Course Title: Utilise specialist communication skills to build strong relationships

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2012

Course Code: HWSS5338C

Course Title: Utilise specialist communication skills to build strong relationships

School: 365T Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6054 - Advanced Diploma of Disability Work

Course Contact : Mary Collins

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 99254598

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Anthony Graham, Program Manager, 99254411,  

Nominal Hours: 50

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Students are assumed to be experienced disability staff working in the disability or community services fields.

Course Description

This unit relates to the application of specialist workplace communication techniques to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues and clients, based on respect and trust.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

CHCCOM3C Utilise specialist communication skills to build strong relationships


1.  Identify appropriate communication strategies to meet the needs of clients and colleagues and build strong relationships

2. Conduct effective communication with clients and staff

3. Contribute to the development of effective communication strategies

4.  Represent the organisation to a range of groups

5.  Apply specific communication techniques to assist in resolving conflict

6.  Implement mechanisms that facilitate group discussions  

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Specific communication needs of clients and colleagues are identified including:
• utilising techniques and aids
• translation and language interpreters
• cultural interpreters
• referral to specialists
1.2 Identify areas of mistrust or conflict that may require conflict resolution.

1.3 Identify the need to include additional people including trusted friends, case workers, family members or adults


2.1 Selection from a range of appropriate communication strategies is made and employed to:

• Establish rapport
• Exchange information
• Facilitate resolution of issues
• Defuse potentially difficult situations
2.2 Basic counselling skills are applied where appropriate to provide a brief
2.3 Interviews are conducted according to established procedures
2.4 Feedback and advice is given in a way which reflects current identified good

2.5 Due regard to individual differences, needs and rights is shown in communicating with clients and colleagues.

2.6 Referrals to other staff or specialist services are made as appropriate to
ensure duty of care responsibilities are met in situations where breakdowns in
communication occur.

2.7 Enquiries are responded to in a manner that promotes achievement of mutual

2.8 Differences is views are respected and considered in a way that values and
encourages the contributions of others

3.1 Strategies are implemented to check on the effectiveness of communication with clients and colleagues.

3.2 Established channels of communication are reviewed regularly to ensure clients and co-workers are informed of relevant information in a timely way.

3.3 Coaching in effective communication is provided to colleagues and clients as required.

3.4 Relevant work related networks and relationships are maintained as required to ensure clients needs and organisational objectives.

4.1 When participating in internal and external forums, presentations are relevant , appropriately researched and presented in a manner to promote the organisation, and adjusted to meet audience needs
4.2 Written communication is consistent with organisational standards

5.1 Strategies are put in place to develop a trusting relationship that will enable facilitation of conflict resolution

5.2 Specific mediation processes are applied that enable individual issues to be identified and stories to be heard, and exploration and validation of the history of the conflict.

5.3 Agreement is sought on processes to be followed to resolve conflict within scope of own abilities, skills and work role.

5.4 Referral to conflict resolution and mediation is made as appropriate.
5.5 Verbal communication skills are utilised to assist in resolving any conflict.

6.1 Opportunities are provided to fully explore all relevant issues
6.2 Strategies which encourage all group members to participate equally are used routinely including seeking and acknowledging contributions from all members.

6.3 Objectives and agendas for meetings and discussions are routinely set and followed.

6.4 Relevant information is provided to groups as appropriate to facilitate outcomes.

6.5 Evaluation of groups communication strategies is undertaken to promote ongoing participation of all parties.

6.6 Strategies are implemented to ensure the specific communication needs of individuals within the group are identified and addressed.

Learning Outcomes

Please refer to elements.

Details of Learning Activities

You will attend a program of workshops that will focus on key themes and issues and which will include guest presenters from the disability area and other related industry areas.  The student cohort is comprised of experienced industry staff so the workshops are based on extending your knowledge and skills focusing on current work practices, industry initiatives and issues, legislative and policy changes and developments.  Some in-class assessment tasks are included in the workshops.

