Podcast: A social insecurity system

08 March 2019

Why do so many welfare systems end up punishing people rather than helping them, or doing more harm than good? How do these policies affect the lives of those who depend on welfare services? And what can policymakers do to remedy the situation - could a universal basic income help? Our guests John Falzon, Bob Gregory, and Sue Olney explore these questions and more.

Our presenters Sharon Bessell and Martyn Pearce also talk about the Australian Labor Party’s recent election promises on making abortion safe for the country’s women, as well as taking a look at a few of the comments and questions you have left us over the last week.

This week’s panel consists of:

John Falzon is Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice at Per Capita. He is also a sociologist, poet, and social justice advocate, and was national CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society from 2006 to 2018. John’s current work focuses on social security reform, housing and homelessness, workers’ rights, and rebuilding the concept of the common good across society.

Bob Gregory is Emeritus Professor in the Research School of Economics at the Australian National University (ANU) and a former member of the Reserve Bank of Australia Board. His research has focused on economic development and growth, comparative economy systems, and welfare economics. He has a particular interest in wage inequality, international comparison of wages and employment, and unemployment.

Sue Olney is a Research Fellow in the Public Service Research Group in the School of Business at UNSW Canberra. Her work revolves around access and equity in employment, education, training, and disability services in Australia with particular focus on the impact of reform of public services on citizens with complex needs. Sue has experience on both sides of the process of outsourcing public services.

Our presenters for this week’s podcast are:

Sharon Bessell is the Director of the Children’s Policy Centre at Crawford School, and Editor of Policy Forum’s Poverty: In Focus section.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

Tanya Plibersek’s election promise on behalf of Labor to provide free abortions

Controversy around Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite

Australia’s Department of the Senate’s report on Jobactive

Australian Council of Social Service’s ‘Faces of Unemployment’ report

UN rapporteur Philip Alston’s comment on UK’s universal credit scheme

Australian Department of Social Services’ Review of Australia’s Welfare System

Joe Hockey’s comment on ‘lifters and leaners’

Fred Chaney’s criticism of Australia’s work for the dole scheme and its impact on Aboriginal communities

Podcast: Back to basics – Finland’s Universal Basic Income

Frances Flanagan’s work on the conceptualisation of work in society

Australian Treasury’s Intergenerational Report

Podcast: The policy and politics of refugees and asylum seekers

In defence of ‘Silent Invasion’ – Kevin Carrico

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Subscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

Download MP3 (38.5 MB)

Filed under:

Updated:  25 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team