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Wednesday, 3 June 1970


Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) - This Bill proposes certain grants towards capital costs on the basis of $2 for each $1 on the conditions outlined in the Bill and also towards the purchase of approved equipment for centres which are dedicated to the training and rehabilitation of handicapped children. Because of an expansion in the definition of a handicapped child it not only includes a person under 21 years but in some cases it includes a person over 21 years, where that person has had continuous training in that centre. There are some admirable features in this Bill because it moves into an area where clearly there is a grave need for community provision, need on a much greater scale than we have seen so far. To the extent that it moves into that area, it is admirable. But it does not move into it very far. I want to speak on it at some length later but the first point I want to raise is that this seems to be an open end commitment. We do not know how much it will cost.

Normally [ would not want to quibble over something like this because whatever it costs it is worth the expenditure. However, at election times we have been used to hearing from the Government the parrot-like repetitive cry: 'How much will the Labor Party's policy cost? Where will it get the money from?'. It would therefore have been desirable for the Government to have shown some consistency and to have indicated how much this would cost, to have put up the basis on which the costing had been assessed so that it could have been subjected to some rigorous scrutiny, and then would have indicated where the money was coming from. We would have been shot down in flames for proposing an open ended commitment such as this at the election. We would also have had our proposition subjected to the peculiar costing of the Government, which would have resulted in our proposals being grossly inflated in the cost assessment. On the other hand, we see where the Government's proposals are grossly understated. The Government was $13.5m or 67% out in the case of costing of health insurance. But 1 mention this by the way. It is not without its importance, nonetheless.

Adverting to the point with which I commenced and which I want to develop, this again is social welfare by instalments. The needs and priorities of the community have not been established and indeed are being ignored because of this piecemeal way in which the Government approaches social welfare. This arises because the philosophy upon which the Government largely bases its action in social welfare seems to be vote purchasing power which is cynically calculated. The main question seems to be how many votes can be bribed, rather than a commitment to people and to society which guides what is being done. Professor Brown in the June 1966 edition of 'Australian Quarterly' appropriately then, and equally appropriately now, said:

So long as social action is equated with charity and so long as social expenditure is seen primarily as serving political ends, the tendency will be to do as little as possible in a piecemeal fashion in response to political pressure.

This sort of cynical standard ought to be rejected, and we ought to have identified and clearly established the social welfare priorities and needs of the community. There has never been any effort, of which we are aware, on the part of the Government to do this. It is not just a matter of carrying out a survey to find out what these needs are, to identify priorities, to evaluate various need meeting processes, and then to develop policy. There is also incumbent upon us an obligation to involve the public in discussion on this subject. Where are the white papers on this particular aspect? Where are the white papers on social welfare generally? These are so much part and parcel of what is done in Great Britain. They are extremely valuable because they create an informed mind and help to develop a suitable climate for more positive reception of proposed changes in social welfare thinking.

I will give an example of how this happened in my own case. I remember 1 was asked several years ago to appear on a television programme to discuss retiring age in a round-table discussion group. My assumption then was that people ought to be allowed to retire al 65 years of age and we ought to move towards reducing this to 60 or even younger. In any event, I did quite a bit of reading in the public library in Brisbane, and one of the most influential documents I read was a report on this subject by the British Ministry of Social Welfare. This report established - and this is particularly important to people in the Labor movement because we represent these people - that there is a definite correlation between retirement and an upsurge in mortality among men within 18 months of retirement. This is more pronounced with working class people. Within 18 months of retirement there is a very marked upsurge on the graph of mortality amongst men. The conclusion reached in this report was that people who were suddenly projected into a life where they were no longer productive and suddenly realised that what they had done for 40 years was not. after all, indispensible were confronted with a grave psychological state of stress. This accentuated the mortality rate.

The importance of this is that 1 changed my attitude on the retiring age. I will not take the point any further at this stage, but the community could completely recast its approach to this important topic. The point I am making now is not about retiring age but about the value of such reports. I read this report and 1 saw the results of this evidence. This was replicated in reports from France and from the United States of America. I changed my mind. I found that the facts were quite different from what I expected. Could it not be that here even the Government might be wrong? It has never carried out any survey into this subject. I have established this. 1 understand that it is now seeking to appoint staff suitably qualified to do just this. But there has been no comprehensive national survey of the handicapping of children. We might very well find that there are different priorities, that there is an area of urgency which we are completely neglecting when we deal with grant aid only on the basis of capital expenditure or the expenditure of some sort of equipment.

Let me make one other point in relation to the need for this sort of survey. Given the secrecy which shrouds so much of what is done by Government departments which are noi associated with strategic factors, such as defence - health cannot be put into this category, nor can social welfare - and given the fact that when the Government does make an inquiry it keeps its information confidential, it is awfully difficult for ordinary members of Parliament - back benchers on the Government side, and front and back benchers on this side - to delve out the sort of information they need if they are to make valid conclusions on important matters of legislation in this House. Honourable members should contrast the situation which exists between the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and myself. He has backing him a $15. 5m administration apparatus. He has more than 4,000 employees available to work for him to produce the information that he requires. I have none of this, nor has any other honourable member on this side of the House.

If I want information in this case I have to read nearly 100 annual reports from various organisations, believe me for a very little return. It was really wasted effort in terms of the hours I spent on this in comparison with what I could have achieved doing other things. But it was one of the few avenues available to me. I have the Library available to me. but it is gravely' overtaxed in its resources and its staff. This just is not good enough and ii is nol the way in which we ought to be proceeding in our deliberations on important social welfare policy. I leave the point there, but I do hope that the Minister does not forget it. I cannot expect that he alone will change the situation in relation to resources for private members, but he can do something about seeing that reports are produced regularly on aspects of social welfare policy or on social welfare needs in the community.

We on the Opposition side are proceeding without any estimate of cost or of the numbers of people involved. A figure of 50.000 has been quoted as an estimate, but it is not based on any factual assessment. We do not know what arc the ureas of need and we do not know where the gaps arc or where the overlapping is occurring. We may have some idea about these things. but this is purely subjective assessment from our own experience. This is limited to our experience which cannot be comprehensive in a country as big as Australia. Because of this on behalf of the Opposition I move this amendment:

That all words after That' be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill, the House is of opinion that a national inquiry should be conducted to identify the nature and extent of mental and physical handicaps in children, as a basis to the Commonwealth establishing a national policy for handicapped children involving Commonwealth and State Governments, local authorities and private agencies in co-operative action'.

We are seeking the reliable information of which I speak. We are seeking an involvement of each of the tiers of Government, and we are also seeking to mobilise and co-operate with each of these the private agencies which are presently in existence in the community. It is only in this way that we can hope to speak meaningfully of a campaign against poverty. The Minister for Social Services said in reply to question No. 90S which I asked on this subject:

The number of handicapped children in Australia is not known.

He said this bluntly and specifically. This is the basis upon which we now proceed. There has been a survey on this subject in New South Wales. The New South Wales Department of Public Health backed up the Council of Social Services of New South Wales, but that Council is an unofficial body and it was charged with the responsibility of making a survey in that State. The survey showed that 23% of the civilian population in New South Wales was estimated to suffer from 1 or more chronic illnesses, injuries or impairments. It also showed:

The most striking information contained in Table 12-

Which is in the report. is the large number of work-handicapped people, some 5% of the work force or 2% of the State's whole population.

To me this is a dramatic finding. It presents a stark situation. If we. are not concerned about human values, if in fact the quality of life of which we speak so much is nothing more than an empty slogan let us at least be selfish and be concerned about economic factors.

Let us appreciate just how much this represents in a loss of productivity in the community - this degree of non-productive work force that is out of action - and how much it represents in loss to the community because the rest of the community which is productive has to provide a surplus or to set aside a reserve to maintain these people. Let us be selfish on the economic factor. On this ground alone we ought to be moved to do much more than we are doing. We ought to feel this sense of urgency about this subject.

With the Federal Government providing money, as it ought to if it accepts its moral responsibility, we might be able to get beyond the obnoxious practice of conducting lengthy telethons, beauty parades with the sort of values which they represent - not the most desirable, I believe, in a tolerant community which is concerned about people's human qualities rather than physical qualities, which can be deceiving anyway. Then there are the cake stalls and the whole array of raffles and badgering people in the street by rattling tin boxes on collection day. This is not the way, based on charity, in which to look after those in the community who are unfortunate and who have a greater disadvantage than the rest of us. Yet this is the way in which we foist charity upon them and will continue to foist it upon them with this legislation largely because we do not proceed and penetrate into the area in the way in which we ought to.

I should like to know whether this is part of a conscious plan. Three years ago we had the sheltered workshops and now we have this. What about in 3 years time? Of course this is evidence of the piecemeal way in which we proceed, of what Professor Brown was criticising so trenchantly in 1966 and of what he criticised again last week at the Australian Council of Social Services National Conference here in Canberra. It is done for votes, not for human good. It is done for the cynical political gain which can be grabbed at election time.


Mr Wentworth - The honourable member knows that that is not true.


Mr HAYDEN - Of course it is true. Why does the Government not carry out a national survey? The situation of handicapped children has been well known to exist in the community for a long time.

It affects a large number of people. Proceeding on this piecemeal basis is not the way in which to overcome the problem. Professor . Brown said in 1963, and even earlier:

It is sometimes said of social welfare that it is not a question of policy but of politics.

I- say this in reply to the Minister:

In the worst sense of ils usage this is true in Australia. Social programmes depend more on estimates of their vote catching strength than on serious study of people's needs.

Of course it is true. Ourcasual attitude and quite inadequate approach to the needs of the physically, mentally and socially handicapped children is contrary to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, principle 5, which states:

A child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.

Yet the Minister confessed in his cecond reading speech that, although it is estimated that something like 50,000 children are handicapped children within the definition of that term, only about half of them are able to resort to suitable facilities for their rehabilitation. So we ignore, as we generally ignore anyway, our moral obligations - and that is all they can be under the United Nations arrangements. We ignore, as we usually do, our moral commitment, which sounds grand when we prescribe it to the public and say that we endorse it. But when it comes into practice we totally ignore it.

The cruelty of this is the creation of unnecessary personality problems for the handicapped child. He learns early in his life by his failures and frustrations that he is in fact a failure. This attitude becomes consolidated in his personality and he develops all sorts of problems in his emotional makeup. You cannot completely eliminate this. There will be a variation between children in the extent to which this will develop. But we can do much to modify it. In some cases we can probably largely eliminate it. This is the sort of constructive and practical approach which ought to be undertaken in this House.

The real problem is not the capital expenditure for the organisations which are conducting services which help handicapped children. The real problem for these organisations concerns recurrent expenditures.

How do they pay for their staff? lt is extremely expensive. I will quote the case of autistic children directly. How do they afford transport, for instance, for spastic children who have to move over a fair distance to a centre? This happens in my town of Ipswich. Spastic children have to go 30 miles to Brisbane. It is not economically feasible to set up a spastic centre in Ipswich. This causes all sorts of cost problems.

These are the sorts of things that ought to be grappled with if we are to talk eulogistically and with self-praise about what is being done by the Federal Government for handicapped children and for the unfortunate parents who have tq bear the burden of handicapped children. In my city of Ipswich in one case a father works during the day as a truck driver and the mother works at night in a woollen mill so that between them they can have enough money tn maintain all the services that are necessary for their child who is gravely handicapped to meet the costs of his transport to and from Brisbane and the cost of special equipment, special books and so on. What sort of selfish society do we live in which tolerates this sort of discrimination? lt is discrimination to treat equals as unequals. lt is equally discriminatory to treat unequals as equals. Yet this seems to be the basic assumption upon which this legislation proceeds.

I will refer to mental retardation as a specific case of the sort of problems I have in mind generally. It is estimated that probably 1.5% of the population comes into the area of the term 'mental retardation'. Yet the mildly retarded person can be absorbed into the community after adequate schooling. Is there in fact adequate schooling provided throughout the community? There certainly is in some areas, but what about throughout the community? These are the burning questions we want answered in this Parliament. These are the facts which ought to have been presented to us before we proceeded on this sort of debate. Is the standard and quality of education being provided good enough? I doubt it. That is no reflection on the people providing the education. I make this assessment on the basis of the deficiencies in the educational system for what could be called 'normal children'. There are grave failings there.

Quite clearly there will be failings in the education of children who are handicapped.

What about pre-school centres for these children, perhaps mixed pre-school centres? I believe that something is being done in this direction in South Australia but what about throughout Australia? Goodness only knows that normal children are not able to obtain sufficient pre-school training. No provision has been made for the handicapped child. Yet they are children, precisely because they tend to be slow learners, who must start earlier at school and who must obtain the special preliminary training which goes with a pre-school centre. No provision has been made there.

We generally regard South American countries as being economically inferior to this country in their development and therefore as not having an economic surplus that would allow the development of social service policies such as we could implement. But in Uruguay, a country which comes in this category, one finds superior services available for handicapped children. Educationalists who are specially trained go into the homes of retarded pre-school youngsters and deal with the children's needs, for instance, by stimulating their sensory organs, providing special toys and training them to use them. They provide speech therapy and so on. If this is done in Australia it would be done in a very limited way, but to my knowledge it is not done at all.

We have not discussed the values of segregation versus integration in some areas. We cannot do this with all handicapped children of course. I am not suggesting this. But it clearly can be done for some children. Segregation, on the basis of what I have read from reports, seems to accentuate the differences and the sense of being a failure or of being deficient in handicapped children and helps to develop and consolidate a sub-culture attitude and interfere, therefore, with rehabilitation. This often makes it extremely difficult for these children in their transmission into an adult environment. These are surely serious questions which ought to be bearing heavily on the minds of the national decision makers.

It is no good passing this subject back to the States. They do not have enough cash to deal with it. Their financial resources are fully stretched. What they are providing for the rehabilitation of handicapped children is just not good enough. Only the Federal Government is in a position adequately to finance these sorts of services. It has control of about 80% of fund raising by public authorities. It ought to be accepting a responsibility.

Krupinski, among others, writing in a survey on 'Mental Retardation Amongst Victorian Children' in 1966 pointed out that between 1946 and 1953 of those children diagnosed as mentally retarded before the age of 11 years, 2.7% of males and 3.2% of females were diagnosed as such under 2 years of age, and after 7 years of age and up to 11 years of age 70% of males and 60% of females were so diagnosed. Why was not a diagnosis made earlier? . This seems to raise pertinent questions which are important to policy. If the diagnosis is made earlier, a more adequate arrangement can be made for the services which will be required in the community. Quite clearly, not all children in this category can be diagnosed. But surely to goodness a greater percentage than 2.7%. of males and 3.2% of females in fact could be diagnosed under the age of 2 years.

I wish to quote now from the Third Interim Report of the New South Wales Health Advisory Council on Intellectually Handicapped Persons. The Council recommended in its report:

(a)   Routine testing for biochemical abnormalities due to inborn errors of metabolism should be undertaken at birth in obstetric hospitals, or at the first visit to a well baby clinic.

(b)   Efforts should be made to impress upon all those likely to encounter intellectually handicapped infants and young children of the importance of early diagnosis, and to provide, where necessary, training in the recognition of those symptoms and signs which suggest subnormality.

Why do we shirk a responsibility here? I know that we are moving into an area of State responsibility. I am not a State rightist. I am not a centralist. My philosophy is one of co-operation between the various tiers of government. I do not care who has the power just as long as the responsibilities are discharged in our community and that the job which has to be done for the Australian public is done. This is the main challenge before us. The Federal Government has the money. It ought to accept the responsibility.

While I am talking about this subject, I wish to quote from an article by Gunnar Dybwad entitled 'New Advances in the Field of Mental Retardation*. He says:

Everywhere I travel, and Australia has been no exception, there is plentiful evidence of the fact that all too many physicians do not inform parents at all that their child was at or soon after birth recognised to be mentally retarded. Others inform parents that their child is backward but should grow out of it. Some physicians go to the other extreme and, particularly in cases of mongolism, paint an entirely unjustifiable dark and dismal picture of the child as a total idiot, unable to function even in the simplest life tasks, and urge immediate and total separation from the mother and admission to an institution. lt seems that there is a public responsibility on the part of our authorities to educate physicians so that this sort of unhappy reaction on their part can be obviated. But once having achieved this, or concurrently anyway with such a programme, great virtues would be found in establishing a register in which handicapped children could be registered at birth. Not only the mentally retarded but also other handicapped children would be registered and then handicaps identified. As I mentioned earlier, this would permit an assessment of future needs and allow the development of policy pretty well in line with the sort of projections which could be made from the details disclosed in the register.

We must go beyond educating doctors, too. We must train others to recognise the symptoms of handicap, especially mental retardation. We must train school teachers, who might otherwise ignore, not recognise or even over-react to, symptoms of pupils and so contribute to the late maturing of these children and add to their problems of transmission into an adult society. Mental retardation is a widespread problem in our community. We need better information so that we can discuss this subject here. Talking about a subsidy of $2 for every $1 of capital expenditure or of expenditure on special equipment is not the way to get an informed attitude on the nature and extent of mental retardation in the community. More than 400 different types of mental retardation are known. The cause of 50% of those types is unknown. Many mentally retarded children have multiple handicaps. For instance, they may be blind or spastic or perhaps deaf. These multiple handicaps project into our thought the need for more comprehensive policies than could possibly be considered just by a general reference to the state of mental retardation.

The challenges which are before us in considering this Bill are complex. The measure does nothing more than tinker at the periphery of what is essentially a very important and crucial problem in this age. The extent to which we are prepared to answer the challenge of handicapped children in our community will be the measure of the humanitarian values which exist in our society. The measurement of our concern, as gauged by the Bill before us, shows that it is very slight indeed.

The incidence of mental retardation in the United States of America is 10 times greater than the incidence of diabetes. 20 times greater than the incidence of tuberculosis, and 600 times greater than the incidence of poliomyelitis. That is the extent of mental retardation. We have made progress in the other fields that I have mentioned, that is, diabetes, tuberculosis and poliomyelitis. Is it not about time that we started to make more progress in the field of mental retardation? As I mentioned, more than 400 different types of mental retardation are known and in 50% of those cases the cause is unknown. It is this field in which we ought to be spending the money which presently the Government is pouring away on the Fill and other forms of extravagance.

More fundamental and applied research into the nature and needs of handicapped children in this community is required. Wc need to develop ancillary services such as diagnostic services, parent counselling, domestic help, nursing assistance, preschool transport assistance, visiting teacher services, emergency housekeeper services - a most essential part of any meaningful programme - special financial assistance, taxation concessions and the special development of employment services. The employment services provided by the Department of Labour and National Service for handicapped people - let alone young people with disabilities - are a complete failure. I wish to quote from a reply given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) to a question upon notice asked by me concerning the courses which are provided for these people who are supposed to be specialists in fitting handicapped people into employment. The Minister said:

Courses vary in length according to subject matter, but are usually of 3 or 4 days duration.

