Brotherhood Comment November 2004

Brotherhood Comment November 2004


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ISSN 1320 8632A REGULAR UPDATE FROM SOCIAL ACTION AND RESEARCHNovember 2004Reading the signsProspects for social investment2004 will be remembered as an aberration, or a mere lapse into Certainly the election showed the the year of decisive election fiscal irresponsibility as many have importance of an approach to victory of the returning Howard said. We think these sorts of social social policy which makes sense Government. But what will it mean investment in infrastructure may in economic terms. Interest rates for Australian social policy? Here well point the way towards a new were undoubtedly a factor raising the implications of the victory social policy future for Australia. the issue of credibility of economic are less clear. After a campaign in management. Australians clearly which all parties made unparallelled We think this because these sorts have a deeply ingrained fear of commitments in the social policy of new social commitments reflect social promises which might arena, many have interpreted the a larger global trend. We have undermine economic strength. election result in terms of people tried to capture this trend in the voting for themselves. We believe notion of a shift from a welfare Here, the social investment state that judgment is too simplistic. state to a social investment state. reveals an emerging integration of As Perkins, Nelms and Smyth social with economic policy. Fiona We should not forget that this was (2004) have shown, ...



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ISSN13208632 November2004
Readingthesigns Prospectsforsocialinvestment 2004 will be remembered as an aberration, or a mere lapse into Certainly the election showed the the year of decisive election fiscal irresponsibility as many have importance of an approach to victory of the returning Howard said. We think these sorts of social social policy which makes sense Government. But what will it mean investment in infrastructure may in economic terms. Interest rates for Australian social policy? Here well point the way towards a new were undoubtedly a factor raising the implications of the victory social policy future for Australia. the issue of credibility of economic are less clear. After a campaign in management. Australians clearly which all parties made unparallelled We think this because these sorts have a deeply ingrained fear of commitments in the social policy of new social commitments reflect social promises which might arena, many have interpreted the a larger global trend. We have undermine economic strength. election result in terms of people tried to ca ture nd in the  voting for themselves. We believe notion of ap shift tfhrios mtr ea welfare Here, the social investment state that judgment is too simplistic. state to a social investment state. reveals an emerging integration of A s Nelms social with economic policy. Fiona We should not forget that this was 2s0 P0e4rkin, and Smyth indeed a social policy campaign, () haveo nssheown, theruen ids  tahne  Stanleys invaluable campaigning on as we had hoped it would be. neemeedr gfionr g ac reinvnesstusm eanrto in capacity-cthhiel dnheeodo df oyre ianrvs eisst emxeentm ipnl atrhy.e  eOafr ly No doubt the parties were responding to evidence of changing ebnuailbdlien agl ls eirnvdiicveisd uwahlis cah nwd iflla miliescsoucuhrs se,p ewned idnog  snoolte lwy abnetc taou sjeu sitti fy expectations in the electorate. It certainly seemed to mesh with the tboe npearttsi coifp aAteu satnradl isahsa reec ionn tohmei c cweirltl aipnalyy  ohfefl ipns  tdhoel lcara stee rifm sw; e bkunt oitw  ANU opinion polling showing majority preferences for quality resurgence. This is not to negate that investments in the infant years, social services over tax cuts (Wilson tfhuen cntieoedn sf oorf  tah ew relefdairstribauteti, vbe ut to iann ds cshoo foolirnthg,  winil la ppapry eonftfi ceships & Breusch 2004). e st argue that redistribution has to be economically as much as socially. Nor should we forget the troe ftrhaem uedn dion uab twead ya swphiicthi ocnosn noef catlsl  cIta fnu srthhoewr  hheolpws  mthuec hc atshee  wfahielnu rew e very significant social policy ra commitments made by the Ahuasrter ailni atnhse  tboe cnoenttrsi bofu tper toos paenridt y. twoi llm caokset  suus cdh oswocni atlh ie ntvreasctkm.ent Howard Government. There s will be an increase in the rebate Continued next page for the scheduled fee in order to increase bulk billing by doctors. There will be a one billion dollar Contents investment for infrastructure in our schools, both public and Buildingonourstre ngths:ResearchandservicesintegrationatBSL 4–5 private. There will be important SaverPlus:  Anexperimentinmatchedsavings 6 new commitments to vocational training, including especially the Wideninghorizons: Trainingparentsincareer and transitionsupport 7 extension of the Youth Allowance Investinginqualityagedcare:Under standingsocialaswella sphysica lnee ds 8 to trainees. This list could go on. Refugeesandsoci alexclusion 9 Our view at the Brotherhood of Involvingandengagingciti zens: The Doveton&Eume mmerringNeighborhoodRe newalprogram 10 St Laurence is that the social policy n rch promises from all parties at the last SLpeearankiinngguopn:tThreajnosbl:aSttiungdreensteplaccehimnteonatsd,vocalearnigandresea1121 election are unlikely to have been ar cy Employingyou ngworkers:Whatdoweneed tolearn? 13
