Jennie Whitley - A Social Work Portfolio

I commenced my Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2005 at the University of Western Sydney, where I completed 3 semesters of study.  When I moved from Sydney, I transferred to Central Queensland University, where I did the remainder of my study, finishing in October 2009.  This page shows the details of the subjects I have studied over the 5 years.  Within the information section, I have copied the subject outline from the university website, in the next column, I have included some personal comments about the subject.  For some of the subjects, I have included a link to one of the assignments I completed for that subject and have tried to include comments the lecturer made about my assignment.  

Subject & Grade

Subject Information  

My Comments

Introduction to Welfare


This unit aims to promote an understanding of the theory and practice in the human services. Students will be provided with a critical analysis of the position of disadvantaged groups within their social, political, economic, historical and cultural context. This unit will provide an overview of social work; youth work; community welfare work and international social development.

 One of my first subjects, it was also an introduction to university life and a return to study after many years.  In this subject, I got to spend 30 hours at the Werrington County Neighbourhood Centre. 

Introduction to Sociology


Click here to see an assessment

This unit introduces students to the central concepts, theories and methodologies of sociology, and demonstrates the ways in which sociological thought contributes to a systematic and critical understanding of contemporary society. The unit draws upon case studies from Australia and other societies.


 This introductory sociology course set me up for the remainder of my studies with regards to sociological concepts.  I had a really inspirational lecturer as well for this subject who was very engaging and encouraged us to think outside the square.

Social Policy


Click here to see an assessment

This unit familiarises commencing students with the institutions and ideas underlying and informing social policy in contemporary Australia, with particular emphasis on Australian social, economic and political culture and institutions. There is a particular emphasis on social change and the ways in which change comes about. It prepares students for further study of specific social and economic institutions and policy.

 Politics and policy was not an area I have ever had any interest in, so I approached this subject with dread.  However, the tutorials encouraged active participation and we were able to engage in many debates.  I can also see the value of understanding policy formation and how policies can impact on my clients lives. 

Skills Development in the Human Services


 Satisfactory (This was a satisfactory / unsatisfactory grade only)

This unit aims to prepare students for work in community welfare, social work, international social development and youth work by equipping them with a wide variety of skills necessary for a range of intervention strategies. Given the breadth of this unit, the knowledge and skills will be covered at a baseline or foundation level. Later units will build on the level of skills covered in this unit. There are two components to the unit - interpersonal skills and computing skills. Both must be completed satisfactorily to pass the unit. Students need to demonstrate that they have satisfactory competencies in spoken and written English and basic computing skills in order to pass this unit and progress in their award.

 This subject focussed on skills development.  Part of the subject involved computer training - which was great for me and something I was able to excel at as I have extensive computer knowledge already.  The other half of the subject involved development of communication skills, including report writing and interviewing.  Every tutorial involved role plays and while I cringed each week at having to do them, I appreciate them now as I am using these skills in my day to day work. 

Introduction to the Psychology of Health


Click here to see an assessment

This unit introduces some of the core concepts, models, theories and methods of inquiry in psychology as they apply to health. Assumptions of human behaviour are examined, showing how these assumptions form the four foundational models of psychology. Those models being psychobiological, learning, cognitive and social. The application of these models to issues of development, personality, motivation and clinical applications allows students to address health topics such as stress, resilience and coping, smoking, eating disorders, disability and health practices.

 This was one of 2 psychology subjects I had to do for the social work degree and I loved both of them.  This one challenged my writing ability as 3 of the assessment pieces were essays of very small word count - this subject helped me to become succinct!  Tutorials required active participation and we were to use discussion from our tutorials towards our essays. 

Community Work and Community Development


This unit introduces theories and skills in community work and community development. Students will develop an understanding of the breadth and scope of community work at a local, state and global level. Students will critically analyse political, economic and cultural issues in community development practice.

 My lecturer for this subject challenged us every week and I love that he did.  According to everyone in my tutorial group he was a very hard marker and anything over a pass was to be cherished.  We got to spend a tutorial on funding applications and this will be a skill no doubt useful in future employment. 

Human Services Intervention Strategies


This is an introductory unit that builds upon 400188 Introduction to Welfare and 400504 Skills Development in the Human Services. It examines underlying theories of social welfare work, community work, youth work and international social development. Students will explore the ideological underpinnings of theories and discourses in the human services and social action. The contribution of other disciplines to knowledge and practice in these vocational areas will also be examined. Students will develop more advanced skills in working with individuals (casework) and working with groups.

 We started to do a lot of group work in this subject and one assessment required us to observe and then write a report on a group of our choosing.  I found it very challenging to observe a group without actually being able to jump in and speak on occassions. 

