SWM5111 - Leadership in social work and human services - 2019

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

Chief examiner(s)

Melissa Petrakis


Debbie Ling

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (Off-campus)
  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)




Must be enrolled in a Postgraduate Degree




Please note: The teaching dates for this unit vary from the standard teaching datesstandard teaching dates (http://www.monash.edu/enrolments/dates/census) for this teaching period.

Unit discontinuation and penalty dates for these units are different to other units taught in the same teaching period.

Please refer to the information available on the Faculty non standard teaching dates pageFaculty non standard teaching dates page (https://www.monash.edu/medicine/study/student-services/non-standard-dates) to avoid academic and financial penaltiesacademic and financial penalties (https://www.monash.edu/enrolments/change/add-or-discontinue-units).


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 humanservice 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.


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

  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 humanservices sector and the distinguishing features of leadership in the human services field.


  • 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 (2,000 words) (40%)
  • 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 (2,500 words) (60%)

Students must pass both assessment tasks in order to complete the unit successfully.

Workload requirements

This unit is taught over an 8 week period beginning in Week 8 of semester, with an expected 156 hours of study.

See also Unit timetable information

Off-campus attendance requirements

3 hours per week.

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

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