Readingthesigns Prospectsforsocialinvestment from page 1 The investment paradigm, then, conundrum of particular force is allows us to break through the whether it is possible to encourage prejudice that economic dynamism simultaneously ‘aspirational’ is somehow incompatible with individuals and also a common good. fairness and equality. No one can be certain at this In terms of future social policy, point whether the 2004 election a great imponderable remains the result marks a new beginning in extent to which Australians do or Australian social policy. At the do not want greater solidarity. At Brotherhood we welcome the the Brotherhood we are privy to Howard Government’s new social many public gatherings and policy commitments and would meetings where people express their like to see them as a sign of a opinions on this matter. Here the turn towards a new social policy election appears to have sparked paradigm based on investment some considerable national soul and having all Australians sharing searching. Are our values changing? in the benefits of economic Are Australians becoming more or development. Just how this unfolds less generous? Some complain of will depend as much as anything ‘affluenza’, others of lack of on the sets of dominant values income, still others of loneliness which emerge from our current and social isolation. A moral round of national soul-searching.
Researchandpublicationsonline Keep track of the Brotherhood’s Consult current research projects grouped current and under our three key themes: back issues Brotherhoo • Creating sustainable economies Comment  • Ending poverty through an (PDF files). inclusive society • Social governance and Catch democratic processes up with Changing P Search the on-line database 8-page bulletins produced to of Brotherhood publications. document the impact of increased Many recent publications can be costs and reduced services on downloaded as PDF files. people on low incomes.
Brotherhood Comment is published three times a year by the Social Action and Research Division of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The Brotherhood of St Laurence works for the well-being of Australians on low incomes to improve their economic, social and personal circumstances. It does this by providing a wide range of services and activities for families, the unemployed and the aged. It also researches the causes of poverty, undertakes community education and lobbies government for a better deal for people on low incomes.
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Paul Smyth (03) 9483 1177 References Perkins, D, Nelms, L & Smyth, P 2004 (in press), After neo-liberalism: the social investment state?, Social Policy Working Paper, Brotherhood of St Laurence and Centre for Public Policy. WiIson, S & Breusch, T, ‘After the tax revolt: Why Medicare matters more to middle Australia than lower taxes’, Australian Journal of Social Issues , vol. 39, no.2, pp.99–116.
Brotherhood of St Laurence Annual General Meeting Tuesday 23 November 6.30 – 8.30 pm at Dallas Brooks Convention Centre 300 Albert Street, East Melbourne A light supper and beverages will be served afterward. RSVP (for catering purposes) to <>.
Published in November 2004 by Brotherhood of St Laurence 67 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065 Australia ABN 24 603 467 024 Telephone: (03) 9483 1183 Facsimile: (03) 9417 2691 E-mail:
After almost twelve months at there were just 10 print articles the BSL, two things stand out in and 3 broadcast interviews. a great year for Social Research and Action at the Brotherhood Having such an effective campaign of St Laurence. The first is SAR’s capacity is obviously terrific for involvement in an impressive BSL the organisation but is particularly federal election campaign. The good for the research team. second has been our upgrading Knowing that your research output of our research interface with the will see the light of day and at the services areas of the organisation, right political moment is a great driven by the conviction that incentive. A notable initiative was advocacy and services thrive best the promotion of Stephen Ziguras when they are well integrated. to the position of Social Policy Coordinator. Besides his vital media The BSL in fact provides a more role as an advocate, Stephen also or less unique site for social collated our research on policy policy research in Australia. There issues into a ‘Call to the Parties’ are many social policy research and then into an analysis of the centres around Australia, but parties’ policies. The ‘Call to the what is different about SAR is Parties’ document was downloaded its location within a major non- 650 times, and the analysis of the government service provider. parties’ policies 726 times. Equally This fosters a research agenda energetic and no less significant which is both closely attuned was the lobbying of key players to the political process and also and here there were numerous relevant to the needs of those we meetings and interventions. exist to serve. Our advocacy gains power and legitimacy when it is Now that the election is over, grounded in the experience of we are carrying out a detailed our services. Our services thrive evaluation. Our determination when they reflect research which is to maintain the campaigning is at the cutting edge of policy momentum and in this issue you and program development. will find Stephen’s reflection on doing advocacy at the BSL. Campaigning highlights Translating our research and Services research services experience into the election The other big initiative in 2004 has campaign was the work of our been to set about embedding our remarkably effective BSL media and research work in the experience communications team. The ‘Vote of our services. We have set for Someone Else’ posters which up a Services Research Unit, appeared all around Melbourne and coordinated by Janet Stanley. The the dynamic web page ‘Advance aim is to build a research culture Australia Fairly’ had great impact. across the organisation. Services In the first week of the campaign, groups meet with SAR researchers the web site had 30,408 hits; by to develop a strategic research the election it had 113,429. In agenda which not only captures terms of media, there were 99 the program development interests print articles and 21 broadcast of service providers but also interviews. The significance of this sets the service experience in the engagement might be gauged by context of social trends and policy comparison with the same period debates. Exemplary achievements in the previous year—admittedly so far have been in the areas of not an election period—in which employment services, refugees and