Lifespan Development and the Human Services


Changes in health, social and environmental issues influence the course of personal development throughout the life span. This unit explores the key stages of development from childhood through to old age and the influence of life events and transitions on health and wellbeing throughout the life span. A particular focus of this unit is the social theory and policy underpinning the planning and delivery of community, health and welfare services to people throughout the life span.

 The second psychology course of the degree.  One of the assessments was a tutorial presentation and the other was an essay.  We had to choose different stages of life for each one, so I completed my tutorial presentation on the elderly and my essay was on adulthood.  Since I have had the opportunity to work with children at my latest placement, I have been able to draw on the childhood stage of development learning from this subject.

Research and the Human Services


This unit introduces students to the concept of social research (broadly defined) and to the problematic relationship between research and policy and equips them with some basic research skills required to work in a welfare context.

 My first research subject and to be honest, not a subject I enjoyed.  However, since doing this subject I have done another that was around research and I absolutely loved it.  University has definitely taught me how to go about finding information!

Working with Individuals and Families


This unit introduces students to the theories and practice related to social work with individuals and families in diverse practice contexts. It builds on knowledge gained through the prerequisite units. Students examine systems theory in relation to family work, and the contributions of feminist therapies and psychological themes. Relevant clinical and social issues such as cross-cultural casework, the impact of the stolen generation on indigenous people's access to social services, and working effectively with grief and loss are examined. 

 Weekly tutorials again involved role plays.  This further developed my communication skills but the case studies we were using also developed my understanding of working with families. 

Law and Welfare of Society A

High Distinction

This course acquaints the student with the legal framework of Australian society, and sets out an analytical framework for the constructive assessment of particular laws. The course also involves a consideration of the manner in which the law may be changed and the way it responds to social, political and economic forces.

  There are 2 law subjects in the social work degree and I am glad there is so.  Both subjects involved us learning about various Acts and where to find them. 

Law and Welfare of Society B



Students in this course examine issues of law and its consequences for society. The course involves consideration of issues such as the Criminal Justice system from policing to corrections, parliamentary law, rights and obligations of parents and children, landlords and tenants. Other areas where the law affects people, for example law and minorities, are also studied.

 As per the previous subject, this law subject saw me delve further into various Acts. 

Australian Society



In this course students should be able to learn to use sociological perspectives and techniques to analyse some of the main characteristics of Australian society. Students should be able to analyse what it means to be an Australian in a globalising world; the historical and ethnic underpinnings of this sense of self; and differences between urban and rural contexts. Topics covered include food consumption, tourism, sport and deviance, with a focus on how these things embody and reinforce major social differentiations such as gender and class.

 My introduction to sociology subject helped me with this course, that had an Australian focus.  This subject was also the first subject that I completed at CQU, and I had to learn real discipline with time management.  Prior to CQU, I had been attending UWS as an internal student, which meant lectures and tutorials for each subject each week.  At CQU I was an external student and at times this was quite isolating. 

Drugs in Society


Click here to see an assessment

This course examines contemporary issues related to drug use in society. An international perspective is adopted to review different approaches to controlling drug use with a particular focus on the Australian National Drug Strategy. The student will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of drug use in society. Interventions focusing on the individual, the family and the community will be examined.

 The lecturer for this subject encouraged a lot of blackboard discussion, which enhanced my learning.  The two assessments encouraged me to look at my own history and views around alcohol and other drugs and I enjoye the research and writing of both. 

Rural Sociology and Social Services



Click here to see an assessment

This course examines social structures and social processes within rural regions and how they impact on the delivery of social services, with particular reference to Australia. The course has two components, the first of which provides the theoretical and conceptual foundations for the second. The first part of the course focuses on the meaning of rurality, rural agricultural restructuring in the context of a global economic system, the sociology of contemporary agriculture, and relationships between ecological, economic and social sustainabiltiy. The second part of the course focuses on the implications of rurality for social service delivery and practice. This section considers the unique features of rural social service delivery in relation to the use of technology for human service delivery, rural practice models (Case Studies), and responses to natural disasters. This course will be of special interest to students planning to live and work in regional Australia, including social work and welfare practitioners, community development officers, nurses and teachers.

 Without a doubt this subject was one of my favourites as I was able to relate to a lot of what I was learning.  Having spent most of my life living in capital cities, moving to Bundaberg was quite a shock to me.  Reading and researching for my assessments, I could relate to some of the issues faced by regional and remote populations. 

Social Work Skills and Methods A & B


Credit for A, Pass for B

This course integrates with Social Work Theory & Practice II which sets the paradigms for research and practice. This course places greater focus on inequalities experienced in regional and rural contexts and their implications for service delivery. Interpersonal skills for interviewing and assessing individuals, families and groups as well as community approaches are presented. The course requires the written production of assessment reports, intervention plans and audio-visual presentations demonstrating the knowledge, values and skills of social work utilising various methods.