Teaching Schedule

Session number and dateTopics                                                                                                                  




Course intro,
Student Administration, 

Workplace based learning: processes, tools, planning and discussion.

Learning and Assessment (L & A) tasks:
Semester 1 – distribute and discuss in detail.

L & A tasks Semester 2 – overview only



 Discussion – our world, events and changes over time: 1900 – 2012.

Systemic Advocacy – definitions and discussion
• Current industry issues and solutions
• Current initiatives and projects
• Anticipated changes and developments in the disability and community services sectors
• Your roles and participation in systemic advocacy
• Networks in which you participate – who you/should work with

In-class task 1a preparation for session 3, 8/3

Library orientation: 1.00 – 4.00 RMIT Carlton Library, Building 94, level 3, Cardigan St



 Current and futures services for people with disabilities

Discussion: In-class task 2.1a - Statistics & Analysis
2.1a) From student workplaces
• Who is the client group/s?
• Is the client profile changing?
• Are the support needs changing?
• How is our role changing?

Library session – PC lab 2
1.30 – 4.00
In class task 2.1b) Exploring the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data cube statistics – people with disabilities – now and in the future.



 The legal frameworks in Australia and Victoria
Legislative and policy frameworks:
Disability, generic, state, federal levels, charters, statutory guidelines



 Students lead discussions – overview of Systemic Advocacy Projects

In a “team meeting style” each student gives an overview of their System Advocacy Project:
• Topic and focus (L & A task steps 1, 2, 3)
• Planning for steps 4 – 7

Student progress will be noted and feedback and suggestions provided.



 How does change in community and disability services occur & have we really changed?

Community focussed services:
Government strategies:
Victorian State Plan 2002 – 2012:
Federal Government – strategy consultation report
2010 – 2020 National Disability Strategy
National Disability Insurance Scheme

In-class assessment 2.2
Positive change and development:
• In the organisations represented in the student group.
• Challenges of location – metropolitan, regional and rural settings
Addressing the issues – ideas, solutions and strategies



 Coordination of current and future service delivery

Service aspects – assessment
• Individual supports and $s
• Agency level service and $s
• Staff roles, requirements and practices

• Individual services
• Agency level delivery for groups of clients, service agreements
• Staff roles, requirements and practices, training and development

Students’ roles in these processes across range of service types and work roles and responsibilities

 7 & 8

17/5, 31/5

 Disability and diversity – 17/5

Indigenous perspectives and experience
Long term systems advocacy, activism and lobbying

Specific and generic community based services and organisations:
St Vincent’s Public Hospital Aboriginal Liaison & Training program

In-class task 2.3 – CALD, networks and communication

Disability and diversity – disability worldwide, 31/5 

• cultural, social and economic differences,
• issues across the world
• strategies and solutions
• conflict, natural disasters and catastrophic events
• implications for local services – immigration and diverse client groups

Current Victorian context: DHS and agency policy and practices working with people from diverse backgrounds.



 Student presentations –

Systemic Advocacy Project: Advocating for Change
Each student gives an overview of their completed Systemic Advocacy Project:
The student’s project format and presentation will particularly be assessed against CHCORG20B Promote and represent the organisation

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be through a mix of in-class tasks, workplace based projects and a workplace assessment. A workplace assessment appointment will be undertaken once per year with each student to allow students to present and discuss workplace evidence.  

Assessment Tasks

Learning and Assessment Task 1

Title: Professional Communication
Ten questions that are designed to allow you to demonstrate your understanding of, and competence in, communication with individuals and groups including clients, families/carers, colleagues, agency and the community. Identification and support for individual communication needs and your capacity to co-ordinate the communication assessment and support is part of this task. Your responses will give you the opportunity to reflect on the practices in the field and in agencies as well as your practices as an experienced disability professional. We would expect that your responses would reflect current federal and state legislative, policy and practice standards including those related to privacy and confidentiality.

