Buying and Selling the Poor

Inside Australia’s Privatised Welfare-to-Work Market

Siobhan O'Sullivan, Michael McGann, and Mark Considine

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Format: paperback
276 pages
ISBN: 9781743327869
Publication: 01 Dec 2021
Series: Public and Social Policy Series
Publisher: Sydney University Press

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Buying and Selling the Poor ventures behind the scenes of the multibillion-dollar welfare-to-work system, offering new insights into how Australia responds to unemployment and disadvantage. As the authors tell the story of four local employment offices, they paint a vivid picture of a critically important social service which many people are aware of but which few properly understand. They also reveal the wider impacts that processes of marketisation and welfare reform have had on these frontline services over decades, and how the work of frontline staff and service providers has been transformed.

Buying and Selling the Poor looks closely at how these services operate, why some succeed where others fail, and what can be learned from the stories of staff and clients who have navigated the system. Three decades into this market experiment, how well are we doing in supporting our most vulnerable citizens to get back to work?

Mark Considine is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Studies, University of Melbourne.

Michael McGann is Research Fellow in the Social Sciences Institute at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He specialises in the sociology of unemployment and the governance of activation, with a particular focus on the marketisation of public employment services.

Siobhan O’Sullivan is a public policy scholar based at UNSW in Sydney. She has studied welfare-to-work in Australia, the UK and elsewhere, over many years.

Preface: On History, Poverty, and the Continuous Quest for Reform

1. The Politics of Managing the Poor
2. Thinking Inside the Box
3. Wilmore, the Heart of Australian Suburbia
4. ‘Welcome’ to Westgate
5. ‘Downtown’ Crompton
6. The Casual Cove
Conclusion: Success and the Significance of Difference

Glossary of Key Terms
Works Cited

"Buying and Selling the Poor looks at the failings of a system where the misery of unemployment fattens bottom lines. A system where penalties are handed out to jobseekers for minor infractions, while privatised employment services routinely fail to reach targets."
Public Service Association of NSW   Red Tape

"This revealing, often heart-wrenching work will prove enlightening for not only those within the policy field, but also anyone with an interest in or experience dealing with a system that often feels like a race to the bottom."
Kim Thomson   Books + Publishing

Format: paperback
Size: 210 × 148 × 17 mm
276 pages
Copyright: © 2021
ISBN: 9781743327869
Publication: 01 Dec 2021
Series: Public and Social Policy Series