Church-related Welfare Agencies in Australia

Contracting and Institutional Secularisation


  • Douglas Hynd Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University



Contracting, church-related agencies, institutional secularisation, Australia


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.

Author Biography

Douglas Hynd, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University

Douglas Hynd is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University, Australia. He has worked in the Australian Public Service on social and indigenous policy and program delivery and lectured in Church and Society and Christian Ethics at St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra.


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How to Cite

Hynd, D. (2019). Church-related Welfare Agencies in Australia: Contracting and Institutional Secularisation. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 32(1), 72-98.