Chapter 10 Australia's rural welfare policy: overlooked and demoralised

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In the decades since World War II, Australia has moved from a vibrant, universalist welfare system, based on the rights of citizens to receive income support, to a residualist system that is highly targeted, based on harsh and increasingly punitive eligibility requirements and which re-defines recipients as ‘clients’. These developments have happened slowly, some would say insidiously, as Australia moved from a supportive environment where the notion of collective responsibility for the vulnerable was accepted and, indeed, embraced. More recently collectivism has been replaced by the notion of individualism in what McDonald (2006, p. 10) refers to as ‘a silent surrender of public responsibility’. Individuals and/or their families are expected to absorb their own welfare needs as much as possible, while those that fall to the public purse are treated with some suspicion, particularly if they fall into categories of the ‘undeserving’ poor. In Australia the ranks of the ‘undeserving’ appear to be widening beyond single parents and the unemployed to include those with disabilities and young people.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWelfare Reform in Rural Places
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Perspectives
EditorsPaul Milbourne
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameResearch in Rural Sociology and Development
ISSN (Print)1057-1922

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