Inherent requirements for the Master of Social Work

The statements below specify the course requirements of the Master of Social Work for student admission and progression. The statements are clustered under eight domains consisting of ethical behaviour, behavioural stability, legal, communication, cognition, relational skills, reflective skills and sustainable performance. Many of the activities associated with the professional practice of a social worker are time sensitive, where the capacity to perform certain activities within specified time limits is required to reduce or avoid risks to client safety and wellbeing. The safety and wellbeing of you and others is always of paramount importance. The inherent requirements below should be read in conjunction with other course information, the Australian Association of Social Workers Education and Accreditation Standards and the Australian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics.

What is it like to do this course?

It may be helpful for you to understand what it is like to complete the Master of Social Work. Further information about the course is available in the course guide and we recommend you familiarise yourself with the information there. You may undertake electives from other disciplines, including from the disciplines of counselling and psychological sciences, as part of this course. Electives from other disciplines may have different inherent requirements, and so you may find it helpful to review those when selecting appropriate electives.

What about when I finish my course?

Successfully completing the Master of Social Work provides you with an entry-level qualification in social work that is the basis for membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers and enables you to apply for social work positions in a range of employment pathways. If you are undertaking this course in order to complete subsequent higher education study it is important to ensure that you are also familiar with the inherent requirements of those courses. As you commence your studies you may find it helpful to familiarise yourself with any requirements to work in such roles following graduation.

Inherent requirement domains

There are eight domains of inherent requirements in the Master of Social Work. Some domains have a number of sub-domains.

  • Ethical behaviour 
  • Behavioural stability 
  • Legal compliance 
  • Communication 
  • Cognition 
  • Relational skills 
  • Reflective skills
  • Sustainable performance

 Ethical behaviour

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Students undertaking social work studies are governed by practice standards and codes of ethics where students are both accountable and responsible for ensuring professional behaviour in all contexts.
  2. Student demonstrates knowledge of, and engages in ethical behaviour in practice.
  3. Why is ethical behaviour an inherent requirement?
    Compliance with the codes, guidelines and policies (opens in new window) facilitates safe, competent interactions and relationships for students and/or the people with whom they engage. This supports the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of all.
    Knowledge of, and compliance with the AASW Codes of Ethics (opens in new window) is a requirement of course accreditation and graduate standards as mandated in the AASW Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards June 2012 [PDF, 703 KB](opens in new window) .
    Knowledge of, and compliance with, relevant research codes of ethics in the conduct of research protects the well-being of research participants and researchers.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the ethical behaviour requirement must ensure the codes and standards are not compromised or result in unethical behaviour.
  5. Examples of ways in which ethical behaviour applies to this course
    Demonstrating appropriate behaviour with confidential information in classroom and social work practice settings.
    Demonstrate ability to reflect on ethical dilemmas and issues and take responsibility for ensuring awareness of ethical behaviour.
    Appropriately acknowledging sources in the preparation of written assignments.
    Abiding by relevant research ethics guidelines, such as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, in the conduct of research.
 Behavioural stability

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Behavioural stability is required to function and adapt effectively and sensitively in a demanding role.
  2. Student demonstrates behavioural stability to work constructively in a diverse and changing academic and social work practice environments.
  3. Why is behavioural stability an inherent requirement?
    Behavioural stability is required to work individually and in teams in changing and unpredictable environments. Social work students will be exposed to highly complex and potentially distressing situations, and will be required to have the behavioural stability to manage these.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the behavioural stability requirement must support stable, effective and professional behaviour in both academic and social work practice settings.
  5. Examples of ways in which behavioural stability applies to this course
    Demonstrating the capacity to manage emotions and behaviour appropriately, including when feeling under stress.
    Being receptive and responding appropriately to constructive and / or critical feedback.
    Managing own emotional state in order to be able to develop and maintain an appropriate relationship with a diverse range of clients, professional colleagues and supervisors, academic staff, and peers.
 Legal compliance

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Social work is mandated by legislation and professional regulations to enable the delivery of safe and appropriate professional practice.
  2. Student demonstrates knowledge and compliance with Australian Law, professional regulations and scope of practice.
  3. Why is legal compliance an inherent requirement?
    Knowledge, understanding, and compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements are necessary in order to reduce the risk of harm to self and others.
    Compliance with these professional regulations and the Australian Law in social work practice settings ensures that students are both responsible and accountable for their practice.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the legal compliance requirement must be consistent with legislative and regulatory requirements.
  5. Examples of ways in which legal compliance applies to this course
    Respecting and complying with national and state legislation, including human rights and discrimination legislation, in all aspects of the course.
    Demonstrating capacity to research, understand and apply regulatory requirements specific to safe practice in the class setting and in social work practice.
 Communication

This course requires effective, verbal, non-verbal and written communication.

Verbal

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Effective and efficient verbal communication, in English, is an essential requirement to provide safe delivery of support.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences.
    The ability to understand and respond to verbal communication accurately, appropriately and in a timely manner.
    The ability to provide clear instructions in the context of the situation.
    Timely, clear feedback and reporting.
  3. Why is verbal communication an inherent requirement?
    The practice of social work depends on effective verbal communication with clients, as well as members of the community and professional team.
    Speed and accuracy of communication may be critical for individual safety or treatment.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the verbal communication requirement must address relevant effectiveness, timeliness, clarity and accuracy issues.
  5. Examples of ways in which verbal communication applies to this course
    Participating and engaging in academic and clinical discussions.
    Demonstrating effective communication with a diverse range of clients, peers, other colleagues, and supervisors.

