Social inclusion has been at the centre of the Australian social policy agenda since the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was elected to government in 2007. Since then, the government has set in place a series of administrative, consultative and measurement structures designed to improve understanding of the issue, to monitor change and to help develop appropriate policy responses. However, while much has been achieved, it remains unclear whether the new policy focus has made a substantive difference in practice to what would have been achieved by any new centre-left government coming to office after a decade of policy reform driven by a combination of social conservatism and economic neo-liberalism. This article describes how the Australian social inclusion policy agenda has evolved since 2007, reviews recent research developments and presents new findings on recent changes in different dimensions of exclusion. Attention also focuses on the problems associated with identifying instances of exclusion in general, on the overlap/relationship between exclusion and poverty, and on the impact of exclusion and poverty on subjective well-being.
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