Getting Welfare to Work began in 1998 with surveys of frontline staff working in the employment sector in Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Since 2008, we have continued to closely monitor reforms in Australia and internationally through what is now the world’s largest and longest running comparative study of employment services delivery.

We have collected more than 20 years of data on frontline practice and the impacts of welfare reforms on services delivery, across multiple countries. We have built on this core body of research over subsequent Australian Research Council Linkage projects with additional interview and case-study based research on:

  • The practices of high performing agencies in supporting more disadvantaged jobseekers into sustained employment
  • Mission drift among not-for-profit organisations.
  • Ongoing standardisation and routinisation at the frontline.

Reform is continuing, with the government now refocusing on improving services delivery through better use of technology. It will embark on another major experiment in welfare-to-work reform, moving to a ‘digital first’ system in which most jobseekers will ‘self-service’ online in 2022. As part of our most recent Australian Research Council Linkage project we are researching these changes, and whether digital delivery can genuinely improve frontline services and system governance.