early childhood. In this issue Janet outlines her approach to this task. Also in this issue In the broad area of social investment, this Comment includes interim evaluations of two services initiatives: the Saver Plus matched savings program, winner of the Prime Minister’s Victorian Large Business Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships, which offers an incentive for low-income families to save to meet education expenses, in partnership with ANZ; and the Parents as Career Transition Supports (PACTS) program equipping parents to help students make employment and training choices. On the theme of social exclusion, Janet Taylor outlines her recent research concerning refugees and social exclusion, undertaken in association with the BSL’s Ecumenical Migration Centre, and documented more fully in Migration Action . Sandra Hills indicates priority areas in aged care research and policy development. On social governance, Janet Stanley provides an update of the neighbourhood renewal project in Doveton-Eumemmering, as an example of community capacity building. The BSL is an extraordinarily dynamic, diverse organisation filled with creative people with a critical edge to their work. We look forward to building on these strengths as we develop future plans. Paul Smyth (03) 9483 1177
Thelocationof SARwithinamajor non-government serviceprovider fostersaresearch agendawhich isbothclosely attunedtothe politicalprocess andalsorelevant totheneedsof thoseweexist toserve.

November2004  3
Buildingonourstrengths ResearchandservicesintegrationatBSL As an organisation which places demonstration anti-poverty project a high value on innovation, the which began in November 1972. Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) This project took a radical new often reflects on present practices, approach to service delivery, lessons from the past and new moving intervention away from information to explore different an individual counselling model ways to achieve better outcomes. to a process which empowered Recent review of our advocacy 60 families on a low income to and social action activities has improve their own social and resulted in a reinvigoration, led by economic conditions. The project a highly successful public campaign was grounded in the value position around the recent federal election. that structural change can occur when people on low incomes are A new area of focus is how empowered to become involved to strengthen organisational in decision-making processes. links between research and So past ‘clients’ became ‘staff’  practice, a major objective in anti-poverty programs: they outlined by Professor Paul were given power in relation to Smyth, General Manager of resource allocation, information, Social Action and Research, in and eventually decision-making. the strategic plan. This goal: Two researchers were employed for reflects the understanding that the life o valuation BSL research and advocacy is was basefd  tohne  aprn oajecctit.o nE research done best when it is grounded in our services experience. model where initial rudimentary (Brotherhood of St Laurence plans were tested and developed unpub., section 6.5, p.2). over a three-year period (Benn 1981). By the end of the second This objective is also supported year of the project, objectives were by Cath Scarth, General Manager being met for different families to of Community Services, who different degrees. Some individuals emphasises the importance of and families were gaining self-evidence-based practice, where confidence, learning the skills service intervention is based on of decision-making, taking back informed judgements leading power over their lives and involving to decisions and actions. themselves in the operation of the Centre. While these were significant Lessons from the past achievements, by the end of the The importance of the integration third year the researchers found that between research and services was the project’s objectives in relation highlighted for me a few weeks to engaging participants in social ago at our weekly lunchtime action were not being achieved and seminar, when we were privileged that an unforeseen consequence of to have as guest speakers David the project was the development of Scott (a past Brotherhood a difficult organisational structure. Executive Director), Professor Connie Benn (Co-ordinator of Whatever the project evaluation the Brotherhood’s Family Centre showed about service effectiveness Project (1972–75)) and Tim Gilley for the 60 families, the overall (a past Brotherhood Research and longer term impact of this and Policy Project Manager). innovative project was profound.  It led to a paradigm change in The seminar’s topic was the thinking and approaches to welfare BSL’s Family Centre Project, a service provision. It could be
argued that the critical ingredients were innovative practitioners who were continually informed by research, and the fact that both practice and research were grounded in a strong value base. A model for the future Representing the integration between services and research in a model is one way of understanding how this may work in practice (see Figure 1). Figure 1: Integration of services and research ServicesystemResearchsystem Public Academics PractitionersBSLresearchers

Betterservicesandsocialpolicy &astrongerbase forsocialaction

On the service side, a perspective or voice is formed by the interface between the public (community) and BSL service practitioners. On the research side, a voice arises from the interface between academic (theoretical) input and BSL researchers. It is the sharing of information and knowledge development from these two voices, where practice informs research and research informs practice, which can lead to more effective service and policy outcomes and a stronger social action base for those who are presently excluded from full participation in society. The form of the interface between services and research seems to fall into three broad categories or levels, all of which can be found in the early Family Centre model.
