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The Role of Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations in Australian Democracy and Policy Governance

Article

Australia, like many Western liberal democracies, has experienced an unprecedented shift toward market driven policy governance in the past decade, influenced heavily by the demands of globalization but also the dominance of conservative ideas of liberal democracy and market oriented neoliberalism. In this context nonprofit advocacy organizations (NPAOs) have not only been subject to criticism and a reduction in governmental support, but have had their legitimacy challenged and questioned. This paper responds to an audible, visible, and highly contestable critique of NPAOs by exploring their contemporary place and role in Australian democracy. This discussion relies on a review of some key ideas and theories of liberal democracy and an overview of the current Australian context in which NPAOs operate, particularly in regard to their participation in policy governance. A key observation about how integral NPAOs are to ensure an active and open democracy, challenges the current directions of Australian governance and suggests a need for reflection on what actually constitutes a fully functioning democracy that fits the demands of the twenty-first century.

KEY WORDS:

nonprofit advocacy organizations liberal democracy policy governance neoliberalism participation Australia 

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work and Policy StudiesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Social Work and Policy Studies, Faculty of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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