 These subjects enhanced some of the skills I had started to develop during my time at UWS.  During residential schools, we participated in a variety of role plays and one of our assessments required us to video tape and critique a particular case study. 

Social Work Theory and Practice IIA & IIB



This course introduces students to social work theories and knowledge on the process of change and its impact for individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities. The course explores the researcher/ practitioner paradigm and an understanding of the assessment process through time in all of the above settings. The course integrates a focus on the impact of rurality, social policy, social research and its application. Learning in this course is linked directly with the Australian Association of Social Worker's Code of Ethics and its translation into action.

 This subject introduced me to various theories.  Early on, the strengths perspective and systems theory caught my interest and are theories that I have read further on over the past few years.  As I spend time in my placements I have been exposed to other theories and they are all becoming part of my personal practice framework.

Community Analysis



Click here to see some assessments related to this subject

The aim of this course is to allow students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the theories and concepts behind different approaches to community. These concepts and ideas will be used to inform a consideration of the role of qualitative methodologies in working with and researching communities, including the place of action research and participatory research. Processes that will be examined include community profiling and needs assessment, and specific methods that will be considered include focus groups and interviews. The course includes a discussion of how identified research outcomes may lead to the development of community interventions, such as project or resource development. The course concludes with a discussion of some of the key trends, issues and concerns in contemporary community discourse. This course will assist those that intend to work in community settings by fostering an understanding of the interplay between theoretical approaches, conceptual perspectives, and the methodological considerations needed to work appropriately and effectively with diverse communities

 This was another research subject, which, unlike the first one I undertook, I thoroughly enjoyed.  We were able to identify our own research topic and the assessments related to this topic and were a literature review and methodology. 

Ethical Social Work



Click here to see an assessment

This course presents ethical theories and principles and their relationship to social work practice. The Australian Association of Social Workers' Code of Ethics is examined thoroughly as it is applied to a case study. Ethical decision making for professional practice and its relationship with moral responsibility is explored. The role of personal and professional value systems and their place in various practice settings, and in the legal and organisational context of social work is analysed. An analysis of modernist and post- modernist approaches to ethical dilemmas is also presented prompting reflection on the legislative nature of modernist ethics as opposed to skilful moral questioning in context, which is the preferred position of post-modern ethics.

 Whilst I have my own values and morals, this subject introduced me to the AASW Code of Ethics and is a document that I ensure I always have on hand, have used and will continue to use in my social work practice. 

Social Work Theory and Practice IIIA & IIIB


Credit for IIIA, Distinction for IIIB

Click here to see an assessment

The course places an emphasis upon how theories of change are translated into action. The course focuses upon the design and implementation of change strategies in numerous social contexts where social work is found with a particular emphasis upon the integration of knowledge from the disciplines of management, social policy and health. The course will require students to demonstrate a knowledge and skill base that will enable them to move through the process of assessment, intervention and evaluation, taking responsibility for this process. Participants in this course will learn to apply and justify appropriate theoretical underpinnings, professional decisions for change interventions.

 This theory and practice subject revolved around organisations and was appropriate to our fieldwork placements.  I was encouraged to think about organisational change and structure. 

Field Education and Fieldwork I



Pass (This was a pass/fail grade only)

Click here to see my evaluation

This is the first of two courses related to the practice of social work in situ. The fieldwork component requires the student to complete seventy days of on-site/agency based interactions and learning tasks supervised by an approved Social Worker. The student, having mastered the interpersonal skills and the further family and group skills, will, in this placement, need to identify learning goals which continue to synthesise management, social policy and health in order to develop, articulate, and engage in complex intervention strategies. Practice based and personal reflection will be emphasised to encourage students to undertake responsibility for their actions and emerging professional identity. The course integrates with Social Work Theory & Practice III.

 This was my 3rd year fieldwork subject.  I did my placement at CRS Australia in Bundaberg.  My learning goals were developed around this placement and I was able to undertake my own case load whilst there.  

Human Resources in Organisations



This course introduces students to the study of Human Resources Management and its importance in the management of people within organisations. Throughout the course, the importance of managing human resources effectively in both increasingly competitive environments and in the international context will be stressed. Areas of study to be covered include: the environment for HRM; Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action; Job Analysis; Human Resources Planning; Recruitment, Selection and Induction; Performance Appraisal; Human Resources Development; Compensation Management; Occupational Health and Safety; Termination of the Employment Relationship; Human Resources Research and International HRM. Contemporary issues in HRM will be briefly discussed during the term, as will other environmental forces likely to impact the field of HRM in the foreseeable future.

 Despite this being a compulsory subject, I did at times, feel little relevance to social work in this subject.  However, the learnings around recruitment, OH&S and EEO were familiar to me from my previous work history.  I can also see relevance if undertaking a position that includes recruitment or supervision of other staff such as team leader roles. 

