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Tuesday, 26 September 1978
Page: 1422

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Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 15 August 1978:

(   1 ) What restrictions are placed on financial assistance made under the States Grants (Home Care) Act for the employment of welfare officers.

(2)   Have any restrictions caused inflexibility and difficulties in municipal social welfare departments if so, how many councils have complained of the problem.

(3)   Will the Minister consider amending these restrictions to allow more flexible use of staff employed under the assistance provided under the Act.

Mr Hunt -The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Under the provisions of the States Grants (Home Care) Act, the Commonwealth pays a subsidy to the States of up to half the salary of approved welfare officers who are employed at, or in conjunction with, senior citizens' centres and who are employed wholly or mainly in providing a welfare service to aged persons. The term 'wholly or mainly' has been defined administratively by my Department as a minimum of 51 per cent of the total time of an officer's employment.

At present the Commonwealth subsidises a total of 1 12 welfare officer positions throughout Australia. Since October 1975 financial constraints have precluded the approval of new welfare officer positions for subsidy under the Act. With additional funding provided in the 1978-79 Budget I was recently able to announce that the Commonwealth support could be extended to an additional 79 welfare officers bringing the total to 1 9 1 positions.

In addition the Government has accepted the recommendations of the Galbally Report regarding the appointment of ethnic welfare officers to work specifically among the ethnicaged. The Government has appropriated $0.1 lm for the salaries of 1 0 new ethnic welfare officer positions in 1 978-79; to be followed by five positions in 1 979-80 and 1 980-8 1 .

(2)   Some local government authorities in Victoria have been under a misapprehension that the welfare officers whom they employ in accordance with the Act must devote their full time to the welfare of aged persons. As indicated above, this is certainly not a restriction imposed by the Act. The Victorian Government is now aware of this.

(3)   The flexible use of welfare officer staff is possible and no change to the guidelines used by my Department is seen to be necessary.

Ethnic Liaison Officers: Attendance at Seminars (Question No. 1708)

Dr Cass (MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 15 August 1978:

(   1 ) Which departments have sent ethnic liaison officers to the monthly seminars conducted by his Department since their inception.

(2)   When was the first seminar held.

Mr MacKellar - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1 ) Since the inception of the scheme all departments have sent Ethnic Liaison Officers to the seminars.

(2   ) The first seminar was held on 22 March 1978.

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