The Research and Policy Centre fosters dialogue through research events including a lunchtime seminar series, conferences and workshops, such as the social inclusion workshops program.
For upcoming events see What's on
Many research events are open to researchers, students and other interested members of the public. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to attend a seminar, or register to get updates for advance notice of research events.
Our lunchtime seminar series runs during university semesters, usually on Thursdays, 12 noon to 1 pm (*unless indicated otherwise) at 67 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, in Father Tucker's Room.
Recent seminars and conferences are listed below, with related papers and presentations.
Research events 2013
See What's on for a calendar of events
Complex disadvantage: does collective impact have application here in Australia?
Dawn O’Neil AM
9 May 2013
In Australia, we have a proud tradition of caring for those who face economic and social disadvantage and tackling public health challenges such as workplace injury, smoking and drink driving. But why do we have limited success in solving other complex challenges such as homelessness, mental illness and obesity .
Dawn O'Neil and her colleague Kerry Graham have been growing the field of Collective Impact in Australia. This is a structured framework for successful collaborations to tackle complex, place-based, social problems. Outstanding examples of Australian collaboration include the work of United Way and the Pathways to Prevention project.
Dawn O'Neil has been leading effective change in the social and mental health sector for over 20 years. Previously the CEO of beyondblue and Lifeline, Dawn has sat on numerous nationalgovernment advisory committees and other boards and in 2009 was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community and to mental health. Dawn currently consults in social sector leadership, collaborative and participatory change, and increasing social impact.
Dawn O'Neil's presentation will be available shortly.
Using social expertise to evaluate expert claims in social policy
Dr Luke Buckmaster and Dr Matthew Thomas, Commonwealth Parliamentary Library
2 May 2013
Policy makers are increasingly required to make decisions on complex issues that involve significant public risks. Many of these issues, from genetically modified foods to nuclear energy, have scientific aspects. Social policy too involves complex technical content in areas as diverse as neuroscience, developmental psychology, statistical modelling, pharmacoeconomics, microeconomics, the law, ethnography and public financing. In this context, all policy makers are becoming more reliant on the advice of experts as an authoritative basis for legitimate decision making. How can non-experts (lay people) evaluate expert claims in complex, technical domains. We argue that the only way to do so is through the use of social expertise – expertise using everyday social judgements that enables lay people to distinguish who rather than what ought to be believed. As such, we focus on identifying how lay people’s social expertise might be improved and their ability to become active rather than passive consumers of technical expertise enhanced.
Luke Buckmaster has an Honours Degree in Development Studies and a PhD in Political Sociology from the Australian National University. He has worked as a researcher for the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and an advisor to the former federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, and is currently a Senior Researcher, Social Policy, with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library.
Matthew Thomas holds an Honours Degree in Sociology from the University of South Australia and a PhD in Political Sociology from the Australian National University. He has worked as a policy analyst at the then Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, in policy and evaluation in FaHCSIA and DEEWR, and is currently a Senior Researcher, Social Policy, with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library.
Luke Buckmaster and Matthew Thomas' presentation (PDF file, 954 KB)
Social, economic and political factors that drive social spending increases in China
Dr Binqin Li, Associate Professor, Crawrord School of Public Affairs, Australian National University
18 April 2013
Bingqin Li discussed the pattern of social spending in China and the projection for the coming five to ten years. She explained the factors driving the growing social spending,the related challenges facing Chinese society and the interaction between political changes and the construction of social needs. Her key argument is that the Chinese social welfare system has functioned as an effective tool to maintain social stability and facilitate economic growth; however, major challenges are yet to come as the economy is going through further structural changes.
Bingqin Li grew up in China, where she studied economics and worked in finance. She then studied social policy at London School of Economics and later joined the faculty. In January 2013 she moved to Australia, and took up an Associate Professorship at ANU. Her research interests and teaching experience include housing, urbanization, migration, urban governance, social policy reform, and development more broadly. Much but not all of her work has a China or Asia focus. Dr Bingqin Li has consulted for the World Bank, the European Union, UN Habitat, WHO and the Chinese Government.
