Australia is a prosperous nation. We are living healthier and longer. Our quality of life is the best it has ever been, but these benefits are not shared equally. Some Australians will encounter the social services system. Sometimes vulnerable groups struggle because of unintended consequences of government policy.
That is why we partner across our network and with universities on research to produce evidence about how things work. Our research informs better government policy and programs.
Entrenched disadvantage, family and domestic violence, and homelessness remain stubbornly resistant to change.
Evidence-based advocacy and research-based approaches can help our sector drive change through data to deliver better policy design and outcomes.
Read more about our research work below.
Mapping the Potential
Mapping the Potential research is driven directly by the local needs of Catholic social services Australia member organisations – seeking to address the underlying drivers of disadvantage in communities. Mapping the Potential has examined disadvantage using four drivers: education, economic, health and social factors. By mapping disadvantage through the lens of these four drivers we are able to understand where opportunities need creating so that communities might reach their full potential.
Mapping the Potential, is a partnership between Catholic Social Services Australia and, 21 of its members and the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research Methods. The research identifies locations of persistent disadvantage by suburb. However, to reduce the risk of suburbs being singled out, it reports by electorate. Mapping the Potential research discovers that in nearly every electorate in Australia there are people experiencing persistent disadvantage. Mapping the Potential draws on the experience of decades of Catholic social service in Australia and combined with academic research excellence provides the capacity for better service delivery decision making.
Mapping the Potential (MTP), is a partnership between Catholic Social Services Australia and 21 of its members, and the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research Methods.
Everyday Catholic social services across Australia work to build the capability and potential of our communities. Often capability and potential is held back by disadvantage. Mapping the Potential research looks at how Australian communities experience disadvantage differently and by understanding these differences, service providers, government and communities can work together to improve the lives of all Australians.
Our research investigates four drivers of disadvantage; economic, education, health and social and weighs each driver for relative influence. This approach allows for the assessment of each location’s level of disadvantage in each driver and for comparison to the average.
Social Policy Research Centre
New Budget Standards for Low-Paid and Unemployed Australians Report
On 23 August 2017 the UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) with support from Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA), the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and United Voice, published a research report that showed the Newstart Allowance received by people looking for work falls well below the minimum income required to achieve a basic standard of living.
The researchers built on previous Australian and recent international research to develop a set of budget standards i.e. how much money different family types needed to live decent life.
We hope this research will be used to inform debate and guide decisions about the adequacy of minimum wages and income support payments for the unemployed.
CSAA has been advocating since the last federal election for the establishment of an independent commission to advise government on the appropriate level of welfare payments to ensure people can have access to basic requirements.
Dropping off the Edge
A report commissioned by Catholic Social Services Australia and Jesuit Social Services
A small number of communities across Australia continue to experience disproportionately high levels of unemployment, low family income and education, housing stress, domestic violence and prison admissions. Such factors limit the life opportunities available to individuals and families, potentially locking them into lives of continuing poverty, with the further potential to endure on an intergenerational basis.
Dropping off the Edge 2015, commissioned by Catholic Social Services Australia and Jesuit Social Services, demonstrates that such disadvantage is not only significantly concentrated among these communities, but is entrenched and enduring, featuring interconnected barriers that inhibit the consistent efforts over many years of individuals and families to break free. Most of these communities are in regional Australia and communities with high Indigenous populations are amongst the most disadvantaged. The outer metropolitan areas of some of our capital cities are also “close to the edge”.
This structural inequity is something for which all Australians – governments, opposition, business and community leaders – must take responsibility, as the effort required to change the outcomes for these communities will rely on the sustained and cooperative efforts of all contributors over the long term.
Our Catholic social services network members are working in many of the communities identified in the report. We have the information, expertise, and most importantly the relationships and trust to work in partnership with local communities to bring about change.
The findings from Dropping off the Edge 2015 suggest that Australians experiencing disadvantage do not lack will power, ambition or a willingness to change their outcomes in life, but are held back by entrenched structural barriers that limit their opportunities in life, and the opportunities of their children. Catholic Social Services Australia wants to help change that.
- Prosser, B (2020) (ed). Spirituality, Leadership & Sustaining a Caring Workforce, Connor Court Publishing.
- Prosser, B & Butcher, J (2019). ‘Chapter 11: The Unfulfilled Potential of the Coalition’s Social Policy’, in M. Grattan (ed), From Turnbull to Morrison: the trust divide, MUP Academic Press.
- Prosser, B & Denniss, R (2018). Rethinking Governance, in Grattan, M (ed), The Knowledge Solution: politics. Melbourne University Press, p.24-27