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Analysis and Comment (25)

While social services minister Kevin Andrews focuses on welfare spending data, there is precious little evidence for the efficacy of his policy approach. While social services minister Kevin Andrews focuses on welfare spending data, there is precious little evidence for the efficacy of his policy approach. AAP/Alan Porritt

When job seekers outnumber jobs 5 to 1, punitive policy is harmful

The prime object of welfare reform should be to increase the well-being of people rather to reduce public expenditure. Good policy should be able to achieve both goals over the longer term. Too many current…
US president Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law in 1965, one of a suite of policies aimed at ending poverty in America. US president Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law in 1965, one of a suite of policies aimed at ending poverty in America. LBJ Library

How crusade to end ‘age of entitlement’ replaced ‘war on poverty’

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of president Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in the United States. Whatever people might think of Johnson’s actions in southeast Asia, it’s worth pausing to remember his…
Kevin Andrews and the government’s vision for welfare reform depends entirely on whether labour market opportunities will open up to those for whom it has previously been closed. Kevin Andrews and the government’s vision for welfare reform depends entirely on whether labour market opportunities will open up to those for whom it has previously been closed. AAP/Gary Schafer

Welfare review fails to understand Australia’s labour market

The interim report of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System, led by former Mission Australia CEO Patrick McClure, is a vexed piece of work. Much in it is commendable and even far-sighted, but there…
While Australia takes centre stage as this year’s G20 host, some of Joe Hockey’s budget policies are on the group’s ideological fringes. While Australia takes centre stage as this year’s G20 host, some of Joe Hockey’s budget policies are on the group’s ideological fringes. AAP/Daniel Munoz

As G20 host, our welfare policy is exposed to an unflattering light

Australia is hosting the G20 this year and showcasing to the world its approach to welfare policy: deny young people income support for up to six months and instead make more food vouchers available. This…
Treasurer Joe Hockey warned Australians that ‘the age of entitlement is over’ – a promise that certainly came true for young Australians in the federal budget. Treasurer Joe Hockey warned Australians that ‘the age of entitlement is over’ – a promise that certainly came true for young Australians in the federal budget. AAP/Lukas Coch

Young people are now on the edge of our reconfigured welfare state

The 2014-15 federal budget continues the deconstruction of Australia’s post-war welfare state. In fact, the budget takes it a step further, particularly for the young. People under the age of 30 will now…
Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann face a difficult sell for the Abbott government’s tough first budget. Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann face a difficult sell for the Abbott government’s tough first budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal budget 2014: political experts react

The Abbott government is hoping an A$11.6 billion infrastructure spending package, combined with a $20 billion medical research fund, will help soften the blow of widespread tightening of health and welfare…
The fair go has been selectively reinterpreted as applying only to competitive opportunities for the economically productive. The fair go has been selectively reinterpreted as applying only to competitive opportunities for the economically productive. John Englart (Takver)/Flickr

The state of Australia: welfare and inequality

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
When Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey present policies as if they are not choices, we should be sceptical. What choices has the government rejected? When Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey present policies as if they are not choices, we should be sceptical. What choices has the government rejected? Daniel Munoz/AAP

A fiscal crisis? It’s about political priorities and neglected choices

As the 2014-15 budget nears, Australians are hearing that the government must mount an urgent repair job to address the looming structural crisis that will see the budget in deficit for decades to come…
The Commission of Audit made much of the affordability of Australia’s core areas of social spending without any consideration of our social responsibilities. The Commission of Audit made much of the affordability of Australia’s core areas of social spending without any consideration of our social responsibilities. AAP/Tom Compagnoni

The Commission of Audit wants to rip up Australia’s social contract

The recommendations in the Commission of Audit’s report, which was released yesterday, would, if implemented, erode the fundamental building blocks of Australia’s social contract. The social contract…
Effective social work focuses on fostering meaningful human relationships for the common good. Effective social work focuses on fostering meaningful human relationships for the common good. Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

In defence of social service that puts the needs of people first

You might assume that social work, as one of Australia’s oldest and well-established caring professions, needn’t worry about its future. You’d be wrong. Far-reaching changes to organisational culture and…
Cuts to programmes like the EMA may weaken ties to the welfare state. Cuts to programmes like the EMA may weaken ties to the welfare state. Lewis Whyld/PA

Why young people are losing faith in the welfare state

Recent proposals for benefit reform have centred upon the argument that at present many people feel they get nothing for something from the welfare state, while those on benefits reap the rewards. The…
Howard government minister Mal Brough first proposed part-quarantining welfare payments in the lead-up to the Northern Territory intervention. Now it could become a mainstream welfare policy. Howard government minister Mal Brough first proposed part-quarantining welfare payments in the lead-up to the Northern Territory intervention. Now it could become a mainstream welfare policy. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Creeping spread of income management must be challenged

One of the bizarre bipartisan policy overlaps between the Coalition and Labor is in the area of income support known as welfare payments. Labor has been seen as the party that cared about the poor and…
The Big Society policy of Britain’s Conservative Party was to harness entrepreneurialism to social justice. The results have been mixed. The Big Society policy of Britain’s Conservative Party was to harness entrepreneurialism to social justice. The results have been mixed. Paul Clarke

Will more business-like social enterprises improve care?

