University of Tasmania

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Policy implementation and refugee settlement: The perceptions and experiences of street-level bureaucrats in Launceston, Tasmania

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 16:08 authored by Ivan JamesIvan James, Roberta JulianRoberta Julian
The roles played by professional frontline service providers in the implementation of refugee settlement policy in Australia have not been researched in depth. Australia plays a leading part in settling 18,740 refugees annually. This qualitative investigation interviewed 20 professionals engaged in this activity in Launceston, Tasmania and employed Lipsky’s concept of ‘street-level bureaucrats’ to explicate their decision-making processes as they implemented public policy. The findings suggest that the majority of participants contextualised and individualised the delivery of benefits and services. In doing so, their worldviews, values, and professional experience led them to ‘turn a blind eye’, ‘bend the rules’, or even engage in bureaucratic versions of guerrilla warfare to achieve what they believed to be the best outcome for their clients. This research is significant because it demonstrates that street-level bureaucrats may escape the constraints of neoliberal managerialism by exercising creative beneficent discretion that aligns with policy objectives.


Publication title

Journal of Sociology






School of Social Sciences


Sage Publications Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society