment & R. Egan (Eds.), Practice skills in social work and welfare: More than just common sense (2nd ed., pp. 133-147). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Cashmore, J. (2012) Child Protection and out of home care. Chapter 12 In J. Bowes, R. Grace & K. Hodge (Eds), Children, families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th ed., pp. 74- 91). South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.
  • Cocker, C., & Allain, L. (Eds.) (2011). Advanced social work with children and families. Exeter, England: Learning Matters.
  • Crichton-Hill, Y. (2012). Working with families. In J. Maidment and R. Egan (Eds.), Practice skills in social work & welfare: More than just common sense (2nd ed., pp. 181-201). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Geggie, J. Weston, R., Hayes, A. & Silberberg, S. (2007). The shaping of strengths and challenges of Australian families. Marriage & Family Review, 41(3-4), 217-239.
  • Goldsworthy, K. (2005). Grief and loss theory in social work practice: All changes involve loss, just as all losses require change, Australian Social Work, 58(2), 167-178.
  • Gray, M. (2011). Back to basics: A critique of the strengths perspective in social work. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 92(1), 5-11.
  • Iveson, C. (2002). Solution-focused brief therapy. Journal of Continuing Professional Development, 8, 149-156.
  • McAuliffe, D. (2005). I’m still standing: Impacts and consequences of ethical dilemmas in social work practice. Journal of Social Work Values & Ethics, 2(1), 1-11.
  • McGoldrick, Giordano, & Garcia-Preto (2006). Overview Ethnicity and family therapy In Ethnicity and family therapy, 3rd Edition, New York, Guildford Publications.
  • Miller, R. (2012). Engagement with families involved in the statutory system. In J. Maidment and R. Egan (Eds.), Practice skills in social work and welfare: More than just common sense (2nd ed.) (pp. 114-130). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen and Unwin.
  • Milner, J., & O’Byrne, P. (2002). Assessment in social work (2nd ed., pp. 49-67). Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Potito, C., Day, A., Carson, E., & O'Leary. P. (2009). Domestic violence and child protection: Partnerships and collaboration. Australian Social Work, 62(3), 369-387.
  • Rawsthorne, M. (2009). Just like other families? Supporting lesbian-parented families. Australian Social Work, 62(1), 45-60.
  • Reimer, E. (2013). Relationship-based practice with families where child neglect is an issue: Putting relationship development under the microscope. Australian Social Work, 66(3), 455-470.
  • Silverstein, Rachelle, et al. (2006). What does it mean to be relational? A framework for assessment and practice. Family Process 45(4), 391-405.


  • 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 the Academic Misconduct Policy for full details.


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.