Bingqin Li's presentation (PDF file, 816 KB)
Comparative social protection through time: industrial relations and social policy in Australia and New Zealand Ssnce 1890
Associate Professor Gaby Ramia, Graduate School of Government, The University of Sydney
11 April 2013
In comparative social policy research, long-term histories which trace developments to the present time are rare. Interpretations of similarity and difference between nations depend on which policy spheres are compared, for which periods, and with which methodologies. This presentation will use historical-institutionalist methodology to compare Australia and New Zealand on the relationship between industrial relations and social policy since the formal beginnings of social protection in the 1890s. The discussion will start from the pre-World War I era, moving through the inter-war years, the post-World War II welfare state, the restructuring of the 1980s and 1990s, and finally recent developments. I will argue that understanding the problems of social protection today requires deep analysis of a few key institutions created long ago, and that social policy requires industrial relations in order to explain the broader, more useful concept of social protection.
Gaby Ramia is a PhD alumnus of the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW. His main research areas are the regulation of international education and the welfare of international students; contractualism, public management and employment services; and the relationship between industrial relations and social policy.
Gaby Ramia''s presentation (PDF file, 109 KB)
Canada/Australia projects in support of Karen refugees: post-secondary education and settlement research
Duncan MacLaren, Australian Catholic University, and Susan McGrath, York University, Toronto
4 April 2013
York University in Toronto and Australian Catholic University are collaborating on two projects that support the Karen people. Duncan MacLaren will talk about ACU’s Refugee Program on the Thailand–Burma border which offers a Diploma in Liberal Studies to Burmese refugees and migrant students (most of them Karen) and how this higher education program has transformed the students' lives. He will also address the current border situation in the light of the reforms by Thein Sein's government in Burma.
Susan McGrath of York University will present early findings from a research project that compares the settlement experiences of Karen refugees in Canada and Australia. Both countries were part of a UNHCR group processing program to resettle several thousand ethnic minority refugees from Burma who had been living for years in camps along the Thailand–Burma border.
Duncan MacLaren lectures in international development studies, ethics and Catholic social teaching at Australian Catholic University in Sydney and, since 2008, has coordinated the university’s diploma program for Burmese refugees and migrants in Mae Sot and Ranong. He is the former Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, one of the world’s largest international aid and development networks.
Dr Susan McGrath is a Professor in the School of Social Work at York University in Toronto and served as Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies from 2004 to 2012. Her research interests include refugee resettlement, community development, community-based mental health programs and transnational social work. She is currently a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University. Dr McGrath leads a global Refugee Research Network working on forced migration issues (see www.refugeeresearch.net)
Susan McGrath and Duncan MacLaren''s presentations will be available shortly.
Federal election 2013: what is the electoral outlook? Where do the parties stand on the social policy issues? How can the social sector influence the policy agenda?
Nicholas Reece, Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne
28 March 2013
Where will the September 2013 federal election be won and lost and what will be the deciding issues? Where do the political parties stand on the key issues of concern to the social services sector? How can the social sector influence the policy agenda? Nick Reece brought together his years of experience in the development of public policy and the running of political campaigns to provide a lively overview of what to expect in the September election. He also provided candid advice on what the social services sector can do to influence the agenda and policy commitments of the parties.
Nicholas Reece has been a lawyer, journalist, party secretary and senior adviser to two state premiers (Steve Bracks and John Brumby) and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. From 2009 to 2010 Nick was secretary of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria, overseeing federal and state election campaigns. Nick is also a director of the street newspaper and homelessness service provider, The Big Issue.
Nicholas Reece's presentation (PDF file, 417 KB)
The impacts on low-income households of rising energy prices
Dr Lynne Chester, University of Sydney
21 March 2013
Dr Lynne Chester presented the findings of a project investigating the impacts on low-income households of higher energy bills. Through interviews and focus groups, data was collected from 130 households in the capital city and a regional centre in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Dr Chester, an economist, has previously held positions at the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy, Curtin University, and the University of New South Wales. She has written extensively on the Australian electricity sector and energy security. Dr Chester was an independent member of the federal government’s 2011–12 Energy White Paper Reference Group, and is currently a Board member for the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority and the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, and Chair of AGL’s Customer Council. Prior to joining academia, Lynne was a consultant to the Asian Development Bank, a senior executive with two of Australia’s largest utility companies (Energy Australia and Sydney Water), Chief of Staff to federal ministers, and an adviser to the South Australian premier.
