This Diary summarises the legislative and administrative changes made in the social policy field during 1981 by the Commonwealth government, and to a lesser extent by the State governments. It provides a ready reference for research workers, and can also be used as a succinct and factual account of policy during the year. Unlike its predecessors, this Diary attempts to cover the main policy changes at a State level in the social policy field. It was not possible to obtain complete coverage for all fields and all States, but it was decided to publish those summaries which were obtained, on the grounds that a beginning must be made. This Diary covers the main areas of social policy apart from education. However, it makes no mention of general economic policy or political events. For these the reader is referred to the 'Diary of Recent Economic Events and policy statements' included in each issue of the Australian Economic Review, to the Diary of Political Events in each issue of Australian Quarterly, and to the 'Broadcasting Chronology' included since 1981 in Media Information Australia.