The developing workfare policy in Australia: A critical assessment

John Burgess, William F. Mitchell, Duncan J. O'Brien, Martin J. Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the origins, application and implication of work for unemployment benefit programs in Australia. Such programs have evolved in Canada, USA, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand over the past decade. The reasons for the development of such programs and the nature of the programs in Australia are outlined. The schemes operating in Australia are then critically examined in terms of a range of criteria including human rights and their ability to generate successful transitions into full-time employment. There are wider labour market issues to explore. Namely whether workfare programs are purely a means of enforcing reciprocal obligations upon the unemployed or whether they do generate market skills that improve the chances of transition from unemployment into employment. In this context the nature, access, duration and post-program experience of the workfare programs in Australia will be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Mutual obligation
  • Unemployment
  • Work for the dole
  • Workfare


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