Lynne Chester's presentation will be available shortly.
Integrating health and mental health care for children through policy and practice change
Dr Judith Meyers, President and CEO, Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut and the Children’s Fund of Connecticut
14 March 2013
The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI) is a not-for-profit organisation established to promote and maximise the healthy physical, behavioural, emotional, cognitive and social development of children. CHDI works to ensure that children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, will have access to and make use of a comprehensive, effective, community-based health and mental health care system.
Dr Meyers discussed the concept of integrated care with a focus on policy and practice challenges and solutions, including the role of primary care providers in managing the growing number of children using psychotropic medications to treat behavioural health disorders.
Dr Meyers, a clinical and community psychologist, has led the CHDI for the past 14 years. Her previous positions include Associate Director of the Bush Program in Child Development and Social Policy at the University of Michigan and Senior Policy Advisor to Massachusetts Governor Dukakis.
Judith Meyers' presentation (PDF file, 845 KB)
Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory: early findings
Professor Ilan Katz, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
7 March 2013
After graduating in South Africa, Ilan Katz started his career as a social worker in the United Kingdom. He was for several years Head of Practice Development and Research at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. After working in the Department for Education and Skills he returned to research as Deputy Director of the Policy Research Bureau. Professor Katz joined the Social Policy Research Centre in January 2005, serving as Director from 2007 to 2011. His research interests include evidence-based policy, evaluation of complex programs, parenting, child protection, youth justice, early intervention, prevention and family support, children and communities, social inclusion and child outcomes, comparative child welfare systems, migration, race and ethnicity and disability.
Ilan Katz is also currently the Chief investigator of the Evaluation of New Income Management in the Northern Territory (FaHCSIA).
Ilan Katz's presentation (PDF file, 407 KB)
Research events 2012
Addressing the drivers of rising energy prices – the opportunities and risks for vulnerable households
Workshop hosted with ACOSS
14 November 2012
Read about the workshop and presentations
Forum on Insecure Work
18 October 2012
Sara Charlesworth The consequences of insecure work for women workers and prospects for decent work in Australia (PDF file, 961 KB)
International Forum on Inclusive Growth, Welfare and Development Policy
hosted with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne
29 June 2012
View program and Inclusive Growth forum presentations
Symposium: a better offer for young people
hosted with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the University of Melbourne
22 June 2012
Australian and international researchers, federal and state government representatives and community sector leaders reviewed recent youth policies and programs and considered what an improved policy landscape for all young people might look like.
Symposium presentations included:
Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson (PDF file, 3.5 MB)
Dr Joseph Borlagdan, Brotherhood of St Laurence (PDF file, 1 MB)
Dr Lance Emerson, ARACY (PDF file, 385 KB)
Colin Falconer, Director of Innovation, Foyer Federation, UK (PDF file, 1 MB)
Professor Stephen Lamb, Melbourne Graduate School of Education (PDF file, 2.4 MB)
Professor John Polesel, Melbourne Graduate School of Education (PDF file, 690 KB)
Glenda Quintini, Labour Economist, OECD (PDF file, 1.9 MB)
Youth Voices symposium visual display (PDF file, 1.6 MB)
Will a smaller state create a bigger society in Australia?
Professor Helen Sullivan, Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne
25 October 2012
Public service reform is never far from the minds of newly elected governments particularly in times of fiscal constraint. The pressure to cut budgets combined with a determination to ‘do something’ about the size and scope of the state can generate radical recipes for reform. Recent announcements in Victoria, NSW and Queensland clearly indicate policy makers’ appetite for reform and attention is rightly being drawn to the impact of the proposed job losses on public sector employment and public service delivery.
However these announcements also provide insights into the kind of relationship or social contract the administrations want to create between citizens and the state. There are interesting similarities between the proposed programs of non-Labor states in Australia and the UK Coalition government’s agenda for the Big Society. This seminar examines the rhetoric and the reality of the ‘Big Society’ agenda two years after its launch and identifies lessons for Australian policy makers contemplating a similar program.
