Social Inclusion in Australia: Resource Allocation, Morality and Racism

By Lou Wilson.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the ‘social inclusion’ policies of the new Australian Labor Government. While modelled on the policies of UK Labour, the Australian Labor Government has also continued and expanded social policies of its conservative predecessor. Among the most controversial of these policies is the so called Intervention into Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory, which has involved the quarantining of income payments to targeted Indigenous communities under the rubric of addressing child abuse. The Intervention has involved the partial suspension of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act. Successive Australian governments on both the right and the left have long shown a preference for targeting resources at ‘problem groups’ deemed irresponsible because of behaviour offensive to middle class morality. But Australian social policies have now begun to target people deemed irresponsible because of their race. It is argued that social policy in Australia today might be understood as a process of moral redemption with racist undertones. Targeted groups are held to be responsible for their own disadvantage and subjected to punitive income management programs to modify their behavior. Addressing the alleged moral failings of target groups identified by behaviour and race works to divert Australian policy makers from addressing structural disadvantage. This argument is illustrated with reference to case studies of Australian social policy.

Keywords: Australia, Social Inclusion, Exclusion, Morality, Racism

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.165-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.143MB).

Dr. Lou Wilson

Lecturer in Urban & Regional Planning (Social Planning), School of Natural and Built Environment, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

I am a sociologist at the University of South Australia. I have research interests in sustainable communities, social inclusion/exclusion, social cohesion and social capital. I am currently working on a project that seeks to assess the effectiveness of public expenditure in reducing social exclusion. It seeks to develop innovative new forms of quantitative modelling using geographical information systems (GIS). I am also part of a research team that is developing a model to understand and address tensions between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of urban development and the implications for assessing sustainable development in urban areas.

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