From Welfarist Support for Vulnerable Groups to a Social Justice Perspective: The Australian Council of Social Service and the Construction of Poverty, 1956–75

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It has often been suggested that poor Australians were a forgotten cohort during the long period of post-World War Two prosperity. Yet the peak non-government welfare body, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), aimed from its establishment in 1956 to publicise concerns about poverty, and stimulate policy responses to relieve the disadvantage of those living in poverty. Using a range of primary sources including ACOSS annual reports, policy statements, committee meeting minutes and newsletters, this paper examines the key manifestations of ACOSS advocacy for low-income Australians including research reports, budget submissions and public forums. It is argued that ACOSS gradually shifted from a welfarist approach based on lifting the incomes of specific vulnerable groups in isolation to a social justice approach that linked poverty to wider societal inequities.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 May 2023

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