Policy, Power and Politics




This course examines sociological theories that underpin the study of politics and the policy process. In particular, the course explores the nature of political socialisation, theories of power, and the dynamics of policy-making in Australia, as well as some of the analytical frameworks which have been developed in order to explain the political actors involved in the policy process and the ways in which policy decisions are made. The course considers Australia's three- tiered Federal system, the increasing importance of international organisations, and the difficulties of developing public policy within such a complex set of structures.

 Another subject around politics, I found this time around I was able to be more enthusiastic in my involvement having received some grounding from my first policy subject. 

Social Work Theory and Practice IVA & IVB



Marks not yet released


This final social work core course adds greater depth to all prior learning within the program. In this course students will articulate their own personal framework for social work practice with a particular emphasis upon the ability to value, think and act critically as professionals. This course draws together many of the field placement experiences, providing students with a measure of the competencies and gaps in these learnings. Participants will be encouraged to assess their own learning needs to identify further resources or skills required in preparation for life long learning in the field. Finally, learning in this course will provide graduates with a complex analysis of the purpose and place of social work as a critical profession in the pursuit of social justice in Australian society and internationally.

 The final theory and practice subjects were focussed on community work and we were required to submit a group assessment.  I have a lot of time working in groups during my university studies, and each group has had its own challenges and rewards.  The biggest challenge of group work at CQU is distance as it is common to find yourself in a group with students from all around Australia, making face to face work on the assessment impossible.  However, as a member of this final group, I am very proud of our work based on a community project for East Timor, and even prouder of our High Distinction mark.  The final assessment for this subject is this portfolio and is, without a doubt, the biggest achievement for me to date.  Reflecting on my study from 2005 to today, I am proud as punch to see my development and just as pleased to be able to present this web site as a testament to my learning and development.

Practice Frameworks: Child and Family



Click here to see assessments for this subject

This course exposes course participants to some of the issues professionals face when working with families and children in the welfare system. On completion of the course participants will be able to define the terms "child" and "family" in relation to welfare practice, be familiar with theories and frameworks of practice relevant to working with families and children, and be able to identify, explore and critically assess therapeutic and non-therapeutic interventions with children and families. Course participants will also be expected to become familiar with services available to children and their families in their local community and develop a personal framework of practice that can be applied in the field.

 There were two electives offered by CQU, but I wasn't required to do either of them as I had received credit from studies completed at UWS.  However, I decided to do both anyway.  This was one of them and the assessments were based around a case study and required us to use policy and procedure as though we were employed as Child Safety Officers at the Queensland Department of Child Safety.  Originally I took this elective as I did not think it was an area I would ever want to work, but thought knowledge of the area would be beneficial.  Having completed the subject, Child Protection is now a possibility for me. 

Social Work and Mental Health



Click here to see an assessment

With their commitment to each client's self-determination and individual dignity social workers complement the perspectives of related professionals by promoting the interests of clients and families during interactions with the mental health system. This course provides both a framework for clinical social work practice and a description of diverse intervention for those with major mental health issues.

 This is the other elective offered by CQU and again I took it as I thought whilst I did not want to work in Mental Health, an understanding of this area could only benefit my practice.  Again, we were presented with a case study and assessments were based on this.  Working in this area is now also a possibility for me and is something I may have avoided if I had not completed this subject. 

Field Education and Fieldwork II



Marks not yet released – this is a pass/fail grade only)

Linking as it does with Social Work Theory and Practice IV, this course of practice is the final course in the program. Participants commencing this course of field education will be required to describe and justify their own practice frameworks based on the unification of personal experiences, philosophies of social work, theories, skills and values. This process will involve the identification of both immediate learning goals to meet the placement situation, and create a foundation for the on-going pursuit of learning and knowledge. In this context, critical thinking and research will form key aspects of this placement. The emphasis on working in community is critically examined. Awareness of the profession and the professional in both the present and the future will ensure that at the completion of this course students will meet the AASW requirements for beginning practitioners.

 For my final 4th year placement, I was placed at Centacare, Bundaberg and have been exposed to a variety of learning opportunities.  Within the counselling section I have been involved in various groups and have shadowed the outreach family support worker who spends time in Childers and Gin Gin.  The other area of Centacare Bundaberg is the aged care section and I have been involved in Ongoing Needs Identication assessments, HACC services and various groups and community education sessions.  I am really pleased to have experienced such a diverse placement as it has allowed me to develop skills in a variety of areas.  It also offered me the opportunity of working with children, which has strongly encouraged me to learn more about play, narrative and creative therapies.  It has also identified for me that working with children is an area in which I may look for future work, which, before my placement was not something I had considered. 

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