By summarizing the social challenges in the contemporary Australian context, this article aims to discuss policy innovations by Australian social workers. Acknowledging that the concept of policy innovation is broad and sometimes ambiguous, it looks at four examples by social workers. Drawing on secondary data analysis, it discusses how social workers played an important role in introducing legislative changes/amendments to protect children in difficult circumstances, resisted a refugee policy that incarcerates innocent children, challenged and changed procedures and policies within an organization, and influenced policymakers to revert budgetary decisions to enhance access to services. These examples show the social workers’ commitment, passion, and vision and their experiences with policy innovation. Given the nature and extent of social challenges, this paper raises questions about the limited policy innovation by social workers. The analysis has significant implications for social workers’ obligation to contribute to policy innovation in their chosen area of practice.
This working paper was developed from a presentation given during Social Innovation and Engagement: Social Challenges, Policy Practice, and Professional Training of Social Workers, an April 2014 conference organized by the Center for Social Development and the Policy Forum at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, and by the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Project: Social Innovation Partnership
Pawar, M. (2014). Social challenges and policy innovations by social workers in Australia (CSD Working Paper No. 14-10). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.