Church-related welfare agencies in Australia: Contracting and institutional secularisation

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The shift by government to contracting of social welfare and human services in Australia in the 1990s raised questions about the possible impacts of not-for-profit agencies becoming financially dependent on government. It was suggested that this move would result in institutional secularisation evidenced in detachment by church-related agencies from their founding bodies and distinctive accounts of mission. This article reports on research that maps the extent of financial dependence of church-related welfare agencies on government and the degree of their (dis)connection to the churches and the Christian tradition after nearly two decades of contracting. The evidence suggests that there is not a necessary and automatic connection between high financial dependence on government and secularisation of church-related agencies. Denominational governance, agency size, along with choices by agency leadership, appear to buffer to varying degrees these impacts of contracting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-98
Number of pages27
JournalJournal for the Academic Study of Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 06 Nov 2019


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