Community Services in a Changing Economic and Social Environment

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The Social Security Review is currently assessing the extent to which income support policies need to adjust to the changing economic, social and demographic circumstances faced by Australia. These changes have implications for all social welfare policies. Recognition of this led to the selection of the theme for the Conference whose proceedings are contained in this Report. The contributions to the Conference cover many of the important aspects of community services including their finance and provision, as well as issues relating to access, equity and, most important of all, effects on those groups to whom services are directed. The final session of the Conference was devoted to an open forum which gave participants a chance to express their own views on the papers and their experience of contemporary community services. On the question of the overall approach to community service provision, complete uniformity of provision was seen as neither possible nor desirable. Within the overall framework of policy directives and guidelines there was a necessity to accept a diversity of approaches. Some participants argued that while professionalisation of services meant a 'movement upwards', the tasks of service delivery in community services involved a 'movement downwards'. Many tasks in community services were menial, and professionals were not inclined, and often not able, to perform them. This brought in the issue of volunteers in community care, where and how they can be recruited, how they can be organised, and how they should be reimbursed for expenses incurred. Questions were also raised about the ever-present scarcity of resources in community services, from two different perspectives. On the one hand, community services entail a degree of commitment from service providers both professionals and volunteers - to the ethos of community service and to its value. On the other hand, the shift to community-based services seemed to be based on the belief (or hope) that they present a cheaper option than institution-based services. The former perspective can be fulfilled only if the latter was abandoned.
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Saunders, Peter
Jamrozik, Adam
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download Reports and Proceedings No 70.pdf 8.21 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
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