Room to move? Professional discretion at the frontline of welfare-to-work

McDonald, C and Marston, G 2006, 'Room to move? Professional discretion at the frontline of welfare-to-work', Australian journal of social issues, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 171-182.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Room to move? Professional discretion at the frontline of welfare-to-work
Author(s) McDonald, C
Marston, G
Year 2006
Journal name Australian journal of social issues
Volume number 41
Issue number 2
Start page 171
End page 182
Total pages 12
Publisher Harwood press, inc.
Abstract Outcomes of social policies have always been mediated by the discretionary agency of front-line staff, processes which nevertheless have received insufficient attention in policy evaluation and in the social policy literature more broadly. This article takes the case example of the policy reforms associated with the Australian government's welfare-to-work agenda. Drawing on two discreet research projects undertaken at different points in the policy trajectory, the practices of social workers in Centrelink - the Commonwealth government's primary service delivery agency involved in welfare-to-work - is examined. Centrelink social workers have been and remain one of the core groups of specialist staff since the Department's inception in the late 1940s, working to improve the well being of people in receipt of income security. Their experiences of the recent past and their expectations of the future of their professional practice as welfare reform becomes more entrenched are canvassed. In summary, the discretionary capacity of the Centrelink social workers to moderate or shape the impact of policy on income security recipients is steadily eroding as this group of professionals is increasingly captured by the emerging practices of workfare.
ISSN 1558-8742
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