Australian welfare policy, 1950 to 2007: Continuity and disruption

This project aims to analyse Australian welfare policy from the end of the Chifley government in 1949 to the end of the Howard government in 2007.

Australian Welfare Policy, 1950 to 2007: Continuity and Disruption


The project intends to generate new understandings about the challenges facing the income support system, the key dynamics of policy reforms such as Medicare and Superannuation, and the “exceptionalism” of the Australian model. Expected outcomes include a new database based on time-series data concerning the core income support systems from 1950 to 2020. Intended benefits include a better understanding of the sort of welfare reform needed to pay for major social risks of unemployment, poverty, aged care, disability and the needs of children.

Outcomes / activities

The project is based on archival research, literature and research analysis, and data derived from annual reports. The expected outcomes of the research are:

  1. A book that covers the development of major social policy initiatives over the period, and evaluates their effectiveness and significance
  2. A time series database of key indicators of social welfare policies, detailing recipients, expenditure and the adequacy of benefits. The intention is that this will be publicly available for other researchers at the conclusion of the project

Project details


Australian Research Council – Discovery Project

Project team

Professor John Murphy (Chief Investigator)


Professor John Murphy