A Century of Australian Social Policy

Subject AUST90001 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2 hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment: Total Time Commitment: 120 hours
Prerequisites: Enrolment in a relevant coursework Masters program or admission to a relevant postgraduate diploma or fourth-year honours program
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Prof John Murphy


John Murphy john


Subject Overview:

This subject offers a brisk survey of Australian history, through the lens of attempts to construct a more just society. It challenges the myth that we are as egalitarian as we like to think. At the start of the twentieth century, Australia had a self-perception as a "social laboratory", and had achieved both a male minimum wage and an old age pension. Yet half a century later, Australia was a "welfare laggard" and today our welfare system is relatively underdeveloped and ungenerous. The subject explores this puzzle through several interlocking themes. What have been the contending moral and political views that have sometimes motivated attempts to build a just society, and sometimes prevented reforms? What has been built and what has failed? What has been the role of religion in these attempts? Who has been entitled to income support, and who has been excluded? How has welfare support reflected ideas about gender and the family? How did all these debates draw on transnational thinking about welfare? As these remain contemporary issues, about poverty, about justice and about self-reliance, the subject provides an opportunity to examine the present in the light of the past.

Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject should have:
  • a sophisticated historical understanding of social policy interventions in Australia over the past century;
  • an understanding of the comparative analysis of policy regimes;
  • an understanding of fundamental concepts in social policy analysis, such as social protection, arbitration, gender, decommodification, equity and mixed economies of welfare;
  • a conceptual analysis of the role of social theory in developing and analysing policy;
  • a fuller understanding of contemporary debates and directions in social policies and programs; and
  • enhanced skills in writing about the history of social policy interventions and choices.

A book review of 1000 words 20% (due week 6 of semester) and a research essay of 4000 words 80% (due during the examination period). Students must complete all assignments and attend at least 80% of classes to be eligible for assessment.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to pass this subject. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available at the beginning of semester.

    Breadth Options:

    This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

    Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
    Links to further information: http://australian-centre.unimelb.edu.au/
    Related Course(s): Bachelor of Public Policy and Management
    M.A.Australian Studies (Advanced Seminars and Shorter Thesis)
    Master of Public Policy and Management (Coursework)
    Master of Social Policy
    Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Public Policy and Management)
    Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 150 point program - full time over 18 months
    200 point program - full time over 18 months
    200 point program - full time over 24 months
    Australian Studies
    Australian Studies
    Public Policy and Management
    Public Policy and Management

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