Experiences of Migrant Settlement Services as Competing Markets

By Pendo Mwaiteleke.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article looks at how the provision of Australia’s federally-funded migrant settlement programs is experienced by non-government providers within the migrant settlement sector under current competitive contractual arrangements. The study uses governmentality approach to discuss key shifts involved in reworking migrant settlement programs. It suggests that the state is engaged in efforts to align community providers and NGO activities with its broader economic objectives. In keeping with governmentality analytic, the study draws from authoritative official texts as source of primary data, enabling identification of techniques and practices of governance. It also utilises 20 interview responses from participants working within the sector. The findings highlight emerging shifts leading to fragmentation of casework activities, pre-emption of particular need assessments, provider-driven client responses, and growing levels of inflexibility and the demise of policy advocacy. I suggest throughout this discussion that underpinning these shifts are advanced liberal and neo-liberal techniques engaged in fostering this change. The study also suggests the shaky nature of justifications through which these reforms are facilitated. Thus, it proposes future social policy research pay closer attention to governmentality’s notion of techniques of rule, as a valuable tool in promoting the contestation agenda.

Keywords: Migrant Settlement, Refugees and Immigration, Human Services as Contestable Markets, Governmentality, Managerialism, Public Choice Theory, Neo-liberalism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.109-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 822.953KB).

Dr. Pendo Mwaiteleke

Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, PERTH, WA, Australia

Dr. Pendo Mwaiteleke is a Lecturer in Social Work & Social Policy at Curtin University where she has taught over the last 12 years. She holds degrees in Bachelor of Social Work (Curtin); Postgrad Soc Welfare (Curtin); MA in Public Policy (Murdoch) and PhD (Murdoch). She also has extensive practice experience in policy development, advocacy, community work, and case-management. She previously worked with government and the non-government sectors for 10 years prior to joining academia. Pendo is also the immediate past Women’s Chair for the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia. She is also a mother of twin girls.


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