Professor Mark Considine (pictured), author of The Careless State: Reforming Australia’s Social Services (MUP), will be a featured keynote speaker at CCA’s October conference. The Careless State details how Australian governments – of all political backgrounds – have faced rapidly increasing demand for services in areas like vocational education and training, employment assistance, aged care, childcare and disability services by introducing service markets, where private companies compete with public institutions and charities in newly constructed social services.
While market choice continues to drive reform across a wide spectrum of programs and social services, Professor Considine demonstrates that important aspects of the experiment with social service markets have failed, with weak quality control, systematic rorting and entrenched disadvantage becoming the norm. Private business interests and shareholders’ interest have often displaced established charities and commitment to quality care for all. He concludes that the service systems are “careless”, leaving clients to make choices without real information or protection. Considine points to reforms could be configured to get the best from both private and public agencies and find a new approach to save these failing services.
Comments on the book
“This is an accessible and sobering work of social policy analysis that is essential to understanding where we have gone wrong, and what we can do to restore the integrity and utility of essential social services in Australia.” – Emma Dawson
“In its elevation of choice and competition, Australia’s marketisation of social services has succeeded in lining the pockets of shareholders, enterprising politicians and their families, and a pack of shameless fraudsters. It has been less successful in delivering affordable and high-quality services, especially to the most vulnerable. Mark Considine’s stimulating account will leave many readers angry, but all of them better informed about what went wrong, what is working, and how social service provision might be made to serve both the public good and those it is meant to help.” – Frank Buongiorno
About Mark Considine
Mark Considine is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne. He is best known for prize-winning research on public sector reform, new methods of governance and the street-level delivery of public programs. He and his team have pioneered work on the long-run institutional impacts of different service delivery regimes. Mark has also had a significant career in leadership roles within higher education and as a contributor to policy innovation inside government and in civil society organisations.
“CCA looks forward to Professor Considine’s important contribution to the October Conference. His voice is clear and strong; so many aspects of the ‘marketisation’ of Australian social services, including VET, have failed to deliver on promises. The result: many disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers and learners, along with the not-for-profit organisations that serve them, have lost out. We need a strong way forward in this policy space, and Mark Considine’s guidance is powerful and compelling.” – Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO