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Tuesday, 8 May 1984
Page: 1744

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. Has an excess number of clerical staff been employed by the Department of Social Security in Victoria, presumably engaged as a result of the assets testing policy? Has a management decision been taken to reduce staffing levels by not replacing any permanent or temporary welfare staff who leave before 30 June? Is it further proposed not to renew contracts of those engaged on a contractual basis beyond 29 June? As this would result in a serious decline in professional services to clients in the community, will the Minister advise the Senate of his views on this matter and also on whether any other State is in a similar position in regard to staff numbers?

Senator GRIMES —I was approached before the end of the last two-week sitting period, before I went overseas, about complaints from Victoria that welfare staff in some offices were not being reappointed and that there was therefore a staff shortage of these professional people in some offices. It is my recollection that I consulted with senior officers of the Department and that an investigation was started. I understand, although I will have to check my memory on this, that just before I left the matter seemed to have been settled and that those offices which were short of welfare staff were to have that situation corrected. However, I do not recall the exact details and I do not have a brief with me. I will get the answer as soon as I can for the honourable senator and give her the information that she seeks.