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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…
In office and in opposition, Gough Whitlam’s advocated for the Commonwealth Commission of Inquiry into Poverty. AAP/Dean Lewins

Whitlam’s forgotten legacy: a voice for the poor

Former prime minister Gough Whitlam, whose death at age 98 was announced on Tuesday, left significant legacies from his short time in office. Whatever their condition today, many of his government’s initiatives…
The ideology of the market struggles with the society-focused work of community volunteers. AAP/Julian Smith

As our voluntary sector vanishes, we mustn’t just wave it goodbye

Some community welfare sector commentators point to a new order for welfare where the private sector practises social responsibility, states seek to be more entrepreneurial and voluntary community organisations…
Tony Abbott keeps appointing businessmen like Andrew Forrest, who have limited expertise in analysing evidence and developing social policy, to advise the government. AAP/Nikki Short

Forrest report ignores what works and why in Indigenous policy

The Creating Parity report on Indigenous employment and welfare, released last week by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, is in much the same vein as Tony Shepherd’s recent Commission of Audit. Forrest and…
Working out what’s going on isn’t as easy as it looks. Social worker by Shutterstock

Social workers should be paid and trained like doctors

Social workers deal with messy, complex and ambiguous situations where off-the-peg solutions are often irrelevant. Take a mother who wants to feed a hungry baby, but her fridge is empty because she can’t…
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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…

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