The challenge of the care workforce: Recent trends and emerging problems

Gabrielle Meagher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the paid care workforce in community services in Australia. Focusing on people employed in direct service delivery roles, I use unpublished data from the Censuses of 1996 and 2001 to document some important characteristics of the care workforce in community services, in which a large minority of care workers are employed in this country. International research has established that paid care workers suffer considerable labour market disadvantage. The paper presents evidence of deinstitutionalisation, deprofessionalisation, functional underemployment, and relatively poor pay for care workers in community service industries, which suggests that problems identified in other English-speaking countries are also evident in Australia. I conclude by discussing the policy implications of these trends, and by raising some questions for workforce planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-167
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Care work
  • Community services
  • Working conditions


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