Mutual Benefits: Developing Relational Service Approaches Within Centrelink

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Hall, Greg
Boddy, Jennifer
Chenoweth, Lesley
Davie, Katherine
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Christine Bigby

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2012
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Abstract

The machinery of income support can have considerable influence in people's lives, creating opportunities for social work but also tensions: access to vulnerable people, but not always on their terms. This paper argues that the challenge to social work is about more than holding on to professional discretion. It considers how social workers can influence service delivery approaches to work more relationally, pursuing a more equal involvement of clients, and recognising the complex interactive context of social and community life. The authors trace the development of such an approach within the Australian Government human services delivery agency Centrelink in Logan, Queensland, and briefly consider a parallel innovation in Newcastle, New South Wales. The authors suggest that grounding a large institutional social service agency in the realities of client and community experiences has mutual benefits, creating a more humanising, cooperative space, and displacing inefficient and sometimes tragic cycles of misunderstanding, confrontation, and disconnection.

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Australian Social Work

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65

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1

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© 2012 Taylor & Francis. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version.

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Specialist studies in education

Policy and administration

Social work

Counselling, wellbeing and community services

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