Itisthesharing ofinformation andknowledge developmentfrom thesetwovoices, wherepractice informsresearch andresearch informspractice, whichcanlead tomoreeffective serviceandpolicy outcomesanda strongersocial actionbase.
Firstly, at the ground level, this A strong theoretical framework interface can assist in understanding has been developed to guide BSL or evaluation of the effectiveness research, which is based around of the services provided and how the themes of social inclusion, these can be amended to improve sustainability and social governance. outcomes for the public. This level Partnerships have been formed, can be equated with understanding for example with the Centre the impact of service delivery on the for Social Policy at Melbourne 60 low-income families who were University, and with the Centre part of the Family Centre Project. for Ageing and Community Care Research, La Trobe University. The second, and very important, Cross-sector groups of practitioners, level is targeted at understanding managers and researchers operate the service delivery system design in the various fields covered by and how this can be improved the BSL, such as employment, to achieve better outcomes for community arts, early childhood the public. This level can be and older people. Other planned seen in the participatory and developments include training empowering processes adopted in evaluation, shared student by the Family Centre. This supervision and the establishment system design level includes of broad trend monitoring systems. institutional relationships and partnership models, and funding Innovation and values and contract arrangements, as The research and service integration well as internal BSL organisational at the Family Centre appeared designs for system delivery. to be wrapped around two other components. Firstly, the role of The final level relates to strategy innovation and creative thinking and policy. At the Family Centre was clearly critical. In the seminar the policy framework for the David Scott drew attention to this eradication of poverty was importance, quoting Donnison’s aimed at changing structural explanation of innovation: processes rather understanding the problem in terms of individual Ibnentowvation sdpitriionngsa lf raossmu tmhpet icoonllsi,s ion deficit. Thus, knowledge gained and cehean ntgriang realities btween from the impact of policy on e individu theory and pirnadc tcicaep ainb lae  corf epateirvceeliyv ing als can be used to inform irreverent m future policy development. how poorly conventional wisdom fits the evolving world. (Donnison BSL services are known for their 1978, in Scott 1981, p.77) innovative approaches and high-quality work. The development Secondly, the research and practice of this skill base has always been at the Family Centre were not informed by research, practice undertaken in a political and knowledge gained and transferred value vacuum where ‘hard facts’ through experience, knowledge- are divorced from their context sharing with peers, on-the-job (Marston & Watts 2003). All training such as student placements, claims about understanding social and networking with other conditions are based on sets of colleagues. However, this process assumptions which need to be can be facilitated through more clearly set out. The BSL’s broad formal and purposeful organisational values are clearly defined in the structures, some of which have organisation’s Vision Statement: been established this year. an inclusive, compassionate and
just society which challenges inequality, with responsibilities shared in connected communities and a focus on sustainability. The challenge is to work towards the eradication of poverty using the leverage of a strong organisation with strong service and research integration, a clear value base and an environment which fosters innovation. We can be inspired by the BSL’s recent history which so successfully implemented this process and left a legacy still being talked about today. Janet Stanley (03) 9483 1385 References Benn, C 1981, Attacking poverty through participation: A community approach , PIT Publishing, Bundoora, Vic. Brotherhood of St Laurence (unpublished), Strategic directions 2004–07, Social Action and Research. Marston, G & Watts, R 2003, ‘“Just the facts Ma’am”: A critical appraisal of evidence-based policy’, Just Policy , no.30, pp.32 46. Scott, D 1981, ‘Don’t mourn for me – organise…’: The social and political uses of voluntary organisations,  George Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
Cross-sector groupsof practitioners, managersand researchers operateinthe variousfields coveredbythe BSL,suchas employment , communityarts, earlychildhood andolderpeople.