Professor Helen Sullivan is Director of the Centre for Public Policy at the University of Melbourne. She previously held posts at the University of Birmingham and the Cities Research Centre in Bristol. Helen’s research focuses on changing state–society relations. Her current project explores the impact of ‘the Asian century’ on public administration, governance and management. Helen is the co-author of books including Working across boundaries (2002) and Power, participation and political renewal (2007).
Helen Sullivan's presentation (PDF file, 2.05 MB)
Participation and social inclusion: why measure quality in early childhood education and care?
Dan Cloney, Research Fellow at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne
11 October 2012
Children participate in a range of early childhood education and care programs(long day care, family day care, limited hours or occasional care, kindergarten), whose quality can vary widely. International research evidence highlights the significance of the quality of program provision for optimal outcomes for children, but to date there has been little evidence about the essential components of programs for young children in Australia.
This presentation introduced early findings from E4Kids (Effective Early Educational Experiences) a longitudinal study of more than 2500 children in Victoria and Queensland. E4Kids investigates children¹s abilities, family backgrounds and the quality of early childhood programs, including staff training and resources, and the experiences of children. The E4Kids study is conducted by the University of Melbourne and Queensland University of Technology, funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Scheme in partnership with the Victorian and Queensland education departments .
Dan Cloney's presentation (PDF file, 3.6 MB)
Older prisoners: a developing concern
Dr Azrini Wahidin, Reader in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Queen’s University, Belfast
27 September 2012
For the first time, nations are faced with the dilemma of managing prisons with ageing populations. Prison officials responsible for making decisions about older prisoners are raising concerns about how best to respond. Although a number of countries have commissioned studies to investigate and make policy recommendations, the body of knowledge on older prisoners and meeting their special needs is modest and prisons have been slow to respond to the physical and mental needs of these prisoners. This paper will identify some issues raised from the US and UK experience and will consider policy recommendations.
Azrini Wahidin's publications include Ageing, crime and society (with Maureen Cain), Older women in the criminal justice system: running out of time; Understanding prison staff (Crewe and Bennett eds), and Criminal justice (Hale, Hayward and Wincup, eds). She is a trustee of the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Irish Penal Reform Trust.
(There is no online presentation for this seminar)
Taking stock: markets in Australian social policy
Professor Gabrielle Meagher and Associate Professor Susan Goodwin, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney
20 September 2012
In recent decades, powerful new private actors, both non-profit and for-profit ,have emerged in the Australian social policy arena, as governments have expanded social provision without expanding the public sector. Governments have used a variety of instruments, including directly subsidising private provision, contracting private agencies (both non-profit and for-profit) to deliver services, and subsidising consumer purchases from approved private providers using tax expenditures and other voucher-like instruments. Policies have been rolled out at different rates across the range of human services, yet a synopsis of the scale, internal structure, and impact of markets in Australian social policy has yet to be created.
The paper explores these developments, as they occur in the diverse – but by no means complete – set of social policy domains explored in our forthcoming collection, Markets, Rights and Power in Australian Social Policy. We will also discuss the effects of marketisation, including impacts on the consumer's experience of social services, on the distribution of social advantage and disadvantage, and on the democratic steering of social policy.
Gabrielle Meagher 's research interests include the impact of privatisation and personalisation on the way social care services are practised (by social service workers), organised (within and between different kinds of social service agencies), distributed (between social groups), experienced (by service users) and understood (by broader publics).
Susan Goodwin's research focuses on social policy, gender, community capacity building and NGO social policy knowledge production. She is co-author of The Sociological Bent: inside metro culture and Social Policy for Social Change and co-editor of The Good Mother: Contemporary motherhoods in Australia and Schools, Communities and Social Inclusion.
(This presentation is not available online)
Recent trends in social exclusion: measurement and meaning
Professor Peter Saunders, University of New South Wales
6 September 2012
This presentation will discuss some of the conceptual limitations of social exclusion and describe the framework developed at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) to identify the nature and extent of social exclusion in the Australian context. It will use the framework and data from two SPRC surveys conducted in 2006 and 2010 to examine how different dimensions of exclusion changed over a period that spans the emergence and aftermath of the global financial crisis. It will then discuss the conceptual differences between social exclusion and poverty and illustrate them empirically by examining the overlap between them and identifying who is experiencing core disadvantage – defined as being both poor and excluded. Finally, a range of indicators of subjective well-being will be used to help establish whether the indicators used to identify exclusion (and poverty) are capturing the constraints imposed by external circumstances, or reflect internal preferences and the choice to participate or not participate in specific activities.
