In the early 1950s several members of Melbourne University's Newman Society were regularly contributing articles to the Catholic Worker and other journals. Opposed to B. A. Santamaria's promotion of the Catholic Church as an unquestionable authority over the behaviour of Catholics, they urged a more analytical approach to the 'standard Catholic way'. When some of their contributions were rejected by established journals, the group founded Prospect, declaring in the first number their aim to foster 'Christian expression to critical, cultural and social problems and those crises that become focussed in the universities'.
Edited by Paul Simpson, who was assisted by members of the Newman Society such as Vincent Buckley, the first number appeared in late 1958. Appearing quarterly, Prospect published the work of many prominent writers, including Buckley, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, James McAuley, A. D. Hope, Gwen Harwood, Evan Jones, Rodney Hall and R. A. Simpson. While many contributors were non-Christian and contributions weren't strictly religious, Prospect remained committed to the cause outlined in its first number.
By 1961, the transience of many members began to cause problems, and separate editorial groups in Sydney and Melbourne made communication difficult. Furthermore, Prospect lost a number of its members to the secular magazine Dissent. Following attacks on the journal from the left and right in 1962, Prospect began to lose the energy of its early numbers. In Cutting Green Hay, Vincent Buckley attributed the subsequent closure of the magazine to the mobility of editors, the lack of a permanent editor, a failure to divide labour and divided intentions. The last number of Prospect appeared in late 1964.