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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2012): Services for the disabled - overseas

Continuity or change? disability policy and the Rudd government

K. Soldatic and B. Pini

Social Policy and Society, vol. 11, 2012, p. 183-196

This article traces the evolution of disability policy in Australia from the early 1970s to the present. In particular, it explores the radical reconfiguration of disability policy under the Howard government (1997-2007), and the extent to which discursive and material continuities or changes can be identified in disability policy under the Rudd government (2007-10). While older discourses of paternalism and charity and their associated practices appear to have been superseded by those pertaining to rights and citizenship, and an emphasis on responsibility and obligation, this is not the case in reality. This article demonstrates the ways the altered vocabularies, practices and instruments of the state have manifested in relation to disability policy in Australia, ultimately shaping opportunities for either inclusion or exclusion at the national level among disabled people. The analysis reveals that, while there have been significant moments of discontinuity, there has also been subtle continuity over this time.

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