Course Title: Law for Social Work Practice

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Law for Social Work Practice

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020

Course Coordinator: Dr Chris Maylea

Course Coordinator Phone: 03 9925 3951

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course is designed to introduce you to the legal system and to the statutory requirements that frame and inform professional social work practice.. The course is not designed to equip you for legal practice, but rather will alert you to the implications of the law for you and the people you work with. Specifically, the course will introduce you to the:

  • Australia’s legal system, particularly Commonwealth and Victorian Courts and Tribunals and the Koorie Courts
  • Specific areas of law (for example child protection, family violence, refugees, mental health)
  • Legal requirements influencing practice (for example, ‘duty of care’ and ‘natural justice’).
  • Systems for supporting people with legal problems (for example, legal aid, welfare rights centres, community legal centres, the Ombudsperson)
  • The relationship between your legal obligations and the AASW Code of Ethics and Practice Standards

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Identify the relevant court or tribunal and its jurisdiction in the court hierarchy for specific social work scenarios
  • Find legislation and sections relevant to specific social work scenarios on government websites
  • Reflect on the legal, ethical and practical considerations and dilemmas social workers might face when trying to comply with their obligations specified in the law, in the AASW Codes of Ethics (2010) and Practice Standards (2013), and in human rights declarations and charters.
  • Analyse social justice issues in relation to the specific social work scenario, the law and professional obligations.

In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:

  • Apply a body of interdisciplinary knowledge, values and skills in working with and for society’s most vulnerable and marginalised individuals, families, groups and communities
  • Communicate using diverse formats and strategies to stakeholders within and external to your discipline
  • Work with others in a range of roles and contexts, demonstrating cultural, environmental and social awareness while promoting respectful, ethical and reflective practice
  • Apply initiative and ethical judgment in planning, problem solving and decision making in your current and continuing professional practice

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities comprise lectures and tutorial activities. You will participate in discussions and activities in lecturers and tutorials. Learning activities may also include a court or tribunal visit.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, journal articles and web resources. You may be required to purchase a reading pack or text book. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning. The University Library has extensive resources for social work students. The Library has produced a subject guide that includes quality online and print resources for your studies. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Assessment will be undertaken through a range of modalities, totalling an approximate word count of 4000 words and it may include items such as a report on the court or tribunal visit, an in-class exercise, and a report the legal and implications of a social work scenario. Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

  • If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.
  • A student charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
  • Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: