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Wednesday, 3 April 1957


Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice-

Under what conditions are Australian aborigines deemed eligible for social services, anil for which services are they eligible?


Mr Roberton - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: -

The Commonwealth Government has no constitutional power to make laws with respect to aboriginal natives, except those in its own territories. Notwithstanding this, the Commonwealth has provided social service benefits for Australian aboriginals who are able to comply with certain conditions. The various benefits and the conditions applicable to each are set out hereunder: -

Child Endowment. - Child endowment may be granted to an aboriginal mother in all cases except where she is nomadic or where the children are wholly or mainly maintained by the Common - wealth or a State.

Maternity Allowances. - A maternity allowance may be granted to an aboriginal mother who has been granted exemption from the provisions of the law of the State or Territory in which she resides relating to the control of aboriginal natives. Provision for the granting of certificates of exemption exists in New South Wales, Queensland. South Australia and Western Australia. In Victoria where there is no such provision an aboriginal mother may receive a maternity allowance if the Director-General of Social Services is satisfied that, by reason of her character, standard at intelligence and social development it is desirable that a maternity allowance be granted to her. In practice, a maternity allowance is granted if the mother's standard of living is such that she would he likely to be granted a certificate of exemption if she were residing in a State which provides for exemption. These provisions apply only to natives in whom aboriginal blood predominates. They do not apply to half-caste and lesser caste aboriginal mothers, who are eligible for maternity allowances under the same conditions as white persons.

Age, Invalid and Widows' Pensions. - The conditions of eligibility for age, invalid and widows' pensions are the same as for maternity allowances. Pensions are not, however, granted to half-castes or lesser castes who live on aboriginal reserves or settlements. This is in accordance with the policy followed by successive governments for many years past.

Unemployment Benefits. - An aboriginal native may be paid an unemployment benefit if by reason of his character, standard of intelligence and social development, he is considered a suitable person to receive payment. Compliance with the normal conditions of entitlement is, in itself, to a large extent indicative of the fact that the native is a suitable person to receive an unemployment benefit; e.g., he must be capable of, and willing to undertake, suitable employment.

Sickness Benefits. - The position is the same as for unemployment benefits. Where an aboriginal native has suffered a loss of wages or other income by reason of his incapacity and complies with the other conditions of entitlement, he is generally regarded as a suitable person to receive sickness benefit.


Mr Bryant t asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -

1.   How many aborigines are in receipt of the various categories of social services in each of the States and Territories?

2.   From what social service benefits are aborigines excluded by Act of Parliament, regulation or departmental procedures?


Mr Roberton - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1, Information regarding the number of aboriginal natives in Australia receiving the various social service benefits is not readily available and could nui be obtained without an unreasonable amount of work.

2.   The Commonwealth Government has no constitutional power to make .laws with respect to aboriginal natives except those in its own territories, but, notwithstanding this, the Commonwealth does not exclude aboriginal natives from social service benefits provided they conform to certain standards. The conditions under which the various benefits are paid are as follows: -

Child Endowment. - Child endowment may be granted to an aboriginal mother in all cases except where she is nomadic or where the children are wholly or mainly maintained by the Commonwealth or a Slate.

Maternity Allowances. - A maternity allowance may be granted to an aboriginal mother who has been granted exemption from the provisions of the law of the State or Territory in which she resides relating lo ihe control of aboriginal natives. Provision for the granting of certificates of exemption exists in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. In Victoria where there is no such provision, an aboriginal mother may receive a maternity allowance if the DirectorGeneral of Social Services is satisfied that, by reason of her character, standard of intelligence and social development it is desirable that a maternity allowance should be granted to her. Id practice, a maternity allowance is granted if the mo. her 's standard of living is such that she would be likely to be granted a certificate of exemption if she were residing in a State which provides for exemption. These provisions apply only to natives in whom aboriginal blood predominates. They do not apply to half-caste and lesser caste aboriginal mothers, who are eligible for maternity allowances under the same conditions as while persons.

Age, Invalid and Widows' Pensions. - The conditions of eligibility for age, invalid and widows' pensions are the same as for maternity allowances. Pensions are not, however, granted to half-castes or lesser castes who live on aboriginal reserves or settlements. This is in accordance with the policy followed by successive governments for many years past.

Unemployment Benefits. - An aboriginal native may be paid an unemployment benefit if by reason of his character, standard of intelligence and social development, he is considered a suitable person to receive payment. Compliance with the normal conditions of entitlement is, in itself, to a large extent indicative of the fact that the native is a suitable person to receive an unemployment benefit: e.g., he must be capable of,' and willing to undertake, suitable employment.

Sickness Benefits. - The position is the same as for unemployment benefits. Where an aboriginal native has suffered a loss of wages or other income by reason of his incapacity and complies with the other conditions of entitlement, he is generally regarded as a suitable person to receive sickness benefit.







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