Professor Peter Saunders was the Director of the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at the University of New South Wales from 1987 until 2007, and now holds a Research Chair in Social Policy within the Centre. His research interests include poverty and income distribution, household needs and living standards, social security reform, comparative social policy and ageing and social protection in China. His recent books include The Ends and Means of Welfare. Coping with Economic and Social Change in Australia (Cambridge University Press, 2002), The Poverty Wars, Reconnecting Research with Reality, (UNSW Press, 2005) and Down and Out: Poverty and Exclusion in Australia (Policy Press, 2011).
Peter Saunders' presentation (PDF file, 188 KB)
Research meets policy making: overcoming the hurdles
Emeritus Professor Meredith Edwards, University of Canberra
30 August 2012
How do policy makers get informed and what do they want from researchers? How can the cultural divide between researchers and policy makers be overcome? This seminar addresses these questions and provides a forum for discussion on practical suggestions to a complex and messy topic.
Emeritus Professor Meredith Edwards AM was Founding Director of the National Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra and had been Deputy Vice-Chancellor from 1997 to 2002. Earlier, she was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. An economist, Professor Edwards in 2001 published Social policy, public policy: from problem to practice. More recently she has undertaken many governance reviews in the public sector.
Meredith Edwards' presentation (PDF file, 224 KB)
Parental joblessness and children's developmental outcomes
Matthew Gray, Professor of Public Policy, Australian National University
23 August 2012
Despite relatively low overall unemployment, joblessness among families with children is high in Australia compared with many other OECD countries. This paper uses data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to explore the impact of growing up in a jobless family on the developmental outcomes of children. It focuses on the mechanisms by which parental joblessness may impact upon children and the potential service delivery and policy responses.
Matthew Gray has published widely on economic and social policy issues. and was involved in the evaluations of the 2006 changes to the family law system and the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.
Matthew Gray's presentation (PDF file, 1.1 MB)
Injustice faced by Indigenous people: ‘What should I do?'
Dr Clare Land, Resarch Fellow, School of Heath and Social Development, Deakin University
16 August 2012
This seminar drew on Clare’s PhD research, which was based on interviews with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in southeast Australia and explored how activists deal with the complexities of relationships across difference. The seminar looked at examples of how non-Indigenous people have grappled with questions thrown up by the contradiction of attempting to resist, but being entangled in colonialist ways and systems. How have progressive non-Indigenous community practitioners come to terms with this bind in their lives and work? What is their response to the question ‘What should I do?’ A greater challenge might be to consider: What are the limits to what I will do?
Clare Land is an Anglo-identified non-Indigenous person, who recently completed her PhD (The politics of solidarity with Indigenous struggles in southeast Australia) at Deakin University. With Gunai/Maar man Robbie Thorpe, Clare has co-presented a community radio program focusing on colonialism, broadcast on 3CR in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Her emphasis on developing non-Indigenous people’s support for justice struggles of Indigenous peoples is reflected in her role as Chairperson of the Committee of Management of ANTaR Victoria – Working for Land Justice and Reconciliation, where she is currently . The Brotherhood of St Laurence provides significant in-kind support to ANTaR Victoria.
Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: using research to inform policy and practice reform
Associate Professor Philip Mendes, Director, Social Inclusion and Social Policy Research Unit, Department of Social Work, Monash University
9 August 2012
Young people leaving state out-of-home care are arguably one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society. Compared to most young people, they face particular difficulties in accessing educational, employment, housing and other developmental and transitional opportunities. This paper uses recent Australian and international research to illuminate what works with care leavers and identify badly needed policy and practice reforms.
