Family violence affects the lives of many people in the community, and often comes to the attention of social workers in a wide range of health, education and human service settings.  Social workers may have responsibility for providing frontline services to survivors of family violence, and for delivering programs designed to prevent future violence. Responding to situations involving family violence is seen as multi-disciplinary, and there is a need for coordination of efforts and collaboration with other people in relation to place-based initiatives. Social workers consider the structural, economic, cultural and political aspects of family violence and engage in casework, groupwork, research, policy advocacy and community development in order to bring about change.

This unit of study engages students in a critical examination of the myths and stereotypes that help to reinforce the hidden nature of family violence. It focuses on the nature, incidence, and extent of family violence, the gendered nature of family violence, and the impacts of family violence. It encourages students to consider the range of possible responses to family violence, and ways to reduce family violence in the future.

Unit details

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Credit points:
Unit code:


288 credit points (First, Second and Third years) of core ABSW Bachelor of Social Work.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Develop a beginning understanding of the dynamics and impact of family violence on individuals and social groups, particularly women and children;  
  2. Locate and critically analyse social work practice within contemporary political and societal understandings of family violence;  
  3. Discuss the roles of social workers in responding to and preventing family violence.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Review Reading review (1300 words) 30%
Report Assessment of Risk Report (1700 words) 45%
Poster Poster and written reflection 25%

Required reading

Additional readings will be made available through VU Collaborate.

Social work and domestic violence: developing critical and reflective practice
Humphreys, C. & Laing, L., (2013)
SAGE Publications, London.

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