SWK4450 - Social policy and social justice - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - 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

Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Philip Mendes


Associate Professor Philip Mendes

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2018 (Off-campus)
  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


Students will be introduced to the specific role of social work in social policy analysis, practice and advocacy. Areas covered will include key theories in social policy, understanding the link between social policy and the goals and values of social work, ideological critiques of the welfare state and their implications for particular policy areas, the role of lobby groups in social policy debates, and the link between local and global welfare trends.


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

  1. Appraise the meaning and nature of social policy, from different theoretical and practical points of view;
  2. Explain the key trends and philosophies underlying the positions of major Australian political parties;
  3. Analyse the impact of social structure and social policy on welfare service users;
  4. Explain the role of social policy implementations upon their everyday social work practice in keeping with the expectations of the Australian Association of Social Workers Practice Standards for Social Workers
  5. Apply marxist, feminist, neoliberal and other ideological critiques of the welfare state, and their implications for particular policy areas;
  6. Critique the roles, strategies, and effectiveness of a range of NGO and consumer advocacy/lobby groups in social policy debates;


  • Critical analysis of current newspaper or journal opinion piece (1,500 words) (40%) (hurdle)
  • Critical analysis of an area of current Australian social policy (3,500 words) (60%) (hurdle)

Workload requirements

2 hours per week.

See also Unit timetable information

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

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