Philip Mendes is the lead author of Young people leaving state out-of-home care: a research-based study of Australian policy and practice, published in 2011. He is currently leading a three-year research project with seven NGO partners, funded by the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust, titled "Young people transitioning from Out-of-Home Care in Victoria",
Philip Mendes' presentation (PDF file, 47 KB)
Valuing capabilities in later life
Dr Helen Kimberley, Principal Researcher, Retirement and Ageing, Research and Policy Centre, Brotherhood of St Laurence; Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Science, University of Melbourne.
26 July 2012
Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize winning economist, conceived the notion of capabilities as the freedom or opportunities people have to choose a life they have reason to value. Sen’s capability approach was the starting point for a major innovative research project at the Brotherhood of St Laurence which began with a study of what users of BSL aged services value most highly in life and what they would like to improve in order to choose a life they have reason to value. This presentation will provide an overview of the capability approach, explain the new ways that we are using it in our research and report on our findings about which capabilities users of BSL aged services value.
Helen Kimberley's presentation (PDF file, 174 KB)
Social justice and adaptation to sea-level rise in Gippsland East
Dr Sonia Graham, Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne
24 May 2012
As knowledge and modeling of the risks of sea-level rise builds momentum so too does the need to begin processes to adapt to avoid these risks. This seminar will be an informal discussion of an ongoing ARC Linkage Project in Gippsland East which aims to understand the equity dimensions of climate change for small coastal communities. Among the research locales are Lakes Entrance, Port Albert, Seaspray, Manns Beach and McLoughlins Beach. We will present findings about policy-makers’ views of the ‘problem’ in this area, and emerging insights about the nature of social justice with respect to adaptation to sea-level rise.
Dr Sonia Graham presented for Jon Barnett, Professor in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at the University of Melbourne.
Sonia Graham's presentation (PDF file, 1.4 MB)
Sonia Graham's seminar audio (MP3 file, 13.3 MB)
A better offer for all young people
Dr Joseph Borlagdan, Research Manager, School to Work, Research & Policy Centre, Brotherhood of St Laurence
17 May 2012
Despite the efforts of state and federal governments, Australia still faces a substantial challenge in addressing the stubborn levels of youth disengagement and social exclusion. How can we ensure that all young people are offered the opportunities to enhance their economic and social wellbeing? As a work in progress, this presentation will highlight the gaps in the current approach and propose the key principles and actions that would support a more effective and efficient youth policy framework. It brings together evidence from the Brotherhood’s service innovation and policy analysis to influence a national reform agenda, a new ‘Youth Offer'. Assumptions that the ‘youth’ problem can be addressed through punitive conditionality agreements targeting individual behaviour change distract from a needed focus on the risks and obstacles located at the structural, systemic and community level. Under this new social contract, a coherent policy would ensure that all young people have the necessary supports and services to more fully participate in society.
Joseph Borlagdan gained a PhD in Sociology from Flinders University in 2005, and joined the Research and Policy Centre in 2011. He previously worked at the Australian Drug Foundation and at the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction. Joseph has also lectured in the Sociology Department of Flinders University and the Communication School of the University of South Australia.
Joseph Borlagdan's presentation (PDF file, 844 KB)
Joseph Borlagdan's seminar audio (MP3 file, 10.7 MB)
Volunteering, social inclusion and productive ageing: challenges to the recruitment and retention of older volunteers
Professor Jeni Warburton, John Richards Initiative, La Trobe University
3 May 2012
Volunteering contributes to the richness, stability and cohesion of our society, improves quality of life and maintains social inclusion. Older people have been identified as a key source of volunteers, contributing more time than volunteers of any other age group. Volunteering is a key productive and healthy ageing strategy, as it is socially productive and provides social and health benefits for older individuals. However, profound changes are occurring in the contemporary volunteering world, with a significant impact on the recruitment and retention of older volunteers. This paper will discuss these challenges by drawing on data from an in-depth study of volunteering in local community services.
Jeni Warburton presentation (PDF file, 662 KB)
Jeni Warburton seminar audio (MP3 file, 12.6 MB)
Debunking economics: global financial instability and a deteriorating Australian credit market
Professor Steve Keen, Economist, University of Western Sydney
26 April 2012
The global financial crisis (GFC) has challenged the conventional wisdom of neoclassical economics. In the aftermath to the economic crisis that began in 2007, there is little disagreement that financial markets are characterised by instability rather than stability. Nonconventional economist Professor Hyman Minsky provided great insight into the true nature of financial markets through his Financial Instability Hypothesis. Minsky’s theories were ignored in favour of the idealised, stable equilibrium – based models. In Australia, financial instability has not yet been realised, though slowing credit markets are demonstrating adversities to the neoclassical synthesis.
