SWSP4023 Indigenous Social Work

Level: Bachelor
Credit Points: Six
Prerequisites: Successful completion of all Level 100 and 200 units
Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus (Sydney)
Core/elective: Core

Unit Description

This unit introduces students to the diversity of social, cultural and political situations in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live. Indigenous theory and practice as a new framework for influencing social work knowledge and practice is also explored.  

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. Identify specific ways of ‘doing’ and ‘being’ from an Indigenous perspective.
  2. Demonstrate respect for Indigenous culture, attitudes and values and acknowledge its complexity, richness and contribution to Australia’s heritage and wellbeing.
  3. Articulate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' history of contact with non-Indigenous Australians and the social welfare system, and how the experience of racism and colonialism impacts on culture, family, language, kinship and moiety.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of legislative and policy practices that serve and restrict Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing and cultural heritage.
  5. Articulate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldview for use in practice and supervision sessions.
  6. Undertake respectful engagement and consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and acknowledge both their resilience and vulnerability.
  7. Identify their own racist behaviour and work at minimising its impact.

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

  • Muller, L. (2014). A theory for Indigenous Australian health and human service work: Connecting Indigenous knowledge and practice. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Recommended Readings

  • Bennett, B., Green, S., Gilbert, S., & Bessarab, D. (2012). Our voices: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social work. Melbourne, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Briskman, L. (2014). Social work with Indigenous communities: A human rights approach (2nd ed.). Leichhardt, Australia: The Federation Press.
  • Connell, R. W. (2007). Southern theory: The global dynamics of knowledge in social science. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Fejo-King, C. (2013). Let’s talk kinship: Innovating Australian social work education, theory, research, practice through Aboriginal knowledge. Torrens, Australia: Christine Fejo-King Consulting.
  • Gray, M., Coates, J., & Yellow Bird, M. (2008). Indigenous social work around the world: Towards a culturally relevant education and practice. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Ling, H. K., Martin, J., & Ow, R. (Eds.) (2014). Cross-cultural social work: Local and global. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ranzijn, R., McConnochie, K., & Nolan, W. (2009). Psychology and Indigenous Australians: Foundations of cultural competence. South Yarra, 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.