ABSTRACT

From its resurgence in the 1970s, the Australian women’s movement has given

rise to a vast array of service providers and agencies, from refuges, sexual

assault services and women’s health centres to women’s policy units, women’s

information services and inter-governmental committees. Although these institu-

tions are not always understood as forms of feminist activism, they can be seen

as sustained attempts to achieve social change by making gender equality part of

the business of government and by delivering services to women in a way that

helps to transform gender relations. For this reason the proliferation of these

institutions, and the extent of their survival, needs to be analysed as part of the

movement.1 This chapter examines the place of such institutions in the literature

on social movements generally and women’s movements in particular, identifies

key research questions concerning the interaction of protest and institution-

building and the effect of the political context on establishment and longevity,

and presents findings from a groundbreaking institutions database.