Does anyone believe that a student or a Commonwealth public servant would learn much in 3 or 4 days about this complex field of handicap in the community? It is utter nonsense to talk about these employment officers being equipped through special training to fit people into employment.

What is the assessment of this position by an overseas expert? 1 refer again to Gunnar Dybwad and his wife Rosemary and the report which was submitted by them to the Australian Council for the Mentally Retarded. What are the views of these overseas experts in this field? Let me quote them:

But we were disappointed because so much that was good remained isolated; because of the persistence of negative attitudes towards the problem of mental retardation in general; disappointed because of persistence of outdated, long-disproven beliefs regarding the assumed limitations in the functioning of the mentally retarded; disappointed because of the gross differences in quality and availability of services between the States, and often within the States, as well as between cities and regions; disappointed because of the inadequate response from the Federal Government.

That is the view of two overseas experts - not people with a political axe to grind if that is the way in which my approach might be interpreted, but people who, out of human compassion and because of their professional training, are concerned about the welfare of the mentally retarded. What they say completely parallels what I have been saying. Referring to education, I now want to quote from the 15th Annual Report of the Queensland Subnormal Children's Welfare Association. I do so as an illustration for the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who thinks that the Bill before the Parliament means something to handicapped children. The report states:

The education of children is a society responsi bility and therefore a Government responsibility - whether the child happens to have an IQ of 40 or 140, and in this so-called age of enlightenment it should not be necessary to have to justify such a statement. Suffice to say that at present, society, through its government is making provision for the education of subnormal children on the cheap.

That is what the Government is doing today. It is skating out of its responsibility. It is getting out of it the cheap way. It is providing $2 for$1 without any investigation to ascertain what should be provided. It is buying off its conscience in that manner. Is that the measure of the human compassion which motivates the social welfare policy of the Government? If it is then this is far from being a fully civilised society.

According to the third interim report of the New South Wales Health Advisory Council there are 14,750 handicapped children in that State yet there are only a little over 3,000 facilities provided for them. I ask the Minister for Social Services whether he feels satisfied with what the Government is now proposing. The problem is not expenditure in the field of capital commitment; it is the recurrent expenditure on education, on providing the services of experts, paramedical specialists or even visiting medical specialists where this sort of aid for the rehabilitation of handicapped children is provided. What is so galling and revolting is that someone has to stand out in the street every year, holding a tin can and rattling it under the nose of people passing by for a miserable 20c and the occasional insult that goes with it. This is a wealthy society and we are capable of providing these sorts of things from Consolidated Revenue. It is quite unfair to expect that the money to support these programmes should be provided by those people alone who are prepared to pay. This is an obligation for the total society. We ought to spread the burden equitably within society, so that people will pay according to their means. The appropriate way to raise this sort of money is through taxation. Any other answer or solution which the Minister or his Government might like to put forward is an evasion of the real issue before us. It means that we are ignoring a group of people who have a grave and compelling need, one which cannot be ignored morally in this community.

What are the needs of deaf children? 1 do not know what they are but on the surface it seems that we are not doing as much as we should. In 1968 in Australia, of the total number of school children 1 in every 618 was attending a special centre for the training of deaf children. In Great Britain, admittedly in 1963 - the figures probably have improved since, so quoting the earlier figure will not be to the advantage of the Government - the ratio was 1 to 438. In New Zealand in 1966 it was 1 to 570. This seems to indicate that probably there are deaf children in Australia who need this sort of training and are not getting it. I do not know for sure but the figures seem to indicate this. I do not think there would be such a great divergence between the situation in Great Britain and that in Australia. I should not think that there would be such a tremendously greater number of deaf children in that country than here. We do not know but we are entitled to know if we are to discuss the sort of measure now before us. We need to develop special postschool practical employment classes for deaf children. Because of language retardation these children have real problems in absorbing theoretical concepts when training for employment.

