University Of Tasmania
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The development of social services in Tasmania.

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:43 authored by Brown, Joan C
In the early days of the Colony, the Lieutenant-Governors inevitably took a paternal role, providing for the needs not only of the convicts who were their prime responsibility, but also for settlers in difficulty. Under Arthur this continued and Van Diemen's Land did not follow the example of New South Wales in subsidising voluntary agencies to enable them to take the lead in providing social services. Arthur expanded the services providing hospitals for the sick and the mentally depots for the aged and infirm, orphan schools for the orphan and destitute child and made separate arrangements for boy convicts. Some voluntary activity was evident principally in the relief field, but it received no assistance from the government and inadequate support from the colonists and so made little headway. The three succeeding Lieutenant-Governors, Franklin, Eardley-Willmot and Denison faced with serious budgetary problems, endeavoured to cut back services for the free poor and resorted to a number of expedients both major and petty to reduce overall costs and to limit the expansion of the services. Voluntary agencies were encouraged verbally but given no subsidy and though more was achieved in this period than under Arthur, the agencies' financial difficulties and lack of public support severely limited the scope of operations. As transportation ended and independence drew near the Imperial Government allowed the services to run down so that at the point of handover to the Colonial government, all were in poor shape. The newly independent government began with enthusiasm to refurbish the social services but before long complaints of excessive expenditure on the poor forced a halt and for the remainder of the century the policy was economy at all costs. The pressure of demand for services and public criticism forced the continued expansion and improvement of the services and in spite of government apathy and reluctance to provide adequate finance, much was achieved. A significant part was played by a small group of public servants in securing changes in policy to meet changing needs. Every encouragement was given to voluntary agencies to establish themselves, including regular subsidies, the use of old Imperial buildings and grants for .special purposes. The agencies began to assume responsibility for some sectors of the social services but lack of adequate local support limited their work to a comparatively subordinate role. A marked increase in voluntary activity in the last ten years of the century while strengthening and widening their sphere of work nevertheless left the state in the dominant position which it had occupied in the social services throughout the century. The study considers the reasons for this pattern of development and also traces through the century the influence of ideas about poverty, of attitudes to the poor and of the impact of the penal system and its aftermath on the social services in Tasmania.


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Copyright 1969 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.) - University of Tasmania, 1969. Bibliography: l. 282-292

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