The Federation Press

Social Work in the Shadow of the Law


This fourth edition of Social Work in the Shadow of the Law is a critical resource for social workers, social work students and for those who work in human services. All of the chapters from the third edition have been updated, with fresh accounts, references, perspectives and case studies authored by over 30 academics and senior practitioners.

The new title, Social Work in the Shadow of the Law signals a little more emphatically that this is a book that is written by and for social workers. The first part of the book offers deeply considered reflections on the relationship between social work and law, including from Phillip Swain, the founding editor of this book. It then builds on this broad, contextual introduction by examining how and when social workers interact with the law and lawyers in a wide range of different practice settings. The final section of the book considers the legal issues that arise in the social worker’s own practice, addressing matters such as confidentially and ethics, courts, tribunals and interpreters, record keeping, administrative law, and evidentiary rules.


Review of previous edition:
The third edition includes chapters from 12 new contributors. New chapters cover issues such as domestic violence, working with interpreters, social work and sexuality, homelessness and housing rights, adoption and post-adoption practice, family law and social work and Indigenous Australians. ... The book refers to case law and legislation and provides case studies throughout each chapter. References to articles, statistics and law reform committee reports and other relevant government reports in particular areas are useful. Both state and territory legislation in each area is canvassed so the guide is useful nationally. - Law Institute Journal of Victoria, December 2009

Table of Contents

List of tables and figures
List of abbreviations
Notes on contributors


Why social work and law?
Phillip Swain
Towards a reconciliation of legal and social work practice
Spencer Zifcak


Adoption: The changing context of adoption
Cas O'Neill, Paul Ban and Susan Gair
Bereavement: Social work following sudden and unexpected death
Dorothy Ford, Anne Giljohann and Vivienne Bateman
Child sexual abuse: Child sexual abuse – The contribution of social work to the legal process
Jan Breckenridge and Kerrie James, updated by Michael Salter
Corrections: Social work and prisons
Eileen Baldry and Mindy Sotiri
Domestic violence: Domestic violence intervention, the law and social work
Raquel Aldunate
Elder abuse: Elder abuse and the law
Elizabeth Ozanne
Family law mediation: Mediation of disputes in the Australian family law system
Dale Bagshaw
Financial issues: Social work practice and debt
Martin Ryan and Carolyn Bond
Homelessness: Housing and homelessness
Nola Kunnen and Sally MacKay, updated by Lou Schetzer
Indigenous Australians: De-colonisation or re-colonisation? Contemporary social work and Indigenous Australians
Linda Briskman and Terri Libesman
Juvenile justice: Social work and juvenile justice
Wing Hong Chui
Lesbian, gay and/or transgender: Lesbian, gay and/or transgender people and the law
Damien W Riggs and Clemence Due
Mental health: Mental health law and its implications for social work practice
Lisa Brophy and Bill Healy
Out-of-home care: Out-of-home care – The ongoing challenge for legal and social systems to enhance children's welfare
Susan Tregeagle and Louise Voigt
People with a disability: The NDIS – A quantum leap towards realising social rights for people with intellectual disability
Christine Bigby
Refugees and asylum seekers: Social work practice with refugees and asylum seekers
Mary Anne Kenny and Lucy Fiske
Social security: Social security and welfare rights – What role for social work?
Terry Carney and Christine Bigby


The ethics of social work practice
Phillip Swain and Andrew Day
Record keeping in social work practice
Phillip Swain and Andrew Day
Social workers, the law and interpreters
Uldis Ozolins
Courts and tribunals
Simon Rice
Simon Rice

Table of cases
Table of statutes

Of interest...