Assessing Government Intentions for Australian Water Reform Using a Social Justice Framework

Document Type

Journal Article


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)


Centre for Planning


Centre for Planning


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Society & Natural Resources on 18 July 2013 as: Lukasiewicz, A., Browner, K., Syme, G. J. & Davidson, P. (2013) Assessing government intentions for Australian water reform using a social justice framework. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, 26(11), 1314-1329. Available onlime here


Concerns about justice are increasing as Australian governments continue to implement water reform, often facing hostility from stakeholders with conflicting interests. This article presents a social justice framework that can be used to analyze water reform from a justice perspective. The framework is a compilation of existing justice theories taken from the social psychology literature and is based on the components of distributive, procedural, and interactive justice. We applied the framework in a content analysis of eight key policy documents on water reform. Results show that Australian governments intend that justice be achieved across the distributive and procedural components, with distribution scoring highest and procedural concerns being most numerous. Justice in water reform is predominantly constructed as distribution according to need, with transparent, consistent, and accurate decision making as a second priority. The analysis shows that the framework is a useful tool for evaluating and developing policy using a justice perspective.