Legal and Ethical Contexts of Practice

Subject 196-757 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Graduate/Postgraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

On campus

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 contact hours (8 x 1 hour lecture, 8 x 2 hour seminar)
Total Time Commitment: 24 contact hours 16 hours of class preparation and reading 24 hours of assessment related tasks = 64 hours total time commitment = 8 hours total time per week
Prerequisites: n/a
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's courses. Students who feel their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


to be advised
Subject Overview:

This subject provides an overview of the Australian and Victorian legal systems, and the values and principles upon which human services law is based. The subject examines current legal and practice issues which practitioners can expect to encounter in such practice areas as child protection, family law, domestic violence, social security, guardianship, and working with refugees. Whilst the principal legal focus of the subject is upon the legal context of practice in Australia, the subject will incorporate reference to international trends in legal responses to the practice areas encompassed, and students will be encouraged to identify international developments which could be applied within the Australian context.

Subject objectives

The subject seeks to raise student awareness of issues, perceptions and implications for the practice of social work and of the legal scenarios in which human service workers frequently practice. It incorporates an examination of one of the key contexts within which social work practice occurs - the legal context - and of the implications of this context for professional practice. During the subject several themes will be addressed:-
  • the interconnectedness of social work practice and law;
  • the notion of rights, their definition and their enforcement;
  • the interrelationship between access to justice and gender, sexual orientation, Aboriginality, and ethnicity; and
  • the ethical and legal responsibilities of social workers in their practice generally, and in relation to the needs presented to them by individual, family or community.
Assessment: Two written essays of 2,500 words and 50% each (one due mid and one end of semester)
Prescribed Texts: Swain, P. (ed.) (2002). In the shadow of the law: The legal context of social work practice. Annandale: Federation Press.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who complete this subject should be able to:

  • critically analyse texts and practices;
  • understand recent developments in social work contexts of practice;
  • link theory to practice;
  • competently communicate in ways relevant to both academic and practice contexts;
  • undertake independent research.
Links to further information:

The disciplines of Nursing and Social Work are now co-managed within the Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences. At the time of publication Social Work subjects are under the administrative management of the School of Nursing.

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