Course Title: Cultural Difference and Human Service Practice

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Cultural Difference and Human Service Practice

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2011

Course Coordinator: Dr Susie Costello

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3234

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

There are no pre-requisites required for this course.

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare you for culturally sensitive work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities, particularly indigenous and refugee communities.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The course fosters development of the following program graduate capabilities:

1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and practice skills to work with and for vulnerable families.
2. Apply their knowledge and practice skills in a manner that confronts structural disadvantage arising from cultural and religious difference, patriarchy, racism, disability, age and discrimination of the basis of sexual preference.
3. Promote reflexive, ethical, respectful, accountable and transparent family support practice processes
4. Engage in life-long learning and on-going professional development.

On completion of this course, and through self reflection, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate awareness of the discourses and barriers inherent within your own cultural location.
  • Articulate and enact strategies to overcome barriers to your cultural responsiveness.
  • Evaluate and apply the range of external resources including cultural consultants and interpreters.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the specific nature of indigenous culture, identity, family, spirituality, lore and law, and demonstrate a capacity to apply that knowledge to your practice.
  • Use collaborative approaches to generate innovative and responsible communication and work practices to empower indigenous Australians in their local communities

Overview of Learning Activities

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

Lecture notes, case examples and other resources are on the RMIT Online Learning website and you are expected to have prepared for class by reading in advance. Attendance at classes is expected because of the emphasis placed on small group and experiential learning. If you are unable to attend a particular session you should notify the course coordinator.

Overview of Learning Resources

Blackstock, C. (2009) The Occasional Evil of Angels…Learning from the Experiences of Aboriginals Peoples and Social Work First Peoples Child and Family Review Canada Vol 4(1) 28-37.
Briskman, L. (2003) Working with Aboriginal Communities in Allan, J., Pease, B and Briskman, L. Critical Social Work Theory and Practice Allen and Unwin Frenchs Fores
Byrnes J. (2000) A comparison of aboriginal and non- aboriginal values Dissent Spring p6-11.
Chan, C. Chan, T & Ng, S. (2006) The Strength-Focused and Meaning Oriented Approach to Resilience and Transformation (SMART): A Body-Mind Spirit Approach to Trauma Management, The Hawthorn Press.
Higgins, J.R and Butler, N. (2007). Indigenous responses to child protection issues. ‘Promising Practices in Out-of-Home Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Carers, Children and Young People’ (Booklet 4). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Hoang, L. (2008) Spicy cup-of tea counselling’: the therapist in the client’s home environment Psychotherapy in Australia Vol 14 No 1:66-71.
Khisty, K. (2001) Transcultural Differentiation: A Model for Therapy with Ethno-culturally Diverse Families ANZJFT 22(1)17-24.
Lynn, R. (1998) A Yarn, A Joke, A Cup of Tea - Tuning In and Sussing Out Ch 4 in ‘Murri Way!’- Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Reconstruct Social Welfare Practice’ Townsville, Qld: Centre for Social and Welfare Research, James Cook University of North Queensland.
Miller, K. and Rasco, L. The Mental Health of Refugees Laurence Erlbaum Associates London.
Miller, K., Kushner, H and Kulkarni, M. (2006) Beyond Psychiatric Epidemiology: Bridging Research and Practice with War Affected Populations American Journal of Orthopsychiatry Vol 76 (4) and language Dulwich Centre Publications Adelaide South Australia.
Smallwood, M. (1996) ’This Violence is Not Our Way: An Aboriginal. Perspective on Domestic Violence’ in Thorpe & Irwin (eds.) Women and Violence: Working for Change, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney.
Wingard B. Lester J. (2001) Telling Our Stories in Ways that Make us Stronger: Introducing ‘sugar’ (diabetes). Dulwich Centre Publications Adelaide South Australia
Wingard B. Lester J. (2001) Finding our own ways to grieve, to remember and to heal in Telling Our Stories in Ways that Make us Stronger Dulwich Centre Publications Adelaide.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be applied in nature and based on the learning objectives and capabilities listed above. The assessment in this course will be both formative and summative, and will total approximately 5000 words. Assessment tasks may include items such as a portfolio, report or presentation. There are two assessment tasks:
Assessment 1. Cultural Self Assessment    40%
Assessment 2: Case cultural Analysis          60%