Neoliberalism and the Third Sector in Australia

Van Gramberg, Bernadine and Bassett, Penny (2005) Neoliberalism and the Third Sector in Australia. Working Paper. Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


In an effort to reduce costs and do more with less, Australian governments have called for increased community organisation activity and greater levels of volunteerism. The rationale, apart from providing cost savings, has been described as tapping into the commitment of individuals, who are motivated to provide high standards of caring service under the auspices of non-profit organisations such as welfare, aid or environmental agencies that comprise what is called the third sector. Whilst this would seem at odds with an otherwise, arguably heartless, neoliberal agenda, the engagement with the third sector represents an important strategy as governments shift their activities away from service provision, particularly from welfare services. This paper argues that western governments such as those in the UK, US, Canada and Australia have utilised the third sector as a means of quelling potential political opposition by rendering these community organisations dependent on funding tied to performance and outcome measures set by government; silencing these organisations from criticising government and restructuring the sector through amalgamation and closures. Together these tactics are having the effect of institutionalising the neoliberal agenda while quashing political opposition.

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Item type Monograph (Working Paper)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Management and Information Systems
Keywords neoliberalism; third sector; Australia; community organisation activity; volunteerism
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