Professor Steve Keen is a distinguished nonorthodox academic economist who publishes regularly on his blog, Debtwatch www.debtdeflation.com/blogs. He has asserted a need for change in economic theory, exposing the fundamental flaws of conventional methodology in the last edition of his book, Debunking economics.
Steve Keen's presentation (forthcoming)
Steve Keen's seminar audio (MP3 file, 13.8 MB)
Home-based early childhood development interventions for pre-school children from socially disadvantaged families: do they work?
Tony Barnett, Acting Senior Manager, Early Years and Community, Research and Policy Centre, Brotherhood of St Laurence
19 April 2012
Policy makers in many countries over the last decade have invested increasing amounts in early childhood development interventions. But what evidence is there that home-based child development programs work? This presentation reviews the evidence base and reports on the national evaluation of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY), as it was rolled out in Australia to 50 disadvantaged communities. HIPPY is a two-year community-based program that supports parents in their role as their child’s first teacher. We describe the quasi-experimental methodology and present the evaluation findings about the HIPPY program’s impact on child school readiness, parenting style, home learning environment and parental social inclusion.
Tony Barnett holds a MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention, Oxford and a Master of Social Policy, University of Melbourne, where he is also an Honorary Research Fellow.
Tony Barnett's seminar presentation (PDF file, 1 MB)
Investing in our future: an evaluation of the national rollout of HIPPY report
(PDF file, 1.7 MB)
The rise and fall of public housing in Australia
Professor Patrick Troy AO, Visiting Fellow, Australian National University
12 April 2012
Commonwealth Government engagement in housing was very limited until the war of 1939–45 when the conditions were ripe for its leadership. Reviewing the nation’s social security system, Parliament concluded that housing was important in achieving a fairer society. The Commonwealth Housing Commission (CHC) in the letter of transmittal accompanying its final report said, 'We consider that a dwelling of good standard and equipment is not only the need but the right of every citizen – whether the dwelling is to be rented or purchased, no tenant or purchaser should be exploited for excessive profit' (Emphasis in original; CHC 25 August 1944). The CHC statement summarised the aspirations that had energised housing reformers as they responded to the privations of the previous half-century. The Commonwealth’s development of a public housing program was seen as a way of giving effect to the CHC’s assertion. This paper charts the departure from that lofty ambition since 1945, revealed as a series of episodes around the periodic Commonwealth State Housing Agreements from 1945 to 2000.
Professor Patrick N Troy AO, FASSA, is Emeritus Professor and Visiting Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU, Visiting Professor City Futures Research Centre, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Adjunct Professor, School of Environmental Planning, Griffith University, and author, co-author or editor of 15 books on infrastructure, housing, urban planning. Forthcoming title: Accommodating Australians: Commonwealth Government involvement in housing.
Patrick Troy's seminar paper (PDF file, 999 KB)
Patrick Troy's seminar audio (MP3 file, 12.6 MB)
Social inclusion and integrated service delivery
Dr Nadine Cameron, Barr Research Fellow Early Years and Social Inclusion, Research and Policy Centre, Brotherhood of St Laurence and University of Melbourne
5 April 2012
The frequent pairing, within government and academic literature, of references to integrated service delivery and ‘social inclusion’ encourages the presumption that integrated services necessarily support socially inclusive outcomes. In fact, integrated service systems vary widely in their capacity to even engage marginalised families. Achieving social inclusion requires that a service is explicitly based on social inclusion principles. This presentation discusses the distinctive characteristics a socially inclusive integrated child and family service might have.
Dr Nadine Cameron is the Barr Research Fellow in Early Years Social Inclusion, a joint University of Melbourne and Brotherhood of St Laurence position.
