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For several years, social care and the public sector have been a part of the global environment in several countries. Reforms are usually aided by a variety of political speeds, discourses, procedures, and justifications. The majority of social, literary works examine changes and their implications for social and economic inequality from the perspective of a single nation. Nonetheless, to improve international understanding of global neoliberal economic values, the growth of the research partnership and global perspectives is critical. The effects of neoliberalism on welfare provision in Australia, especially since the 1980s, are critically examined in this paper. The research issue will be discussed using the examples such as Indigenous policy, poverty, and unemployment, the elderly, will be used to examine the research question. First, it will demonstrate an understanding of neo-liberalism within the Australian context. Secondly, it will demonstrate the impact of neo-liberalism on the chosen policy area since 1980. Finally, it will demonstrate critical analysis in the argument.
Neo-liberalism within the Australian context
Over the past 30 years, many societies globally have experienced cultural, economic and political transformations. As a result, it has changed different communities through the enactment of less controlled forms of capitalism and organizational accountability in private and public sectors. This has enhanced the greater casualization and risk of individuals working in such organizations. Neo-liberalism can be defined as a political economic theory that states that the liberation of the entrepreneurial skills and freedom in an organization characterized by free trade, free markets, and private property rights helps to improve human welfare. The main purpose of a government is to establish and preserve an organizational framework that is essential to such kinds of practices. Neo-liberalism offers an essential plant in the economic policy of the government and their dedication to social welfare, social and human rights. It also encompasses the commitment of the government to the social worker’s responsibilities in protecting, promoting and implementing the policies. The creation of this type of neoliberal technique was mainly based on the objection to the policy guidelines that were established in the 1930s by John Keynes in the United Kingdom. The macro-economic concepts are targeted at the different ways of minimizing the impact and size of the government, promoting private enterprise and increasing deregulation. This was facilitated by the belief that diminishment of financial demands of a government is enhanced by the reduction in the responsibility of the government. Instead of reducing the poverty levels, it appears that it increases inequality levels in several countries around the globe (Beer, Kearins & Pieters, 2006).
Majority of the contemporary reforms conducted in Australia were greatly affected by the neoliberal paradigm. The neoliberal economic policies in Australia were established and enacted by the labor governments under the stewardship of Hawke between 1983 and 1991. The neo-liberalism ideologies have led to the conclusion that Australian government does not have efficiency whereas private markers are consumer-friendly and very expensive. Neo-liberalism stresses on the purpose of the uncontrolled markets as well as the state of minimal welfare with the government restricted in intervening in order to deal with the negative impacts of the market forces on social welfare of citizens. Contemporary researchers continue to put a lot of effort on studying different aspects of globalization trends such as its origins. Neo-liberalism widens the concept of rational competition and self-interest by Adam Smith. The concept was employed in different countries around the world over the past decades to govern. It had great impacts on the lives of people with disabilities whose rights were violated through discrimination. One of the principles of neo-liberalism is freedom; however, individuals with the disability did not enjoy such kinds of freedom in their societies. Within the contest of Australia, there are certain policy approaches that have been enacted as a result of neo-liberalism. Nevertheless, the policies have affected the adoption of the global disability rights since individuals living with disability have faced numerous challenges at workplaces (Girdwood, 2007).
Impact of Neo-liberalism on Welfare Policy on Disability since 1980
Australia has numerous policies for individuals living with disabilities. One of the policies is the 1992 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). DDA is a policy that protects individuals with disabilities against any form of discrimination. Whereas there are many benefits that have been associated with DDA, it is viewed not to have accomplished its main projected purpose in the employment sector. Neo-liberalism has a great impact on the social welfare policy in Australia. For instance, one of the essential features of the Australian social welfare policy is the involvement in its labor market as a way of gaining equal and full citizenship. Nevertheless, under Howard government, the social welfare reforms led to the enactment of the Welfare to Work Act of 2005. It is a policy that cemented a vital role of the labor workforce in Australia. Howard led a conservative government that targeted only two main neoliberal strategies in the social welfare reforms. One of the strategies was to increase levels of involvement in employment in order to reduce the social welfare dependency. The second strategy was to reduce the number of individuals getting income support allowances by limiting the eligibilities. The transformations in policy are very steady with the trends of neo-liberalism in the social welfare policy (Nihei, 2010).
Neo-liberalism tries to minimize the Australian government roles through the policies that optimize the roles of people. This is done by meeting the demands of people through their involvement in the labor market. Such kinds of policies indicate the ideological preferences that people have for the private restriction over the governmental spending. Neoliberal policy gained support during the time of great capital growth for numerous rich upper and middle-class individuals. During this period, majority poor individuals in Australia did not benefit from the capital growth however they were normally supported by the neoliberal policy reforms that were intended to help citizens to accomplish greater independence. The level of support can partially be described by the power differentials that existed between marginalized and state citizens. It is a type of rhetoric that might be specifically stigmatizing for several individuals who suffer from disabilities and are not able to take part in paid labor without any adequate economic support (Patel, 2009).
