Accounting and accountability for disability benefits in Australia (1909-1961)



Publication Details

Nikidehaghani, M. & Hui, F. (2017). Accounting and accountability for disability benefits in Australia (1909-1961). Accounting History, 22 (23), 348-369.


Public welfare programs have played a central role in providing support for the disabled in Australia since the early twentieth century. This study examines the role that discursive regimes of accounting and accountability played in such programs between 1909 and 1961, focusing on the Means Tests employed. The study reveals the array of implications of the accounting techniques that governed the identification of the disabled and often overrode a duty and ethic of care. Applying a Foucauldian perspective, the study explores how accounting practices associated with the disability support program were instrumental in identifying desired targets for austerity and the refusal of care. The findings review how accountability assisted the government to construct identities that facilitate the ability of the State to subject the disabled to continuous monitoring and observation. Further, the article reveals how techniques of accounting functioned as a “technology of the self” and facilitated the process of transforming individuals into subjugated citizens.

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