Torrens University offers Health courses that are always relevant to our society and meet industry needs. In line with this commitment, a team of academics, led by Dr Brigid Mahoney, A/ Program Director and Senior Learning Facilitator for Counselling & Community Services courses, based on our Adelaide campus, recently undertook a comprehensive review of our Bachelor of Community Services curriculum. The result is a degree that gives students the skills and knowledge they need to help people in the most practical, effective and appropriate ways in 2023 and beyond.
Community Services graduate learning outcomes
‘This sector is quite broad and comprises of organisations that help people. They can be anything from disability services to homelessness services, domestic violence services, organisations dealing with drug and alcohol issues, mental health services and organisations that work with migrants. It's quite a diverse sector, but what these services and organisations have in common is that they all work with vulnerable populations.’
What motivated Torrens University to review and revise the Community Services curriculum?
‘Society changes over time, the shape of communities change, and along with that comes changes to meet people's needs. So as teachers, if we are going to send graduates out into the community to help people, we need to have a deep understanding of what exactly those needs are today.
‘As well as assessing changes in our society ourselves, we talked with organisations and service providers within the industry to find out what they wanted from our graduates. This process is so important that we meet regularly with the industry to collect their feedback on how our course is running. We do a review and ask industry professionals if there are any aspects of the course that we need to address. This process lets us find the best ways to bring the most important and current skills into the Bachelor degree.’
How will the curriculum changes impact current Bachelor of Community Services students?
‘If the student has only done one year of the old degree, they can come across the new one. For students going into their final year, they will finish with the subjects from the old degree. Some students might transfer to a new degree even if they are halfway through the course. In that case, we'll assess those students on a case-by-case basis, have a look at what subjects they've completed then, and then we're able to apply for credits.’
Contact us if you have any questions about transferring from the old course to the updated one.
The new curriculum focus for our Community Services course
There is a greater awareness in the community and with governments at all levels of the need for community services. This is partly due to our experiences with Covid and the lockdowns. We know more than ever before that people need connections with others. So in the new course, we explore ways that our society can break down the barriers that stop people from connecting with each other.
‘The new degree has a strong focus on social justice,’ says Dr Mahoney. ‘These days, some people, whether they're older or have with drug and alcohol issues, or are struggling with homelessness, need a helping hand. And our students are really well placed to do that. With an understanding of social justice, the students recognise the importance of not judging people and coming to each person as an individual with their own abilities and needs.’
There is also a major focus in the new Community Services degree on empowerment and advocacy. The course is very much about helping students come to terms with the following:
- What the structures in the Community Services sector look like and how they operate?
- Who are the players in the sector?
- Who are the main stakeholders?
- How does the Health system work, for example?
And it looks at disadvantaged groups in society and asks the question: How do we engage with them?
‘I don’t mean just helping them in a charitable way,’ Dr Mahoney explains, ‘that is an old-fashioned model of charity – but in a way that empowers them. Overall, I think there's much more of a focus in the new curriculum on practical applications and how we as lecturers, students and practitioners in the Community Services sector can make a lasting difference. We want to change people's lives every day for the better and help people to change their own lives.’