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Title: Australian social work in the twenty-first century: Workforce trends, challenges and opportunities
Contributor(s): Lonne, Bob (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2016
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Abstract: The Australian community services, as in other countries, have undergone rapid and profound change since the 1980s, with transformation of the sector at the organizational, practice and labour force levels. As a result of the increasing domination of neo-liberal ideologies and the impacts of globalization, the role and nature of government altered, as did the broad mandate of social welfare, often through the increased use of market-based policies (McDonald 2006). In what has become known as the human services, significant modifications occurred to the ways in which programmes and services were configured, structured and delivered. New Public Management (NPM - usually termed managerialism) arrived with its associated programme management approaches and an attendant impact on professional practice, often via case management (Lonne et al. 2009). As a traditional professional group charged with delivering community and social services, social work has also altered, with faith in professional wisdom and discretion increasingly supplanted by reliance on highly bureaucratic and interventionist NPM approaches to management (Yeatman etal. 2009). Because this chapter deals with similar problems to those being experienced elsewhere, despite contextual differences, in many senses Australia can be used as a case study for international events. In this chapter I describe these significant change processes and the underpinning ideological and policy drivers. In particular, I focus on the current directions for the profession with respect to altered social functions, practice roles and approaches to work, and then examine a range of workforce sector data trends, such as labour force diversification, rapid sector growth, and the relatively modest increases in the social work labour force. The major shortage of social workers is explored, along with problems faced in recruiting appropriately qualified staff, including international migration of social work practitioners and ensuring a sustainable sector labour force. The implications for curriculum development and social work education are outlined, along with the need to promote ethical practice and compassionate approaches to addressing social exclusion and human rights.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Social Work in a Global Context: Issues and challenges, p. 268-286
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: Abingdon, United Kingdom
ISBN: 9780415536073
Field of Research (FOR): 111708 Health and Community Services
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Series Name: Routledge Advances in Social Work
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter
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