Inclusive Growth in Australia: Social Policy as Economic Investment

Inclusive Growth in Australia: Social Policy as Economic Investment

Inclusive Growth in Australia: Social Policy as Economic Investment

Inclusive Growth in Australia: Social Policy as Economic Investment

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to stimulate a new public conversation about the future of social policy in Australia. Look around at the quiet escalation of policy activity: the growth of family payments, paid parental leave, national disability insurance, education funding reforms and so on. It began almost by stealth, has never had a clear political narrative to sustain it and remains incomplete. Today, it is almost as though Australians do not know how to talk about social policies in a positive way—especially when they involve more government action. At one level, this is a deep-seated colonial legacy. In the nineteenth century, we did want a world without welfare’, and never quite got used to the necessity of the welfare state that developed from the mid-twentieth century. More recently, of course, the economic reform paradigm of the 1980s and 1990s so inflated the role of markets that the old colonial aspiration got a new lease of life—small as it might have been by international comparison, our miniature welfare state appeared to face a future of permanent austerity. The national conversation was dragged down into the clichés of welfare wars’, poverty wars’ and ending welfare as we know it’. Today, however, there has been a fundamental renewal of thinking about the role of social policy across the globe, and Australia needs to catch up. This book reports on these international paradigm shifts as a basis for building a muchneeded and more constructive national debate about the positive roles social policy might play in twenty-first-century Australia.

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