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

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: Successful completion of a minimum of four Level 100 units
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
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.

Unit Workload

The workload for this unit is nine hours per week. This includes thirteen weeks of three hours of class time on campus. This time will be used for interactions with students to facilitate discussion of unit materials and assessments, presentations and group activities.  Course material will be available in the online class space. In addition to the 3 hours class time, students are expected to engage in 6 hours of private study per week.

Learning Outcomes

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

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

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

  • Adams, R. (Ed.) (2011). Working with children and families: Knowledge and context for practice. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Maidment, J., Egan, R. (eds), Practice skills in social work and welfare: More than just common sense (3rd ed., pp. 19-34). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

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 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.