Journal Article

(Re) Shaping Social Work: An Australian Case Study

Catherine McDonald and Lesley Chenoweth

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 1, pages 144-160
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcm094
(Re) Shaping Social Work: An Australian Case Study

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Contemporary policy development via various nationally contingent processes of welfare reform poses significant challenges to social work. This paper explores the initial impact on one group of generalist social workers in working in the Australian income support agency—Centrelink. Positioning welfare reform within a theoretical framework of institutional change, the authors suggest that the associated policy developments have the capacity to seriously destabilize social work, particularly in that they promote values and rationalities at odds with those assumed by the profession. These assumptions are explored through exploratory empirical engagement with the Centrelink social workers, the results of which suggest that all social workers in those national contexts experiencing the same policy orientation have significant reason to be concerned.

Keywords: welfare reform; institutional change; the future of social work

Journal Article.  7232 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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