Half a Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia

Half a Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia


By (author) John Murphy, By (author) Suellen Murray, By (author) Jenny Chalmers, By (author) Sonia Martin, By (author) Greg Marston

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  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 231mm x 18mm | 481g
  • Publication date: 1 October 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Sydney
  • ISBN 10: 1742376053
  • ISBN 13: 9781742376059
  • Sales rank: 702,147

Product description

What is it really like to be unemployed and on welfare? How do you make ends meet? Does the welfare system actually help people get back into jobs? Half a Citizen draws on in-depth interviews with 150 welfare recipients to reveal people struggling to get by on a low income, the anxieties of balancing paid work with income support, and how unstable housing makes it difficult to get ahead. By investigating the lives beyond the statistics, Half a Citizen also explodes powerful myths and assumptions on which welfare policy is based. The majority of welfare recipients interviewed are very active, in paid work, caring for children or for other family members, and they see themselves as contributing and participating citizens, even if they sometimes feel they are being treated as 'half a citizen'. These stories of resilience and passion bear no resemblance to the cliched images of dependence, laziness, and social isolation which underpin social policy and media debate.

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Author information

John Murphy is associate professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. His most recent book is "A Decent Provision: Australian Welfare Policy, 1870 to 1949." Suellen Murray is associate professor in the Centre for Applied Social Research at RMIT University. Her most recent book, with John Murphy and others, is" After the Orphanage: Beyond the Children's Home." Jenny Chalmers is senior research vellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales. Sonia Martin is manager, Through School to Work in the Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence and honorary fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Greg Marston is associate professor in the School of Social Work and Human Services, The University of Queensland.

Review quote

'This important and illuminating book provides a powerful and harrowing depiction of the inadequacies of the Australian welfare system. Its findings challenge the foundations and direction of the welfare reform agenda.' - Prof. Peter Saunders, University of New South Wales. 'This major new study challenges many myths about life on welfare and in low paid work. It should be read by anyone concerned with welfare reform.' - Jane Millar, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bath.