During the last 20 years organisations in Australia have been managing their people in a more competitive, global and deregulated environment. Although practitioners support the development and implementation of a human resource management approach, research indicates that the use of practices that are integrated with corporate strategy is uneven. Large organisations, particularly multinationals, are more likely to adopt this approach than are small and medium size firms. One of the rationales for adopting human resource management practices is that they improve organisational performance. However, it appears that HR practitioners are still regarded as operational managers, rather than as business partners. It is also difficult to generalise about the work done by HR specialists, with particular practices being emphasised in the public sector, and different ones in the private sector. The future of these specialists will be influenced by the way work, organisational structure and contractual relationships change.