Journal article

Using systems thinking to create more impactful social policy

5 Jan 2015

This article proposes that “systems thinking” offers a way of (a) diagnosing the potential effectiveness of social policy and (b) of creating more impactful social policy. In particular, Donella Meadows’ “twelve places to intervene” (Meadows 1999) have been used as the basis of creating a tool to this end. Meadows’ 12 places can be broadly grouped into three categories: (1) physical features, (2) information and controls and (3) ideas. Using these three categories, this article analyses a number of examples of social policy related to Indigenous disadvantage in Australia. The actions and goals of different policies are analysed via this tool, with a view to illuminating what could be expected by way of impact from these policy initiatives. The overall aim is to understand if systems thinking in particular, and foresight approaches in general, can be useful in contributing to more impactful, or at least more honest, social policy in the face of ever growing complexity.

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