Reclaiming social security for a just future: a principled approach to reform

Dina Bowman. Danielle Thornton and Shelley Mallett

The authors propose five principles to guide and underpin our social security system so that it contributes to a just, fair and compassionate society.

At a glance

Just how future-proof is Australia’s social security system?

Australia’s social security system was created in a different era – a time when a secure job and an affordable home were taken for granted. While it is efficient and progressive by world standards, it is no longer fit for purpose.

As Australia faces new challenges such as climate change, changes in employment and an ageing population we need a fit for purpose social security system. Building on examples from Australia’s past and from overseas, the authors propose five guiding principles for future decisions about social security.

Dive deeper

Our social security system is ill-equipped to respond to current and future technological, demographic, environmental and geopolitical challenges.

Social security should be understood as a resource ‘for all of us’. Life can be unpredictable. All of us could experience life events such as becoming disabled or experiencing bad health, becoming a carer to a child or partner or experiencing family violence leading to homelessness. We need a social security system to support us during these times.

This paper aims to start a wider conversation about how Australia can enable economic security for all, now and in the future.

Last updated on 28 January 2021