In 1900, the states of New South Wales and Victoria enacted legislation introducing non-contributory pensions for those aged 65 and over.
Welfare systems differ from country to country, but welfare is commonly provided to individuals who are unemployed, those with illness or disability, the elderly, those with dependent children, and veterans.
A person's eligibility for welfare may also be constrained by means testing or other conditions.
The Canadian social safety net covers a broad spectrum of programs, and because Canada is a federation, many are run by the provinces.
Canada has a wide range of government transfer payments to individuals, which totaled $145 billion in 2006.
The Song dynasty government (c.1000AD in China) supported multiple programs which could be classified as social welfare, including the establishment of retirement homes, public clinics, and paupers' graveyards.
According to economist Robert Henry Nelson, "The medieval Roman Catholic Church operated a far-reaching and comprehensive welfare system for the poor..." This system was substantially modified by the 19th-century Poor Law Amendment Act, which introduced the system of workhouses.According to the Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (Algazel, 1058–111), the government was also expected to store up food supplies in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred.(See Bayt al-mal for further information.) Welfare can take a variety of forms, such as monetary payments, subsidies and vouchers, or housing assistance.In its 1952 Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (nr.102), the International Labour Organization (ILO) defined the traditional contingencies covered by social security.This article is about minimal public support similar to charity for people in need.