Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitDepartment of Social Work
OfferedCaulfield Second semester 2013 (Day)
Caulfield Second semester 2013 (Off-campus)
Coordinator(s)Dr Grace Brown


This unit will introduce students to an understanding of leadership in the human services in Australia as a requirement for social work practice, one that is not always understood or accepted professionally. The human services sector is expanding in the numbers of its component organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, and in the size and complexity of the component parts. Leadership of social change and social justice in the human services is now at a premium, having been given little attention in the past or currently. Little is known of leadership requirements in this sector particularly as contrasted with other service sectors. Students undertaking this unit will be introduced to theories of leadership of human-service organisations, their programs and policies, and leadership of the new organisational phenomena in this sector, large community service departments, non-governmental consortia, and advocacy organisations. They will also be introduced to other notions of leadership in social work - leadership through research, advocacy and community action.

Subsequently, theories of leadership will be placed against the experiences and views of current social work leaders in this sector, who will be active participants in this unit, so that students gain some understanding of what leadership comprises, what priority actual leaders place on the various aspects of leadership, and what research and theory underpins actual leadership in the policy development, planning and delivery of social services today.


  1. Describe leadership within a professional social work framework through analysis of historical and current leadership examples from the human services sector
  2. Critically analyse theories of leadership for the human services in Australia.
  3. Contrast leadership theories with selected leaders' experiences and identify and analyse the differences.
  4. Articulate where leadership opportunities and responsibilities exist within the human services sector.
  5. Identify the components of leadership in the human-services sector and the distinguishing features of leadership in the human services field.


Students will be required to complete two written assignments:
1.A critical analysis of contemporary leadership theories in the light of presentations in the classroom and conveyed online, from social work leaders during the unit (2000 words, 40%). This assessment is formative and summative and relates to objectives 1,2 and 3.
2.An assessment of their own actual and potential contribution to social work leadership, based on critical reflection on practice experience, current data on leadership in a specific field of practice and analysis of relevant literature (2500 words, 60%). This assessment is summative and relates to objectives 4, 5 and 6.Students must pass both assessment tasks in order to complete the unit successfully.

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

3 hours per week