Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 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.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Department of Social Work


Dr Bernadette Saunders



  • First semester 2016 (Day)
  • First semester 2016 (Off-campus)


This unit introduces students to the history and evolution of the international human rights regime, current debates about human rights locally, nationally and internationally, as well as ethical codes and decision-making processes as they apply to social work practice. The unit provides opportunities for students to explore the foundations of the Australian legal system in a human rights framework and the legal contexts within which social workers practice. The unit addresses concepts of moral philosophy underpinning the AASW Code of Ethics and explores the foundations of ethical decision-making. In line with Monash University's commitment to human rights and social justice, the unit has an overarching human rights approach, within which legal and ethical practice occurs.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Describe how international human rights regimes have evolved.
  2. Identify relevant human rights documents, access and apply them in social work practice situations.
  3. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the Australian Legal System, its international context, and the importance of legal knowledge to competent social work practice, including record keeping and report writing.
  4. Find, read, consider, apply, and critically evaluate legislation, and how it informs and impacts social work practice.
  5. Identify, describe and critically reflect upon legal and ethical issues and dilemmas.
  6. Implement ethical decision making processes in social work practice.


Online multiple choice and other types of questions (600 words) (10%)
Written assignment related to law, the Australian legal system and the student's observation of court or tribunal proceedings (2,400 words) (40%)
An ethical decision-making response to a case study (3,000 words) (50%) (Hurdle)

Workload requirements

Weekly schedule (6 week intensive teaching semester on campus).

Four (4) to six (6) hours per week comprising -

  • Four (4) hours of lectures per week (2 x 2 hour lectures)
  • Three 2-hour question and answer sessions - run fortnightly
  • One 2-hour lecture / workshop jointly run with Translation and Interpreting Studies, Faculty of Arts
  • 18-20 hours of self-directed learning per week in the forms of reading, online activities, and assignment preparation, including attendance at, and critical observation of, courts and tribunals.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Off-campus attendance requirements

Students are required to observe at least one court or tribunal hearing.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: