Social policy

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The loss represents a setback for Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, whose negotiations with the crossbench failed. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Senate knocks out youth wait for benefits

The Senate has defeated the government's budget measure to make job seekers under 25 wait four weeks for income support.
Joe Hockey’s approach to reform would be to treat voters as consumers, with promises of lower taxes and more wealth. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Social stability is the missing link underpinning economic growth

Good societies with secure public systems will increase investment much faster than company or personal tax cuts.
Tony Abbott has flagged a plebiscite, or ‘people’s vote’, on same-sex marriage. AAP/Mick Tsikas

A plebiscite on marriage? Robert Menzies didn’t need it

Every generation in the last 150 years has seen in Australia a contest over marriage which reflects shifting positions on its defining features, and its associated rights and obligations.
Gagging clauses in contracts permit purchasers of research to modify, substantially delay, or prohibit the reporting of findings. stallio/Flickr

Governments shouldn’t be able to censor research results they don’t like

Government departments often commission research to help them understand and respond to policy issues. But they impose contract conditions that threaten to undermine the integrity of the work.
Patrick McClure’s recently released review of Australia’s welfare system borrowed heavily from the reform agenda across the ditch. AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia should think twice before adopting NZ welfare model

The claim that New Zealand's investment approach to welfare reform has been “very successful” is at best unproven. Arguably, it is plain wrong.
Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten are united in condemning violence against women and children, but both overlook the young people who are victims too. AAP/Lukas Coch

Sidelined and scorned: young people are set up to be soft targets

Responses to family violence by Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten and the terms of reference for Victoria's royal commission fail to mention young people. Such a lack of recognition has dire consequences.
Many services in NSW that previously operated as specialist women’s refuges have been dramatically transformed under recent reforms. shutterstock

The evidence supports specialist refuges for domestic violence

Research about specialist women’s domestic violence and other refuges does not support the claims made by NSW Family and Community Services Minister Gabrielle Upton that recent sweeping changes to these…
Osborne will have to do more if he wants to reach targets for social security spending. Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Deeper benefit cuts needed to hit Conservative target

A Green Budget for 2015 was released recently by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The detailed report on social security spending shows that a future government would have to implement much deeper cuts…
Getting the right balance between short- and medium-term ‘fixes’ may well be the most significant challenge for Social Services Minister Scott Morrison. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Shaping 2015: Social services need more than short-term fixes

Scott Morrison’s appointment as minister for social services in late December 2014 has been seen as an important step for the Abbott government as it moves towards its second budget. The tasks he faces…
They might seem similar on the face of it, but they have big differences in social policy. Chris Jackson/PA Wire

New report outlines lessons from the coalition’s social policy record

My colleagues and I marked 100 days to the next general election by publishing a suite of reports comprehensively documenting the social policy record of the current coalition government, as we have done…
Howard-era Human Rights Commissioner Sev Ozdowski is the new chairman of the revamped Australian Multicultural Council. AAP/Matthias Engesser

New Multicultural Council signals a broader shift to the right

Late in December, I took a phone call from a young woman working for the Department of Social Services. She had called, she said, because the department was checking its database of contacts, so that the…
Real and sustained engagement with Aboriginal people should be the starting point in rethinking Indigenous welfare policy. AAP/Marianna Massey

Income management doesn’t work, so let’s look at what does

In recent years, Tangentyere Council Research Hub has undertaken data collection in Alice Springs town camps as part of a longitudinal study of income management. The final report of around 300 pages was…
Housing First is a program that offers housing to homeless drug users – regardless of whether or not they’re drug free – with a goal of social recovery. Bryan Guilas/Flickr

Being drug free shouldn’t be a requirement to receive housing

Over the past decade, drug use in the US has risen dramatically, with heroin use reaching epidemic proportions. The country’s policy for combating abuse has involved incarceration, abstinence-only treatment…
Despite a fall in our rate of child poverty, there is reason to be concerned about recent changes and future trends in Australia. AAP/Joe Castro

Australia bucks child poverty trend but the future looks a lot bleaker

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has just released its latest report card on child well-being in 41 rich countries. In particular, the report looks at the effects of the economic crisis on children…

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