A ‘program of such potential’: The Australian Assistance Plan

Joanne Scott, Melanie Oppenheimer, Erik Eklund

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Australian Assistance Plan (AAP) was an innovative programme of social welfare reform. Foreshadowed in the late 1960s, launched in 1973, and abolished in 1977, it was the subject of substantial commentary during and immediately after its brief existence. Attracting more brickbats than bouquets, the AAP was variously described as ‘a feasible and indeed exciting approach’, ‘the most random of random experiments’, ‘welfare on the cheap’, ‘a confusing program’ and ‘good news’.2 In contrast to other major initiatives of the Whitlam Labor government, it has attracted almost no scholarly analysis since the 1970s.

The AAP was one element of a much larger reform agenda that had been conceived during the last years of the long boom but was implemented and then partly dismantled in a period of growing economic complexity and challenge. This chapter seeks to analyse the origins, activities and demise of the AAP against the Australian and global economy, including the 1973 oil shock, as it provides us with a particular lens through which to interrogate and potentially challenge more generalized assumptions ← 85 | 86 → about the welfare state and economic crises during the period under consideration in this book.3 At the heart of the Australian Assistance Plan was a commitment to local people identifying their particular social welfare needs and then deciding how to meet those needs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe State of Welfare: Comparative Studies of the Welfare State at the End of the Long Boom, 1965-1980
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Studies of the Welfare State at the End of the Long Boom, 1965-1980
EditorsErik Eklund, Melanie Oppenheimer, Joanne Scott
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781787077942, 9781787077935
ISBN (Print)9781787071032
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017


  • Australian Assistance Plan
  • Whitlam
  • welfare


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