Rising wealth and income inequality in Australia and New Zealand: A radical social work critique and response





wealth and income inequality, radical social work


INTRODUCTION: Wealth and income inequality is increasing in most societies, including Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, with detrimental social impacts. However, despite professional marginality, the renewal of radical social work critiques with their emphasis on structural issues highlight, the need for alternative practice responses.

METHOD: We employed a critical and synthetic review of the literature to examine major trends in wealth and income inequality (both globally, and in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand) and the social work responses to increasing economic inequality.

CONCLUSIONS: Resurgent wealth and income inequality has reached new crisis points in both countries but individualising analyses and programmes render most social work responses complicit with neoliberal governance. These responses do little to reduce inequality. Alternatives promoting economic equality can be found in radical social work approaches.

IMPLICATIONS: At a minimum, effective radical responses to economic inequality must advocate critical social analyses in social work education and practice, including fostering practitioners' capacity for critical reflection, policy practice and political activism.

Author Biographies

Christine Morley, Queensland University of Technology

Associate Professor Christine Morley (PhD) is Head of Social Work and Human Services at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Phillip Ablett, University of the Sunshine Coast

Phillip Ablett (PhD) is Lecturer/Head of the Social Science Program at University of the Sunshine Coast.


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How to Cite

Morley, C., & Ablett, P. (2017). Rising wealth and income inequality in Australia and New Zealand: A radical social work critique and response. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(2), 6–18. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol29iss2id283



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