Non-verbal

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Effective non-verbal communication is fundamental to social work and needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic, honest and non-judgemental.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The capacity to recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to behavioural cues.
    Consistent and appropriate awareness of own behaviours.
    Sensitivity to individual and / or cultural differences.
  3. Why is non-verbal communication an inherent requirement?
    The ability to observe and understand non-verbal cues assists with building rapport with people and gaining their trust and respect in academic and professional relationships.
    Displaying consistent and appropriate facial expressions, eye contact, being mindful of space, time boundaries and body movements and gestures promotes trust in academic and professional relationships.
    The ability to observe and understand non-verbal cues is essential for effective observation of client reactions to facilitate assessment and to provide professional support.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the non-verbal communication requirement must enable the recognition, assessment, initiation of or appropriate response to effective non-verbal communication in a timely and appropriate manner. 
  5. Examples of ways in which non-verbal communication applies to this course
    Recognising and responding appropriately to non-verbal cues in classroom situations.

Written

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Effective written communication, in English, is a fundamental social work student responsibility with professional and legal ramifications.
  2. Student demonstrates capacity to construct coherent written communication appropriate to the circumstances.
  3. Why is written communication an inherent requirement?
    Construction of text based assessment tasks to reflect the required academic standards are necessary to convey knowledge and understanding of relevant subject matter for professional practice standards.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the written communication requirement must allow the students to meet necessary standards of clarity, accuracy and accessibility to ensure effective recording and transmission of information in both academic and social work practice settings. 
  5. Examples of ways in which written communication applies to this course
    Constructing an written assignment to academic standards including appropriate referencing of sources.

 

 Cognition

This course requires knowledge of theory and the skills of cognition and literacy.

Knowledge and cognitive skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Consistent and effective knowledge and effective cognitive skills must be demonstrated to provide professional and competent social work practice.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The capacity to locate appropriate and relevant information.
    The ability to process information relevant to practice.
    The ability to integrate and implement knowledge in practice.
  3. Why are knowledge and cognitive skills inherent requirements?
    Safe and effective social work practice is based on knowledge that must be sourced, understood and applied appropriately.
    A demonstrated defined range of knowledge and cognitive skills is a requirement for course accreditation and professional registration by the AASW.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the knowledge and cognitive skills requirement must ensure that a clear demonstration of knowledge and cognitive skills is not compromised or impeded. 
  5. Examples of ways in which knowledge and cognitive skills apply to this course
    Ability to conceptualise and use appropriate knowledge in response to academic assessment items.

Literacy (language)

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Competent literacy skills are essential to permit safe and effective professional support.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to accurately acquire information and convey appropriate, effective messages.
    The ability to read and comprehend a range of literature and information.
    The capacity to understand and implement academic and practice conventions to construct written text in an appropriate manner for the intended audience.
  3. Why is literacy (language) an inherent requirement?
    The ability to acquire information and to accurately convey messages is fundamental to ensure safe and effective assessment, treatment and professional support.
    The ability to read, decode, interpret and comprehend multiple sources of information is fundamental for safe and effective professional support in social work practice.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the literacy (language) requirement must demonstrate a capacity to effectively acquire, comprehend, apply and communicate accurate information. 
  5. Examples of ways in which literacy (language) applies to this course
    Conveying a spoken message accurately and effectively in a social work practice setting.
    Paraphrasing, summarising and referencing in accordance with appropriate academic and/or professional practice conventions, and without plagiarism.
    Producing accurate, concise and clear case notes which meet legal and professional practice requirements.
 Relational skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Social work practice requires the ability to make and maintain strong relationships with a range of individuals, groups, communities, organisations and other stakeholders, including people who are marginalised by wider society.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to establish and maintain rapport with clients, academic staff, supervisors and peers.
    The ability to engage in effective and empathic counselling skills.
    Ability to engage and relate appropriately in individual and group clinical supervision and experiential learning groups.
  3. Why are relational skills inherent requirements?
    Highly developed relational skills are a cornerstone of effective relationships that permit effective assessment and intervention in social work practice.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the relational skills requirement must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate an acceptable level of effective relational skills.
  5. Examples of ways in which relational skills apply to this course|
    Relating effectively, openly and sensitively to academic staff, supervisors and peers to facilitate an effective learning environment and manage one’s own academic progress.
 Reflective skills

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Social work practice requires self-awareness and a capacity for reflectivity in order to consider the effect of one's own issues, actions, values and behaviours on practice.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    The ability to accurately reflect on their professional performance.
    The ability to accept feedback on their professional practice and respond constructively.
  3. Why are reflective skills inherent requirements?
    Participation in supervision is a key teaching strategy in social work education which requires a well-developed understanding of oneself in order to appropriately engage and progress in this activity.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the reflective skills requirement must not compromise the student's ability to demonstrate an acceptable minimum level of capacity in this area. 
  5. Examples of ways in which reflective skills apply to this course
    Identifying when one's practice may be negatively affected by personal experience and / or reactions.
    Identifying and managing the impact of personal issues, including health conditions, to facilitate progress through the course.
 Sustainable performance

Inherent requirement statements

  1. Social work training and practice requires both physical and mental stamina.
  2. Student demonstrates:
    Consistent and sustained level of physical energy to complete a specific task in a timely manner and over time.
    The capacity to maintain consistency and quality of performance throughout the designated period of time.
  3. Why is sustainable performance an inherent requirement?
    Sufficient physical and mental resilience is an essential requirement needed to engage in coursework units and complete assignments in the required time periods.
  4. Adjustments offered by ACAP to assist students to meet the sustainable performance requirement must ensure that performance is consistent and sustained over a given period. 
  5. Examples of ways in which sustainable performance applies to this course
    Attending and actively participating in tutorial and lectures as scheduled and for the required duration.