Macquarie University
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Public policy and services: rethinking the approach to carers and their dependants

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posted on 2022-03-29, 03:27 authored by Michelle Dellagiacoma
Unpaid carers perform a vital role in supporting the lives of dependent people with disabilities. This load is borne at significant personal cost and many carers are entrapped in extended, possibly lifetime, obligations. The severe physical, mental and material impact of caring is well documented in qualitative and quantitative research. Carers are represented in government policy, but the focus there is to ensure carers can continue to care. Thus commitments by the Australian government, particularly new funding commitments under the Disability Care Framework, assume a lifetime commitment by carers to the care and management of their dependent family members with disabilities. This approach does not consider the treatment or opinion of carers to being so committed. This thesis explores whether carers are treated fairly in theory and policy and finds that prevailing theories and policy permit carer entrapment. It derives a new fair care theory, asks whether this theory resonates with carers, and demonstrates how this new theory could be implemented in policy. Three analytical methods are used. The first draws from Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem Represented to be” (WPR) method of policy analysis, which asserts that all policy is framed to fix a problem, and how a problem is represented determines the ensuing policy. Bacchi’s method is derived from Foucault’s concepts and some critiques of Foucault validate the use of complementary methods to extend the reach of Foucauldian approaches. To include the absent voices of carers, qualitative interviews with carers are used as a second method. To pursue alternative problematisations, this thesis then employs a third approach drawn from ideal political theories and models. These combined methods allow prevailing voices, theories, and policy problematisations to be disrupted by alternative voices, theories and problematisations. To develop an alternative theoretical solution, the thesis investigates Kittay's care constructs alongside Rawls’s theory of justice and so constructs an alternative new fair care theory. The policy and theoretical analysis and the interviews with carers affirm that the new fair care theory addresses carer entrapment, resonates with the majority of carers interviewed, and could be employed to reframe care policy and attain the fair treatment of carers.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction and background -- Part1. Careers in public policy. Chapter 2. The policy context of care and Bacchi's WPR approach Chapter 3. International policy Chapter 4. Commonwealth and NSW state disability policy and legislation Chapter 5. Australian Commonwealth and NSW State carer policy and legislation -- Part 2. Disability and carer theories. Chapter 6. Disability theory Chapter 7. Carer theory and discussion Chapter 8. Deriving a fair care theory for public policy -- Chapter 9. Conclusion -- Appendices -- Bibliography.


Bibliography: pages 236-245 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Geoffrey Hawker


Copyright Michelle Dellagiacoma 2017. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (x, 245 pages)

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