SWSP3043 Interpersonal, Family and Structural Violence

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: Successful completion of a minimum of four Level 200 units
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

Violence against women is widespread. Globally, one in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime (World Health Organisation, 2016). Cutting across class, ethnicity, age, culture and religion, intimate partner violence disproportionately affects women and children. Globally, 95% of perpetrators of domestic homicide are male (Walby et al., 2017). This unit aims to deepen students’ knowledge of intimate partner violence and structural violence through theory and practice, research, policy, law, with particular reference to the relevance of intersectionality. The focus will be the complex, interlinked experiences of domestic violence and sexual assault in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIQ+ people, and women with a disability and the key challenges and barriers to service provision for these communities. The unit provides students with essential competencies to work as social workers with survivors and perpetrators of intimate partner violence as well as greater understandings of how domestic violence and sexual assault is produced within systemic, structural and cultural contexts.

Unit Workload

The unit is taught over two weekend blocks: on Saturday and Sunday from 9am and 6pm on the weeks specified. This includes time for morning and afternoon tea and an hour for lunch each day. In order to pass this unit, students must attend both weekend blocks.

Class time will be a highly participatory, facilitated discussion of unit materials and assessments, watching and listening to supplementary resources, student presentations, guest lectures and small group activities. Course materials will be available in the online class space from the first week of the trimester. In addition to the class time, students are expected to set aside about a week of private study to prepare for the first weekend, and about another week before the second weekend intensive. The focus should be doing the set readings for each lecture before coming to class. In addition, assessments need to be planned, researched and delivered inside and outside of class time. You will need to allow plenty of private research time for this, too, in the lead-up to each assessment.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the definitions, prevalence, underlying causes, tactics and impacts of intimate partner violence on those affected,
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how intimate partner violence is shaped by social and cultural values and institutional racism, sexism, abelism and homophobia,
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of, and critically evaluate, the roles and responsibilities of civil society (NGOs), the judiciary, media, government and community in preventing and reducing intimate partner violence,
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of key considerations for social workers in supporting victim-survivors, working with perpetrators and advocating for a violence-free society.

Learning and Teaching Approach

  1. Learning is an active process involving 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. In particular, this unit offers a reflection on beliefs about gender, the role of women and men in family settings, masculinity, and more.
  5. Learning requires integration with prior knowledge and other arenas of knowledge development in the program.
  6. Teaching includes the presentation of the best available literature in the field.
  7. 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

  • There is no set textbook for this unit.

Recommended Readings

  • Barnett, O. W., Miller-Perrin, C. L., & Perrin, R. D. (2011). Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Braithwaite, J. & Strang, H. (2002). Restorative justice and family violence. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cleaver, H., Nicholson, D., Tarr, S., & Cleaver, D. (2007). Child protection, domestic violence, and parental substance misuse: Family experiences and effective practice. London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Ellsberg, M., & Heise, L. (2005). Researching violence against women: A practical guide for researchers and activists. Washington, DC: World Health Organization, PATH.
  • Galtung, J. (2010). A theory of development: Overcoming structural violence. Oslo, Norway: TRANSCEND University Press.
  • Jackson, N. A. (2013). Encyclopaedia of domestic violence. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis.
  • Leech, G. (2012). Capitalism: A structural genocide. London, England: Zed Books.
  • Lombard, N., & McMillan, L. (Eds.) (2013). Violence against women: Current theory and practice in domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation. London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Loseke, D. R., Gelles, R. J., & Cavanaugh, M. M. (Eds.) (2005). Current controversies on family violence. London, England: SAGE Publications.
  • Magnani, L. (2011). Understanding violence: The intertwining of morality, religion and violence: A philosophical stance. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • McClennen, J. C. (2010). Social work and family violence: Theories, assessments and intervention. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
  • Pease, B., & Camilleri, P. (Eds.) (2001). Working with men in the human service. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Renzetti, C. M., Edleson, J. L., & Kennedy Bergen, R. (2013). Sourcebook on violence against women (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Strang, H., & Braithwaite, J. (Eds.) (2002). Restorative justice and family violence. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.


  • 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.