The government seems determined to outsource many of its services on the grounds that the private sector, "not-for-profits" (which can be large organisations, most certainly profit driven), and church-based organisations can do it better.
All the public hears is PR on how great everything is.
Following is a short testimony from a staff member, working on the coal face, who is very unhappy about the changes.
The most valuable resource in these fields is experienced and dedicated staff. Many of them have worked happily for years in organisations with an underpinning philosophy which they agree with, only to find that all this is under attack now by neoliberal dogma.
When good staff leave, they take with them professionalism, the history of the organisation, and the intellectual knowledge of how the sector works in order to achieve the best outcomes. Often the staff that do stay on in the present political climate are forced to become desensitised in order to cope.
Staff should feel free to express to Management the levels of stress and frustration they feel when they are constantly dealing with people in crisis. In the story below, this has not been the case.
Neoliberal business-model thinking is often inappropriate when applied to the complex area of human services.
The following terms are found in so many documents: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Corporate Governance, Managerialism, "Business Intelligence" (BI), "Incentivisation" of clients, not to mention the "latest research" findings to be implemented on the next batch of unfortunate guinea-pig clients. These findings are often nothing new at all, and cyclical because every five years they come up with something else.
Whatever happened to common sense, compassion and genuine consultation?
So here is one worker's story which I've been told will surely strike a chord with many who work in the industry. I hope so, since one aim of this blog is to allow people's voices to be heard and to bring the human stories and perspectives into discussions on the housing crisis.
"I work for a church based service provider. We deal with homelessness and youth at risk. Management is always sucking up to DHHS - always after more funding - many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Now we are having to take on more and more difficult young people. I'm talking about very volatile, very damaged young people with severe behavioural problems. Suicide risk, violence, self-harming, drug abuse (especially Ice) - these are issues which staff have to deal with on a daily basis.
DHHS has to cover themselves, so there are heaps of boxes to tick - best practice, procedures, et al. But it's only tokenism. I don't think Management gives a stuff.
In the end it's all down to us - the staff. Now we have to be clinical psychologists, drug and alcohol workers, and prison guards combined!
When we complain to Management about our changing job description and unacceptable levels of stress, we just get slapped down. They say we are not working hard enough or smart enough. We are told if we don't like it we can leave.
It is the system which is at fault, but if anything goes terribly wrong, it will be the poor worker who carries the can and gets the blame.
I used to love my job and I was good at it. Now I can't wait to get out. I am already looking for other employment.
By the way, Management is paranoid - they check our Facebook pages to see if we are criticising them."