As we hear more about looming federal public sector spending cuts and budget deficits, Australian governments seek new ways to meet diverse and growing human service needs. The challenges of an ageing…
Single parents' protests last year at being transferred to Newstart were ignored, and the evidence suggests the move made it harder to get suitable work to support their families. Single parents' protests last year at being transferred to Newstart were ignored, and the evidence suggests the move made it harder to get suitable work to support their families. AAP/Paul Miller

An 800,000-plus jobs gap between ‘welfare to work’ and reality

The major missing factor in debates on cutting welfare spending – as has been flagged by social services minister Kevin Andrews – is the limited and falling demand for labour. Labour market figures give…
Black economy: regulating sex work is easier said than done. Black economy: regulating sex work is easier said than done. Ian Britton

The Scarlet Isle: the politics of male sex work in Ireland

Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are taking steps towards new regulations for the sex work industry, principally aimed at better protecting victims of coercion and trafficking. However…
In a new book, former Labor leader Mark Latham and other prominent party figures attempt to diagnose the party’s malaise. In a new book, former Labor leader Mark Latham and other prominent party figures attempt to diagnose the party’s malaise. AAP/Alan Porritt

Book review: Not Dead Yet - What Future for Labor?

It is a sign of Labor’s crisis that Mark Latham, the party’s former parliamentary leader, has been re-admitted to polite centre-Left company. For his book Not Dead Yet: What Future for Labor?, Latham has…
It seems the Coalition will expand the compulsory income management scheme, which has little evidence backing up its worth. It seems the Coalition will expand the compulsory income management scheme, which has little evidence backing up its worth. AAP/Dan Peled

Income management: more evidence-free policymaking?

For a brief moment, it looked as though the Coalition would be better than the ALP on welfare policy. It appeared that the new government would listen to evidence for policy changes in its newly retitled…
There are strong cultural and historical links between Australia and New Zealand - so why are Kiwis not treated equally in Australia? There are strong cultural and historical links between Australia and New Zealand - so why are Kiwis not treated equally in Australia? AAP/Paul Miller

Where’s the choice, bro: Kiwis in Australia get a raw deal

Back in 1901, it was said there were 1200 reasons for New Zealand not to join the Commonwealth of Australia, as that’s how many miles of ocean separate the two countries. And there’s no likelihood that…
Single mothers on welfare need support for further education, not a cut to government payments. Single mothers on welfare need support for further education, not a cut to government payments. Single mother image from www.shutterstock.com

Single mothers need education, not welfare cuts

Unpopular Government cuts, introduced last year that have pushed more than 100,000 sole parents onto lower support payments, has left many families reeling with single mothers experiencing particular disadvantage…
Overprotective policies constrain kids and teach them to value risk assessment over opportunity. Overprotective policies constrain kids and teach them to value risk assessment over opportunity. Sim Dawdler/Flickr

Kids need to take risks: Mum and Dad will just have to deal with it

We take an “efficiency” approach to childhood and child-rearing in Australia. We want kids to grow up and become productive economic citizens without them deviating from identified pathways, and society…
Greater numbers of troubled teens are being abandoned by their parents and into the hands of the government. Greater numbers of troubled teens are being abandoned by their parents and into the hands of the government. Shutterstock

The hardest choice: families who give up disabled children

The theme of abandonment runs like a current through our most pressing national dilemmas. Asylum seekers abandon their home countries in the hope of a better life in Australia. Newly elected governments…
More than 600 young Australians with disabilities currently live in nursing homes. More than 600 young Australians with disabilities currently live in nursing homes.

It’s time to get young people out of nursing homes

Michelle Newland was 19 years old when she had a severe asthma attack that left her with hypoxic brain injury. After eight weeks, the hospital staff told Michelle’s parents that she was not suitable for…
Indoctrination is one of the key forces at play in any society. Indoctrination is one of the key forces at play in any society. flickr/lets.book

You have been indoctrinated (oh yes you have)

Despite its association with totalitarian societies of the left and right, indoctrination is also a common feature of societies that describe themselves as free: those where the coercive powers of the…
Quality relationships and time spent together is what’s important when it comes to children’s wellbeing. Quality relationships and time spent together is what’s important when it comes to children’s wellbeing. Flickr/disgustipado

Shared parenting: what’s really important when dads move out

The media often blame a lot of society’s problems on the break down of traditional family structures and the increase in single parent homes. When fathers no longer live at home, policy makers focus on…

Research and News (1)