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Australian social policy and social work practice Professor Lesley Chenoweth Griffith University...

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  • Australian social policy and social work practice

    Professor Lesley ChenowethGriffith University Queensland, Australia

  • Overview

    Australian social welfare overview Social work in AustraliaDiscussion & Questions

  • The Australian context Australian post-war welfare state British originsWage earners welfare state (Castles, 1983)Federated model Commonwealth & State responsibilities

  • Tiers of Government

  • The Australian context Macro changes over the past two decadesEconomic globalisationRise of neo-classical economicsNew public managementDownsizing the welfare state

  • Shift in distribution of income, power & resources

  • Welfare reformGradual dismantling of the welfare state over last 20 yearsGlobal economic forces tariff removals, reconfigured industry and domestic labour market Old reliance on full-time, life long employment now redundant OECD recommendations undoing of social citizenship rights under income security policies (McDonald & Chenoweth, 2006)

  • Welfare reformReduction of welfare Initially target- long-term unemployed (1990s)Development of WorkfareFocus on obligations rather than rightsMore recently since 2005people with disabilities single parents

  • Key features of current welfare provisionsHighly targetedFunded by general revenueLow levels of paymentPeople on benefits live with significant financial stressDecreasing levels of public support for some payments - eg unemployed (Ziguras, 2006)

  • Social issues current Child protection Ageing populationHealth Indigenous AustraliansDisabilityHomelessnessRefugees and asylum seekersRegional and rural communitiesThe social inclusion agenda

  • Australians enjoy one of the longest life expectancies intheworld

    1. 2001 data 2. 2004 dataNote: Ireland, Italy and Luxembourg excluded from 2004 OECD life expectancy dataSource: OECD, Health Data 2005; Productivity Commission, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage (2007) "Strategic Areas For Action"Life expectancy at birth in top 20 OECD countries: 2005However Indigenous Australians have an average life expectancy of 59.4 for men and 64.8 for women1 71.3For more on Indigenous health and disadvantage, see The Future of Indigenous Australia

  • Social work in AustraliaIn 1939, the first degree level social work program at Uni of Sydney. In 2010, 26 degree programs across AustraliaSocial work BSW degree MSW Professional body Australian Association of Social Workers AASWAASW accredits programs including a 4-year BSocWk, 2-year graduate entry and since 2008, a Masters qualifying program (Healy & Lonne, 2010)Social workers employed in: Federal government eg Centrelink State governments eg child protection , health , disability, mental health Community sector - large charities, faith based agencies, small to medium organisations Private practice - increasing

    *

  • Social work in AustraliaSocial work is not a registered profession unlike in UK, USA and New Zealand (Lonne & Duke 2008)Participation rate of low income students in Higher Education is lower than representation in the community, and static since 2002Significant reforms since 1986 have led to greater co-operation between higher education and Vocational Education sector (in Healy & Lonne, 2010) and improved pathways from VET sector into Higher Education*

  • Trends in Social Work and Human Services Human services 4th fastest industry sector Demand for qualified practitioners is high Rural and remote recruitment and retention Some sectors employing 3 year trained graduates eg child protection, NGOsCasualisation of workforceMore flexible modes of delivery

  • Trends in Social Work and Human Services Decreased professional autonomy Management of risk (Healy& Meagher, 2004; Baines,2006)Move to use of ICT technologies call centres, on line counselling Use of computer technology for surveillance of clients?Fly in fly out service delivery to remote areas

  • Centrelink Government agency administers eligibility, payments and complianceEmploys large numbers of social workers (650+)Sites of service delivery offices and call centresHighly technologised (ICT) service delivery Coordinates Australia disaster social work responses eg:Asian tsunamiVictorian bushfiresBali bombings

  • On a typical day, Centrelink IT supports 55,000 business function points in 14 million lines of code through 8000 functions on 3200 screens to 31,000 desktops and 400 LAN servers in 1000 sites. This means that 13,000 users concurrently generate 12 million online transactions each day on 14 million customer records (Vardon, 2003)

  • Questions and Discussion Does Australia have too many levels of government and service delivery? What do you think are the main features of social welfare in Australia?How are they different/ similar to Norway? What do you see as the roles for social workers in Australia? Should Australian social workers become registered?

    These changes have impacted on human services in a myriad of ways eg Since Dawkins report in 1986, introductions of HECS fees and greater reliance on funding bother than Cwealth there has been greater co-operation between higher education and VET sector

    *Since Dawkins report in 1986, introductions of HECS fees and greater reliance on funding bother than Cwealth there has been greater co-operation between higher education and VET sector

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