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Improving the Government's Social Inclusion Agenda Policy

25 Mar 2010

The Federal Government recently launched a Social Inclusion Agenda to help reintegrate marginalised members of our society by amending its policies and programs in the area of social inclusion.

In NSW, the State Government has been implementing its own initiatives as part of this nationwide drive for increased social inclusion among disadvantaged communities, and a recent State Plan has set out specific and measurable concrete targets to determine the success of these initiatives.

But a new report produced by Sydney University, The University of Western Sydney and the Illawarra Forum proposes that the NSW Government's objectives have missed the mark in achieving their social inclusion goals.

The report, to be launched on Friday 26 March, argues that the NSW Government is neglecting the important role that locally-based community organisations play in creating a sense of belonging and hope for those in need.

It questions the current results-based accountability (RBA) framework used by the NSW Government in measuring the success of its social inclusion initiatives, because the RBA method of measurement does not include speaking to people from disenfranchised communities about their personal experiences.

The report argues that if the Government was instead conducting this kind of quantitative, experience-based research in measuring the results of their Social Inclusion Agenda, they would discover that locally-based community organisations play a vital role in assisting people with struggles over hardship, humiliation, inequality, inclusion, representation and redistribution.

Currently, at a local and regional level there is a lack of attention given to collecting statistical data about the contribution of locally-based community organisations in social inclusion, and so the NSW Government is ignoring a vital component in actioning social inclusion practises.
As the NSW social inclusion practices are largely replicated at a Federal level, the report suggest that the NSW Government's social inclusion failings should act as a test-case for the Federal Government's own Social Inclusion Agenda, and that both the RBA framework of measurement and role of locally-based community organisations in facilitating social inclusion need to be reconsidered.


Three of the writers of this report - Helen Backhouse, Lynne Keevers and Lesley Treleaven - are all available for interview about this important social policy issue.