This paper analyses the impact of the global financial crisis on Australia’s social services sector and discusses the implications of this for future policy responses.
The demand for social services is already rising and will rise substantially in the short-term. In many areas — examples include residential aged care, housing, homelessness and family relationship services — demand already outstrips the capacity of agencies to offer assistance. The services most immediately affected by deteriorating economic conditions are in employment, housing, financial and general counselling and emergency relief.
In addition to being the response of a genuinely civil society, high quality, social services are an integral part of a productive economy. Investment in such services is a benefit not just to those in such desperate need of services, but also reduces long term social costs and enhances the overall productivity of the economy. Investment in social services and social infrastructure should therefore be considered as an essential part of further fiscal stimulus measures.