IGPA Research Seminar Series

Getting Welfare to Work: 20 Years of Employment Services Privatisation in Australia

Thu 10 November 2016Dr Siobhan O'Sullivan / 4:00pm - 5:00pmThe Dryzek Room (22B13), Building 22, University of Canberra


For almost 10 years Siobhan O'Sullivan has worked with Prof. Mark Considine and Prof. Jenny Lewis to track the evolution of Australia's contracted employment services system. In this presentation Siobhan will outline their key Australian findings to date, including their analysis of standardisation in the sector, and the changing role of the not-for-profit agencies contracted to delivery job search services to the unemployed. She will then share some of their most recent data, collected in mid-2016. The 2016 data, collected by surveying more than 1,000 frontline employment services staff, confirms many of the trends already identified by their research. While the analysis is only preliminary, it also suggests that in relation to welfare-to-work the government still struggles to strongly influence practice at the frontline. By comparing the government's reform agenda against frontline employment services behaviour we find that in quite a few cases the government has been unable to realise its stated agenda. This suggests that policy making in relation to privatised social services remains challenging and that more work needs to be done in order to ensure that private companies implement the type of service the government intends to purchase. 


Dr. Siobhan O'Sullivan is senior lecturer in social policy at UNSW, Australia. She teaches research methods and public policy and is convenor of the Masters of Public Policy and Governance. Her research is focused on welfare-to-work and animal welfare. Her most recent book Getting Welfare to Work was published by Oxford University Press. She has also published extensively in journals including the Australia Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Social Policy and Environment Politics. She works closely with industry including the two Australian peak welfare-to-work agencies: the National Employment Services Association (NESA) and Jobs Australia (JA). She also produces her own fortnightly podcast called Knowing Animals in which she interviews Animal Studies academics from around the world about their research. 

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This event is free to attend and no registration is required. You are welcome to forward this invitation to any interested guests.

The IGPA Research Seminar Series is convened by Dr Paul Fawcett.

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