Social Work and Human Services: Australian social policy

Scholarly commentary: some key books and journals

The Library Catalogue can be a good starting point for finding books, journal articles, videos and other material in the UniSA Library collection. Here are a few example searches:

You can extend your search beyond the Catalogue using relevant specialised databases that will provide more sophisticated search functionality and access to additional material.

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Think tanks

"Should think tanks be asked to disclose their funding when it's editorially relevant?"

ABC TV's Media Watch asked this question in the video linked below, which discusses several prominent Australian think tanks.

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Conference papers

Conference papers are the written version of presentations given at conferences or meetings of professional/scholarly bodies and organisations.

Papers are generally reviewed by peers and collected together by the editors before being made available through conference proceedings.

Conference papers can be a great way to find up to date information, research trends and innovations on a specific topic. Researchers often present their research findings first at conferences.

There is no single search tool that comprehensively lists conference papers and proceedings. You may be able to discover references to these (and sometimes the full text as well) via:

  • Web search engines e.g. Google - papers may be available via websites for free or fee, or there may be information about how to obtain them. Unfortunately many conference websites vanish after a few years
  • Library collection discovery tools such as the Catalogue or Trove - Proceedings may available online or in print via Library collections or institutional repositories
  • Subscribed databases - Conference proceedings are indexed by some databases. For example Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Social Science & Humanities, many Informit databases (such as FAMILY), and Sociological Abstracts. Papers may also be published in journals, for example in special issues or supplements
  • Institutional repositories - Conference papers by academics may be available online from the university repository (e.g. Research Outputs Repository (ROR) , UQ eSpace)
  • Other discovery tools - OAIster and Google Scholar both search across millions of records from institutional repositories and other sources

When searching for conference papers and proceedings:

  • Find the exact title of a conference proceeding/paper report by typing the title into the search box  e.g. "Building community capacity: removing the barriers" - use double quotes for phrasesLimiting the format type in Trove [Image source: UniSA Library, Trove]

  • You can use type or format limits (if available) to limit your results to conference proceedings (but this may miss papers published in other formats, such as books or journal articles)

  • Alternatively include the terms conference and/or proceedings in your search, combined with keywords such as organisation name, other words from the conference title or discipline terms e.g.

  • Search on variations e.g. theme titles, acronyms and full names of conferences/organisations e.g.

    • conference (aasw OR "australian association of social workers")

    • (2010 AND "cultural studies association of australasia") or "scholarly affair"

Conference papers often form the basis for journal articles, so you might find a similarly themed article by a conference paper author.

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Peak bodies

Peak bodies [Image source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain]'Peak bodies' provide a leading role in advocating and influencing policy to achieve the shared aims of their member groups or associations. 

The Australian Council of Social Service is '...the peak body of the community services and welfare sector and the national voice for the needs of people affected by poverty and inequality.' ('Who we are').

Hint: look for a 'publications' tab or menu option to locate submissions and more

Feed: latest VCOSS documents

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A few key sources of grey literature

Government departments, institutes, clearinghouses, professional associations and other organisations can be an excellent source of information.  'Grey literature' is information that has not been published commercially.

Freely available material can include 

  • reports
  • statistics
  • submissions (responses to public consultations run by government or statutory authorities)
  • working papers
  • details of research projects
  • speeches
  • policy documents
  • legislation

A 'clearinghouse' is an organisation that provides research, data and other information relating to a particular issues in order to raise awareness and facilitate discussion. This information can support a range of people and organisations including activists, service providers, researchers and government agencies.

Search tip: use Google to search across multiple Australian, state, territory and local government website pages by including (or to limit to South Australian bodies) in your search e.g.

Example search using 'site' search limit

Archived government websites
Find material that is no longer available via current Australian government websites or simple web searches. This can be a good way to access policy documents from previous governments.

Referencing grey literature can present challenges.

If you are not sure how to reference a particular resource, refer to available referencing guides. Your tutor may also have a preference as to how you present your references, especially if the guide is ambiguous.

Below are a few examples of referencing in Harvard UniSA style.

Type of reference Reference list example
Media release Ley, S (Minister for Health) 2015, Government continues Medicare consultation, media release, 3 March, Department of Health, Canberra, viewed 2 August 2016, <>.
Submission to parliamentary inquiry Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) 2015, Re: Social Services Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment) Bill 2015, Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, AASW, Canberra, viewed 2 August 2016, <>.
Policy paper Maas, F & Hartley, R 1988, On the outside: the needs of unsupported, homeless youth, Policy Background Paper No. 7, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne, viewed 2 August 2016,  <>.
Hansard Australia, House of Representatives 2003, Debates, 5 June, pp. 16248-16252.
Bill Health Legislation Amendment (Medicare and Private Health Insurance) Bill 2003 (Cwlth).
Act Mental Health Act 2009 (SA).
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Policy in the news

Find news reports, articles, television broadcasts and more
News Media guide

Visit the News Media guide, featuring news sources from Australia and around the world

The guide includes links to resources subscribed to by the Library as well as to freely available resources



A chief source for Australian news reports is TVNews:

Just a few of the programs available via TVNews:

  • Dateline - international current affairs program
  • Four Corners - investigative journalism
  • Insiders - interviews, discussion, and analysis of national news
  • Insight
  • Lateline - nightly news analysis
  • Media Watch - analyses the media and journalism exposing conflicts of interest, power abuse, lies, plagarism and fraud
  • Q and A

New! From July 2016 TVNews records are available via the Catalogue. Example search: NDIS > Show Only: Videos

If you are not sure how to reference a particular resource, refer to available referencing guides. Your tutor may also have a preference as to how you present your references, especially if the guide is ambiguous.

Examples of referencing in Harvard UniSA style.

Type of reference Reference list example
Newspaper article Cook, H 2014, ‘St Kilda housing at risk of sell-off in government review’, Age, 26 August, p. 12.
Television program A Current Affair 2015, television program, Nine Network, 20 February, viewed 24 August 2016, TVNews.

Australian politics

Related page:

Australian politics

(Politics and International Relations Subject Guide)

Links to political party websites and much more.