Course Title: Critical Social Work with Families

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Critical Social Work with Families

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning


Sem 2 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2007,
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,
Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Dr Sebastian Cordoba

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 9956

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You should have satisfactorily completed the prerequisite courses HWSS1135 Casework and Advocacy before you commence this course.

Note it is a condition of enrolment at RMIT that you accept responsibility for ensuring that you have completed the prerequisite/s and agree to concurrently enrol in co-requisite courses before enrolling in a course. For your information the RMIT Course Requisites policy can be found at:;ID=twx09y07zi1c

Course Description

Social Work with Families course prepares you to work from a family sensitive framework, acknowledging the impact and influence of family, culture and location on people’s lives. The course assumes and builds on your knowledge of theories from earlier in the social work program including critical, anti-oppressive, feminist, psychological - attachment, trauma and developmental and strength-based theories and extends and applies these to family-sensitive social work practice. There is an emphasis on promoting safety in families, including social work responses to racism, family violence, child abuse and neglect, disability, isolation, homelessness and ageing. You will critique ‘the family’ from local, global and systemic perspectives, and consider transgenerational, transcultural and family life cycle theories for understanding issues in families. You will explore and practise ways of engaging multiple members of a family system, including how to work with family members’ different beliefs, setting goals, problem solving and constructing effective questions. Self-reflection and self-awareness will be constant themes. The subject matter will be considered in the context of current policy, and program and service delivery environments.

Please note that if you take this course for a bachelor honours program, your overall mark in this course will be one of the course marks that will be used to calculate the weighted average mark (WAM) that will determine your award level. (This applies to students who commence enrolment in a bachelor honours program from 1 January 2016 onwards. See the WAM information web page for more information.)

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At the conclusion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse the concept of ‘The Family’, acknowledging global diversity and the impact of social structures such as class, gender, ancestry and culture, sexuality, age and disability;
  • Appraise family connections and situations from systemic, psychological, developmental, trans- generational and critical perspectives;
  • Facilitate family casework to include multiple people, construct respectful questions as interventions in family sessions, case conferences and family advocacy;
  • Manage conflict and aggression in families;
  • Identify program, policy and legislative contexts affecting the delivery of family services.

You will be assessed on your development of 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
  • critically analyse, synthesise and reflect on issues of social disadvantage, marginalisation and oppression in both local and international contexts, and proactively work to promote social justice and human rights
  • demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and practical reasoning when identifying and addressing problems in diverse contexts within the discipline of social work
  • 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, seeking solutions and decision making in your current and continuing professional practice

Overview of Learning Activities

There will be a variety of teaching modes, including didactic presentations, discussions, practical and experiential exercises, videos, excursions, exploration of case material, role-plays and critical reflection and discussion. Visiting speakers will include practitioners and policy makers.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course. Where possible lectures are recorded and available through our online systems, with lecture notes and reading resources. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by the course coordinator, including books, journal articles and web resources. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and your development against the program graduate learning outcomes. Assessment tasks may include, but are not limited to, reflective essays and case studies.
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 Equitable Learning Services 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: