Charity or Universal Entitlement? 1890–1916
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Charity or Universal Entitlement? 1890–1916 book
Signs of an impending economic crisis in 1890 prompted the appointment of a Royal Commission on Charitable Institutions in Victoria. Its membership was dominated by supporters of the Charity Organisation Society, who also inspired its theories of systematic charity for properly assessed deserving cases. The high priests of selective charity were tried and found wanting by the sheer volume of the problem and by the growing realisation that the poverty of unemployed families was not the fault of the families involved. Instead of chancy selective charity leading to early institutionalisation and consequent physical decay, here was an opportunity for social action on a consistent, statutory basis, taking existing family life as its foundation. 'Imposition', and the needs of the 'deserving poor', rather than the 'rights' of all aged people were taken seriously. Universal entitlements of categories of citizens had come to stay, no matter what the agonised cries of doctors or treasurers might be to the contrary.