Length of responses: up to 300 words per question.

Due date: 5.00pm, Friday 23rd March 2012.

Learning and Assessment Tasks 2.1, 2.2, 2.3
2. The in-class assessment tasks: these will be discussed and distributed at the scheduled sessions.
They form an integral part of the overall assessment building a picture of students’ knowledge and skill. They are also a vital aspect of the learning environment as students share knowledge and experiences in group work.
These are distributed and undertaken during workshops and relate directly to the material presented. They provide initial evidence of student’s knowledge and skills and, as they are generally group tasks, supplement the learning material through discussion of workplace practices across a range of service agencies. These tasks are submitted at the end of the session. Student responses are assessed and recorded against the semester’s units. The tasks are not returned to students but are retained by the unit teacher as part of the record of assessment and evidence of competence.
2.1 Statistics – analysis, argument and advocacy
2.2 Positive change and development
2.3 Cultural perspectives – culture and disability

NB: These tasks can be undertaken outside class time if a student is absent from a workshop. 

Learning and Assessment Task 3 :  Systems Advocacy Project.

Develop and present an advocacy campaign to address a significant issue in your field of work.

1. Identify and describe a significant issue in your field of work - e.g. Accommodation, individualised services package funding levels, Employment, Access, Mobility.

2. Include discussion of why/how the issue has arisen or developed including a brief timeframe - e.g. the move away from service level funding to individualised packages, an increased focus on independent community access requires the community to be more accessible.

3. Describe how this issue is linked to the current and proposed legislative, standards and policy frameworks of the disability service sector in Victoria and Australia e.g. CSTDA to National Disability Agreement to National Disability Insurance Scheme.

4. Undertake and document research that will demonstrate the significance of the concern - e.g. via waiting lists for accommodation and other services, comparative unemployment rates, rates of access / barriers to access, consultation with concerned and involved parties.

5. Investigate services and programs both within and outside the disability service sector to identify how the issue is currently dealt with or alternative options currently used e.g. local government area (LGA) services such as Home and Community Care (HACC) services or community transport services, Community Aged Care Packages (CAPs), public or social housing schemes

6. Propose solutions that directly or indirectly address this issue – e.g. altering public transport systems or offering alternative means of transport. This campaign should be directed at a designated audience e.g. Government department – Federal, State and/or Local, local community groups e.g. Education, recreation, neighbourhood. The campaign should have the aim of persuading this audience to undertake a specific action – e.g. Fund more housing, provide access, provide support staff.

7. Develop in presentation and written submission formats.
• Students will lead brief in-class discussions of their proposed advocacy campaigns on Thursday 5th April.

• Presentation of your completed (or near completion) campaign Thursday 14th June: this will be a presentation advocating system change to the stated target audience. It may be a combination of verbal presentation with audiovisual support materials - e.g. overheads, powerpoint presentation, video, posters, pamphlets. Each student will have 20 minutes allocated for their presentation.

• Written submission – The written document is the hard copy submission of the Learning and Assessment Task 3. It will be a workplace standard written progress report of the project up to the due date of Friday 1st June by 5.00pm. It can include as appendices working notes, emails, draft documents, records of interviews and discussions and excerpts from source documents or references to those source documents.

Length of written submission: the written report should not exceed 1000 words.

Due dates:
• In-class over view of the project: 5th April
• Written submission – Friday June 1st, 5.00pm
• Final Presentation – 14th June

Assessment Matrix

Other Information

The following five units are delivered as a cluster with a common workshop schedule.  The learning and assessment tasks as described above are designed to address the set of units.  

CHCAD3A – Undertake systems advocacy.
CHCHDIS11C – Coordinate work in the disability sector.
CHCNET3B – Develop new networks.
CHCORG20B – Promote and represent the organisation.
CHCCOM3C – Utilise specialist communication skills to build strong relationships.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview