Mutual Obligation and Contemporary Welfare Reform Debates. (Editorial)

By Brennan, Deborah; Cass, Bettina | Australian Journal of Social Issues, August 2002 | Go to article overview

Mutual Obligation and Contemporary Welfare Reform Debates. (Editorial)


Brennan, Deborah, Cass, Bettina, Australian Journal of Social Issues


This special issue of the Australian Journal of Social Issues has its origins in a Workshop on Mutual Obligation and Welfare States in Transition co-sponsored by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the University of Sydney in February, 2001. The workshop convenors were Deborah Brennan, Bettina Cass and Moira Gatens, all of the University of Sydney. The papers in this issue of the Australian Journal of Social Issues are a selection of the papers presented at the Workshop, selected because they address various key aspects of the policy discourse on mutual obligation and the debates about and processes of contemporary welfare reform in Australia. In particular, the papers focus on reform of income support and employment policies as these affect the obligations and entitlements of people of workforce age, as they negotiate the contemporary risks of unemployment and joblessness under changing economic and labour market circumstances.

The first paper in this Special Issue looks not to the mutual obligations falling on individuals, but the responsibilities falling on government. Alison McClelland's paper ("Mutual Obligation and the Welfare Responsibilities of Government") considers the way in which `mutual obligation' has operated under the Coalition government, and how it might operate if the proposals put forward in the Report of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform (McClure Report) were to be implemented. Her paper identifies three `welfare responsibilities of government': to protect the vulnerable, to develop capacity to function in the contemporary risk-ridden environment, and to promote social cohesion. She argues that current applications of mutual obligation may actually reduce the likelihood of governments meeting their welfare responsibilities. The harsh administration of the breaching provisions associated with welfare recipiency is one indication of this. Her paper raises the possibility that the `capacity building' role of governments--the extent to which they assist individuals, families and communities to function effectively in a changing environment--could also be reduced by current arrangements. This could happen if people's choices are constrained rather than enlarged by welfare practices. Further, a policy focus giving priority to individual behaviour and motivation and moving away from building the capacity of institutions, especially education, training and employment programs, is likely to be ineffective in meeting the three welfare responsibilities of government outlined above.

Working across traditional disciplinary boundaries and reframing the debates accordingly, Valerie Braithwaite, Moira Gatens and Deborah Mitchell's paper ("If Mutual Obligation is the Answer, What is the Question?") has the objective of bringing clarity to the redesign of the Australian welfare system. Their paper gives prominence to the problem of contemporary risk as the pertinent question which lies behind the need for welfare reform. They offer a critical contrast between Lawrence Mead's approach to welfare reform through enforcement of mutual obligation and an approach more compatible with Marshallian social values, which links both citizenship entitlement and obligation. Finally, they propose equitable and effective ways of understanding mutual obligation and protecting against risk in line with values of harmony, not divisiveness.

Bettina Cass and Deborah Brennan's paper ("Communities of Support or Communities of Surveillance and Enforcement in Welfare Reform Debates") examines one of the key words in the contemporary Australian welfare reform debate--the contested uses of the concept of `community'. The idea of community is invoked in Commonwealth government strategies such as `Strengthening Families and Communities' and the `Community-Business' Initiative and has a central role in the Interim and Final reports of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform (McClure Report) and the Government's response to the Report. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mutual Obligation and Contemporary Welfare Reform Debates. (Editorial)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.