Good social policy making – undermining the market paradigm

Want to know how to do it effectively?  Join other Fabians in an initial half day workshop in the next few weeks that can be extended if people want more....

There are serious shortfalls of socially oriented policies that address the gaps in policies that cover social inequity, fairness and social well being on progressive political parties agendas and relatively few are being promoted by advocacy and community groups. Too much of the present focus is on policies that adjust some obvious flaws in neo-liberalism, so there are few that seek the necessary radical changes that restore social goals as priorities and put economics back to offering the means to pay for them.

At the same time there are angry voters, who are expressing both protests at what is and is not happening. This is fuelling a major distrust epidemic which is undermining the legitimacy of democratic processes. While protesters are identifying their discontents, there are few offering alternatives so their activities have limited effects. Little happens as those seeking and/or in power rarely have the vision necessary to conceptualise alternatives to what they offer to 'buying' voter approval. So little is changing.

If we want changes, we need to show that there are social rather than economic alternatives, both to attract voters with credible visions of better futures and convince those in power that they need to listen. So we need policies that offer the public (voters) greater fairness and a sense that their future government is listening to options for creating more equal and civil societies.

We need to develop policy proposals as possible agenda items, which replace the current limited policies, by those that have social goals, not just economic ones. To develop and distribute these,  we need to tap into wider ideas and viewpoints, so we are exploring the option of offering  a half day plus workshop as an intro to social policies options that can  be used to lobby for and advocate more progressive priorities.

This is intended to be a brief introduction to putting together ideas for policies that can effectively create a paradigm shift so we are citizens, not customers who live in a society not an economy, so we can restore trust in social democratic governance. It will explore both some good social policy possibilities and how they can framed and promoted.

Much of the content is based on both my extensive long experience as an advocate and a long term course on policy and advocacy I taught at UTS.



This workshop explored the processes of effective progressive policy changes. It include the functions of political institutions and operations of power between stakeholders and how to influence changes. It focuses on developing skills in developing credible policy options and the processes for promoting these to politicians and parties.

The aims are putting the social back into socialism. By developing advocacy strategies for change to dominant paradigms and how to argue against these on behalf of groups not well served by them, we can show there are alternatives to the domination of materialism as the primary differentiator. How do we address current political issues and become problem solvers. These are some of techniques we need to have.

  1. Develop analytical skills for exploring both policy and political problems and the development of solutions.
  2. Understand the operations of power in and out of formal institutions and the ways in which political process might be transformed by the influence of stakeholders, social movements and political activism.
  3. Develop skills in both critiquing and proposing policies. You need to be able to offer critiques of current broad policy directions and dominant paradigms, and develop proposals for particular policy changes, within an advocacy or activist framework.

This will include exploring concepts of civil society, power groups and the roles of non government organisations and how to use these to make the issues of policy making more effective.


Necessary knowledge to be covered:

All participants need to be relatively familiar with the way we are governed and the basic structure of the Australian political system. We expect some understanding of the following:

  1. What is the Federal electoral system: how do we elect the Senate and the House of Representative?
  2. What is the relationship between the two Commonwealth chambers? Who has the numbers in the Senate at present?
  3. How does the Australian federation work in terms of the main divisions of power in the Constitution? What are the broad differences in jurisdiction between the Commonwealth and states and local governments? What is COAG?
  4. What is the role of Cabinet, of the Caucus or party room, of the Opposition? Who sits on the cross benches?
  5. What types of international agreements affect how we are governed and how does this happen?
  6. What is the role of political parties? What is their influence and how do they operate?
  7. Who are the main interest groups that influence governments in various areas?
  8. If you are faced with 'brick walls', how do you identify the loose bricks?

If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please email

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