Women, Work and Welfare in the Activation State: an Agenda for Australian Research
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Welfare-to-work programs are now enduring features of Australia's labour market and social policy landscape. Over two decades, both Labor and Liberal governments have progressively tightened the conditionality of income support, extending principles of mutual obligation to new groups of working age recipients. This article is concerned with legislation that came into effect in 2006 requiring sole parents who receive income support to enter the labour market when their youngest children reach school age. This policy has practical implications for the character and dynamic of the labour market, and for caregiving, family wellbeing and women's autonomy. After outlining recent Australian reforms, we examine how comparable overseas reforms have impacted on the independence and wellbeing of vulnerable, low income women; and use emerging themes to outline an agenda to guide the next phase of Australian welfare to work research.