Public Lecture from Professor Mark Considine- The Careless State: can it be fixed, where do we start?

15 Mar 2023

About the lecture: The current state of social services in Australia has been critically reviewed through a long list of royal commissions and public inquiries which suggest failures persist in the quality of social services available within our country. In this talk, Professor Mark Considine discussed his most recently published book 'The Careless State: Reforming Australia’s Social Services' in which he shows that the preferred model of reform has failed to deliver the social improvements touted.

The lecture focussed on the arrival of the ‘choice revolution’ as a cure for several public sector ills. Bi-partisan interest in having agents carry out service delivery and to hold the government role more firmly as ‘steering, not rowing’ – or ‘funding, not doing’ - created a new architecture for many core public services. This lecture looked at some of the cases and demonstrated how the core ideals of the new model were tested in practice. This included examination of the impact upon staffing and expertise, plus the re-bound effect upon the regulatory work of purchasing departments in Canberra and elsewhere.

Issues in relation to the contemporary challenges in the areas of childcare, aged care and NDIS where the choice model is proving difficult to steer and hard to sustain were also discussed.

The lecture concluded with an examination of positive cases of service delivery models that do not rest upon choice as their engine, or do so in a way that incorporates agents into a service model that is independently developed and verified.

Following the talk, Sue Cooke, Executive Director from Anglicare Southern Queensland joined Professor Considine for a Q&A.

Watch the lecture recording here:  

About the presenter: Mark Considine is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne. He is best known for prize-winning research on public sector reform, new methods of governance and the street-level delivery of public programs. He and his team have pioneered work on the long-run institutional impacts of different service delivery regimes. Mark has also had a significant career in leadership roles within higher education and as a contributor to policy innovation inside government and in civil society organisations.

Left to Right: Professor Greg Marston (CPF), Professor Tim Reddel (ISSR), Sue Cooke (Executive Director, Aglicare Southern Queensland), Professor Mark Considine (University of Melbourne), Professor Brian Head (POLSIS).

Mark Considine and Sue Cook in conversation