In addition, the most effective employment protection policy established in Australia is not adequate to deal with the level of discrimination in the labor market for individuals who suffer from disabilities. As a result of responding to the neoliberal policy changes in Australia, different social and non-governmental organizations that help individuals to get paid labor have also faced great structural changes that dispute their capability to offer help to the individuals with disabilities. Within any organization, contractors and service providers have a great responsibility to train individuals and help them attain maximum ability that would help them to earn additional income. Nevertheless, the non-governmental organizations normally compete for the scarce resources available in the society. Such kinds of trends normally affect many individuals with disabilities in Australia who use different employment services that depend on the demands of the employers of private sectors. There are instances in which people have complained about the reluctance of the various recruitment organizations to offer any help to them. This is a serious problem that affects many individuals with disabilities in Australia who need substantial support or additional income through the entire day of work. Besides, the continued changing structures of the employment systems of the disabled is a sign of the problematic changes towards a decline in government help for the welfare services. Nevertheless, there are restricted researches that examine the impact of such changes as well as their effects on the lives of individuals living with disabilities. In addition, the disability rights have not addressed the effects of neo-liberalism on disability policy designs and their impact on the transition of individuals with disabilities from the social welfare to work (Nihei, 2010).
Whereas the enactment of DDA, as well as other legislative reforms in Australia, has offered great steps to deal with issues of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, the rate of unemployment among individuals with disabilities has significantly remained high. Individuals with disabilities have actually continued to face barriers to involvement in numerous life domains. According to recent Australian government reports, the value of human rights-based policy has weakened due to deficiencies within the law. Within the social welfare policy, individuals with disabilities are supposed to be subjected to a job capacity evaluation in order to establish their eligibility for the different supplementary payment schemes. Various researchers have also established that inadequate program adoption and economic help present a serious challenge to making sure there is enough help for employment to individuals with disabilities (Gane, 2009).
In countries such as Britain, the problems experienced by individuals with disabilities have been reported. Private sectors have taken control on the different disability training schedules that the government supports to bring structural changes in a social, political and economic system. Inadequate employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities contribute to a high number of them being unemployed. Besides, the social work policy affects the levels of power between medical specialists and individuals with disabilities who normally act as gatekeepers in establishing the extent of benefits for the disabled individuals. The medical examiners might make certain treatment requirements that individuals with disabilities have to abide with so as to get benefits. This has turned to contradict the individual beliefs or objectives of the people involved. Based on the perspective of the United States, the theoretical evaluation of the rights and workforce is very scarce somewhat due to the fact that the framework of services and policy in America usually safeguard the isolated vocational services that might act as a barrier to individuals with disabilities entering the open labor market. However, the moral drives of the social welfare policy, where individuals with disabilities cannot work, are usually considered deficient in Australia. A comparative study offers extensive evidence that the stigmatic observation of individuals with disabilities within the workplace environments and the different structural barriers in enjoying such rights are usually common problems in many liberal countries. Lived experiences of individuals living with disabilities are essential gaps that exist on the enjoyment of social welfare rights in different societies. It is essential for such kinds of gaps to be addressed effectively so as to minimize the levels of discrimination experienced by individuals with disabilities in liberal countries (Nihei, 2010).
Neo-liberalism in Australia has also had a great impact on the employment services for individuals living with disabilities. The mutual mandate and neoliberal discourse in Australia mainly revolve around anticipations that the government and Australian citizens have a role to play in helping one another through employment and income benefits. Individuals with disabilities should, therefore, be active within the labor market instead of registering for income support programs existing in the country. Emphasizing on the activation and training of the personal skill will continue not to be effective for transferring individuals from income help to employment sectors provided that there are broad employment opportunities in the labor markets. The Australian government has unique programs to offer income help to individuals with disabilities, however, the recipient of such support has the task to get involved in the training programs and the labor market in Australia. This presents a serious challenge for individuals with disabilities who might face certain barriers in accomplishing their tasks in case the income support require them to take part in paid work. Therefore, for individuals with disabilities in Australia to have equal job opportunities in the market, it is vital for the government to acknowledge its role to establish a welfare policy platform that can help the reforms to prosper. For instance, it might create an environment that increases their involvement in the labor market while enhancing the rights of individuals living with disabilities (Favell, 2016).
The Australian government should be committed to the rights-based measure in a disability policy in order to ensure comprehensive integration of individuals with disabilities into its labor market. In addition, it should also commit its resources to enact policies to assist establish the practices and capacity in order to support, facilitate, and enhance training and education programs. The government intervention should focus on the process of transition for its benefits to work. Within the modern policy environment, it is essential to observe the various tasks that the government and private sectors have towards individuals with disabilities. This is attributed to the fact that their roles need to abide by the global human rights that would help them to advance their skills and not subjected to any form of discrimination. According to the cultural imperialist groups, they emphasized that their perspectives, experiences, and values are universal and normal hence it made the other groups not to be visible. Dominant groups should thus not take advantage of their superiority to subject individuals with disabilities to discrimination in the workplace environment. This will result in a united society where every individual’s rights are respected.
Beer, A., Kearins, B., & Pieters, H. (2006). Housing Affordability and Planning in Australia: The Challenge of Policy Under Neo-liberalism. Housing Studies, 22(1), 11-24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02673030601024572
Favell, A. (2016). Liberalism not Neo-Liberalism: Comment on Will Kymlicka’s article: “Solidarity in Diverse Societies”. Comparative Migration Studies, 4(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40878-016-0026-y
Gane, M. (2009). The Paradox of Neo-liberalism. Durkheimian Studies, 15(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ds.2009.150105
Girdwood, J. (2007). Reforming the World Bank: from social‐liberalism to neo‐liberalism. Comparative Education, 43(3), 413-431. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03050060701556372
Nihei, N. (2010). Reconsideration of the Problem of Complicity between Volunteering Activities and Neo-liberalism. International Journal Of Japanese Sociology, 19(1), 112-124. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6781.2010.01124.x
Patel, R. (2009). “We are all Commoners”, The Values of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy. Melbourne: Black Inc., pp.91-108.
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