Nadine Cameron's presentation (PDF file, 615 KB)
Nadine Cameron's seminar audio (MP3 file, 12.5 MB)
Cities for everyone
Jane-Frances Kelly, Program Director, Cities, Grattan Institute
29 March 2012
In contrast with the narrow focus of international ‘liveability’ rankings, the Grattan Cities Program argues that cities have to respond to the material and psychological needs of all their residents. Taking this lens, the challenges facing Australia’s cities can look quite different from common myths and assumptions. From housing and transport policy to the importance of social connection, this seminar will look at the wide range of things that our growing cities will have to do well, for everyone.
Jane-Frances Kelly set up Grattan’s Cities Program after a diverse career in the public, private and non-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Jane-Frances Kelly's presentation (PDF file, 1.17 MB)
Jane-Frances Kelly's seminar audio (MP3 file, 5.32 MB)
Does workplace age discrimination exist? New data from a survey of the Australian workforce
Professor Philip Taylor, School of Business and Economics, Monash University, Gippsland campus
22 March 2012
Monash University together with Sydney University and Swinburne University of Technology have recently completed a national survey of 3200 Australians in paid work. The survey explored perceptions of 'everyday discrimination'. In this seminar Philip Taylor will report on the incidence of reports of everyday discrimination by age and consider implications for the public discourse on age discrimination in the labour market.
Professor Philip Taylor joined Monash University, Australia in 2010 as Director of Research and Graduate Studies at its Gippsland campus. Prior to this he was Professor of Employment Policy at Swinburne University of Technology where he was Director of the Business, Work and Ageing Centre for Research.
Philip Taylor's presentation (PDF file, 222 KB)
Philip Taylor's seminar audio (MP3 file, 11.7 MB)
The Early Years Study 3: investing in early childhood education
Professor Jane Bertrand, Program Director, Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation, Canada, and Visiting Fellow, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital
15 March 2012
The third edition of the Early Years Study (McCain, Mustard & McCuaig 2011) documents the social, economic and scientific rationale for investing in early childhood education and recommends that all children be entitled to an early education from age two. New to this edition is the Early Childhood Education Index 2011, which improves understanding of quality, access, financing and policy of early education programming across Canada.
Jane Bertrand's presentation (PDF file, 843 KB)
Jane Bertrand's seminar audio (MP3 file, 34.4 MB)
Demography is not destiny
The Hon Susan Ryan AO, Age Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
8 March 2012
Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan will speak about discrimination on the basis of age in employment and her role in addressing this issue. She will look at the demographic and economic drivers which mean that people need to work longer, and the systemic attitudinal and policy problems which prevent them from doing so. She will draw attention to the national economic potential of extending the working life of those who wish to continue as well as the benefits to individuals.
Susan Ryan was appointed as Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner in July 2011. From 1975 to 1988, Susan was Senator for the ACT, serving in the Hawke Labor government as Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women and Special Minister of State. She pioneered anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation, including the landmark Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Affirmative Action Act 1986.
Susan Ryan's seminar audio (MP3 file, 10.3 MB)
The ethnic penalty in the labour market: potential causes and policy options
Dr Reza Hasmath, Lecturer, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne
1 March 2012
This seminar looks at contemporary ethnic minority experiences in the labour market by describing the ‘ethnic penalty’ that emerges when analysing the relationship between the educational and occupational levels of ethnic minority members. While, intuitively, overt discrimination insofar as one’s physical appearance or linguistic abilities, and first generation immigrant status, are often cited as prevailing reasons to explain the ‘ethnic penalty’, factors such as an individual’s social network, a firm’s working culture and social trust in a community are equally important. Moreover, the seminar will consider policy options to alleviate the ‘ethnic penalty’ by examining best practice internationally.
Reza Hasmath (PhD, Cambridge) is the author of 'The Ethnic Penalty: Immigration, Education and the Labour Market', and 'A Comparative Study of Minority Development in China and Canada'; and has edited the collections 'The Chinese Corporatist State: Adaptation, Survival and Resistance', 'China in an Era of Transition: Understanding Contemporary State and Society Actors' (with J. Hsu), and 'Managing Ethnic Diversity: Meanings and Practices from an International Perspective'.
Reza Hasmath's presentation (PDF file, 434 KB)
Reza Hasmath's seminar audio (MP3 file, 11.6 MB)