SWSP6023 Current Issues in Professional Practice – Fields of Practice

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

Unit Description

This unit explores major contemporary issues facing social work practice today. In particular, students will explore current scholarship and research about mental health practice, working with children, youth and families, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Issues concerning employment, health, abuse, neglect, trauma and colonialism, resilience and diversity will also be discussed in the socio-political and cultural context of these specific fields of practice.

This unit also focuses on a number of areas of practice, including mental health, working with children, young people and families and with Indigenous Australians. The historical development of social policy in each of these areas will be explored, together with an analysis of current social policies, and discussions about the implications for social workers practicing in these fields.

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. Critically reflect on current fields of social work practice and communities of interest, identifying specific roles and responsibilities for practice.
  2. Link current social work theories and methods to specific practice fields and assess their impact on targeted groups.
  3. Explore contemporary debates about gender, globalisation, post-colonialism and internationalisation, and their impact on communities of practice, nationally and internationally.
  4. Assess policy, service and practice responses to selected issues in local and global social work practice and how social workers respond and practice at both levels.
  5. Work with difference with a range of methods and interventions.
  6. Explore emerging trends and issues in social work.

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 Texts

  • Alston, M., & McKinnon, J. (Eds.) (2005). Social work fields of practice (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • O’Hara, A., & Pocket, R. (2011). Skills for human service practice: Working with individuals, groups and communities (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Recommended Readings

  • Alston, M. (2009). Innovative human service practice: Australia’s changing landscape. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bland, R. (2009). Social work practice in mental health: An introduction. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Chenoweth, L., & McAuliffe, D. (2014). The road to social work and human service practice (4th ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.
  • Corcoran, J., & Walsh, J. (2011). Mental health in social work: A casebook on diagnosis and strength-based practice assessments. Boston, MA: Pearsons.
  • 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.
  • Fejo-King, C. (2013). Let’s talk kinship: Innovating Australian social work education, theory, research and practice through Aboriginal knowledge. Torrens, Australia: Christine Fejo-King Consulting.
  • Gardner, F. (2006). Working in human services organisations: Creating connections for practice. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Hong Chui, W., & Wilson, J. (Eds.) (2006). Social work and human services best practice. Annandale, Australia: The Federation Press.
  • Jamrozik, A. (2009). Social policy in the post-welfare state: Australian society in a changing world. Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.
  • Kennedy, R., Richards, J., & Leiman, T. (2013). Integrating human service law, ethics and practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Martin, J. (2012). Mental health and social work. Port Adelaide, Australia: Ginnenderra Press.
  • McClelland, A., & Smyth, P. (2009). Social policy in Australia: Understanding for action. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
  • Muller, L. (2014). A theory of Indigenous Australian health and human service work. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • O'Connor, I., Wilson, J., Setterlund, D., & Hughes, M. (2008). Social work and human service practice (5 ed.). Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.
  • Ozanne, E., & Rose, D. (2013). The organisational context of human service practice. South Yarra, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Reisch, M. (2014). Social policy and social justice. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • Webber, M. (2011). Evidence-based policy and practice in mental health social work. Exeter, England: Learning Matters.


  • 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.