Postprint of: Brown, KA & Keast, RL 2005, 'Social services policy and delivery in Australia: centre-periphery mixes', Policy & Politics, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 505-518.
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The development of social services policy and the delivery of those attendant services have come to occupy a core role for modern governments. The modes of policy development and service delivery and their coordination have shifted between centralised models operated by decision-making elites and a peripheral model in which government divests some level of authority and responsibility for the development and implementation of social services policy to community-based actors and organisations. Changing policy stances bring these models and their associated coordination principles into dominance at diﬀerent points in history and, importantly, problematise social services policy making and delivery through the continued existence of residual aspects of these multiple approaches.
The Howard government's current social services policy draws on aspects of the periphery modes of social organisation, policy development and service delivery. However, the continued reliance on central regulating and coordinating processes has led to a blurring of the boundaries of responsibility for policy formulation and coordinated execution and delivery of services in this critical area. It is argued that, irrespective of the dominant domain, government, by virtue of its central role to ensure social stability, should retain some responsibility for policy development and oversight through more vertical, centralised coordination modes but in a way that combines with horizontal, decentralised relational approaches to ensure participation and engagement.