How does Australia’s current welfare system either contribute or detract from its goal of being/becoming an ethical society?
Eva Cox (2014) claims that “visible social fractures” now exist that question Australia’s ability to continue calling itself an egalitarian state. While it is true that as a statistical measure of GDP, Australia’s current welfare system is one of the world most efficient, the cost of this provides a fundamental flaw in any step forward on Australia’s behalf on becoming or maintaining its position as an ethical society. It is no longer easily discernable who has and who has not benefited from Australia’s last two decades of growth. Although traditionally maintaining a weak belief in the right to welfare support, and as Marston et.al. (2005) relate, the act of “having a job is not only a necessity to provide the means of existence but it is also of prime importance for self-esteem, social identity and status”, many of those who have come to rely upon it feel that society has failed them. Long having customarily borne the brunt of discrimination, many of these individuals have gradually become redefined as being the problem. This holds a stark resemblance to the notations presented Murphy (2011) who also wrote, in the same article that: “Any system of welfare support encodes values and ideas about who is entitled to what, about what conditions should be attached to this support, and about what sort of society we want to live in.”
Recent budgetary alterations under the Abbot government, while seemingly appear to occur within parameters determined by his personal commission, continue to present punitive views toward any form of payments, as social emphasis has been further displaced by economic growth. Such views note that the levying of increased taxes provides the only adequate solution while simultaneously little consideration is observed toward concession reductions aimed at the wealthy. Problems of increased inequality appear rampant and are presumably the result of long term neglect of social policies of not just the current, but also previous recent governmental bodies. This Cox (2014) remarks “clearly articulate[s] the gradual and now almost complete demise of the implicit social contract”. She claims that such actions undertaken by the government “undermin[es] the idea of a universal health service” and that the “proposing universal co-payments and decreasing the value of base pensions and the minimum wage all add up to a serious attack on the public role of the state” (Cox 2014) and are actions that seriously detract from any goals of becoming an ethical society.
The degradation of Australia’s current welfare system society has moved toward an immoral standpoint where, under the continuance of increased financial and service related hardship, targeted on the lower socio-economic population, the preexistent gap continues to widen between the have and have not’s. Australians like many others now appear to reluctantly live in an economy rather than a community, a world without citizens in favor of consumers, and while speculations seek to relocate the median, it is no longer an issue that revolves around the population, but how figures add up on paper.
Cox, E. 2014. The state of Australia: welfare and inequality, The conversation, From: http://theconversation.com/the-state-of-australia-welfare-and-inequality-26037
Marston, G., Larsen, J.E. and McDonald, C. 2005. The Active Subjects of Welfare Reform: a Street-Level Comparison of Employment Services in Australia and Denmark, Social Work and Society International Online Journal, From: http://www.socwork.net/sws/article/view/195/482
Murphy, J, Murray, S, Chalmers, J, Martin, S & Marston, G. 2011, Half a citizen: life on welfare in Australia, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, pp. 1-21.