I want to move quickly to the situation of autistic children. I thank the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) for information he provided on this subject. He has a special interest ;n autistic children and wants to see something done for them. In Queensland the conservative estimate is that there are 140 autistic children. In fact the authoritative people who operate the autistic centre - non-government authorities - know of only 50 such children under 14 years of age. Where are the other 90, or 100 or perhaps 80 children? If they are not located and given special training at a special centre which is essential for autistic children they will become lifelong inhabitants of mental institutions. It would be a more real approach for us to discuss this problem, in a debate on handicapped children generally, than to buy off our consciences by providing $2 for $1 of capital expenditure.

I want to advert to the point I made earlier about recurrent expenditures and the burden of them on the people who voluntarily accept the responsibility in our society of operating centres for the rehabilitation of these children. The ratio of teacher to pupil at autistic training centres is 1 for 1. Clearly the greatest problem lies in maintaining the salary cost structure. Salaries for the Queensland centre cost $10,000 a year. The authorities at that centre bought the building for $10,500 and spent about $2,000 on improvements. Those were once only payments. They certainly will be very happy to accept the grant proposed by the Government. But this legislation does not face up to their long term problem of finding SI 0,000 each year for salaries. And what will happen if they discover the other two-thirds of the total number of autistic children that they think are living in Queensland? They will need another 520,000 at least, probably more if they are going to extend their services within the centre to these children and maintain their operations. These people have a special need for transport services. 1 turn now to crippled children and the lack of integration, of meshing of the services provided. This gives concern to those responsible for their welfare. The Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults, in its 1969 report, stated:

Our Society has always been concerned with the disabled person as a 'total human being' and has always felt dismayed by the fragmentation of the different aspects of his care. ... the hospitals have the major concern of medical care, the Education Department the primary focus of education, the Commonwealth Social Service Department is established for payments of benefits and medical and vocational rehabilitation and the Department of Labour and National Service is responsible mainly for employment. Between all these areas of operation there is no-one responsible for seeing that a consistent total plan is formulated and implemented.

This comes back to the amendment I proposed on behalf of the Opposition which has been endorsed by honourable members on this side of the House. Namely, that we have to integrate the resources of the Federal Gevernment, the State governments, the local authorities and the voluntary organisations. We have to regionalise the activities of these groups so that this sort of gapping and overlapping can be avoided; so that there will be adequate funds available for the mobilisation and the maintenance of meaningful campaigns and policies for handicapped children. To try to approach this problem otherwise is to court what must be failure in the final result.

The Australian Labor Party accepts this responsibility. It would provide the sort of finance required to overcome the present deficiencies in this area. It would seek to co-ordinate the activities of each of the tiers of government and the non-official bodies currently involved in assistance for handicapped children. After having made these criticisms I ask: ls $2 for $1 as far as this

Government is prepared to go? Is this just how good its help to handicapped kiddies is to be? What is its disjointed and uneven approach to welfare programmes for handicapped children achieving? Is it because of regional failings, missing some who have a need? Perhaps no residential accommodation is provided at training centres where their particular handicap is met and they thus miss out. ls this the sort of thing the Government is prepared to tolerate? If is not even discussing it. Is it going to create a sub-culture for some who are segregated out of sheer frustrating necessity because Government interest and funds are so meagre in too many instances?

Frankly 1 do not accept the proposition, explicit in the Minister's second reading speech, that by providing this capital subsidy State governments will be relieved of some of their current cost burden and will be able to redirect funds into other areas of policy for handicapped children. They may. I hope they do. What is being provided is gravely inadequate for what is required in the community. The amount of money which is to be released will merely be a grain of salt in the great ocean of challenge in this area. I wonder whether they will all face up to this moral challenge that the Minister has thrown out to them to divert the money released into handicapped children services in other areas.

In Queensland it is notorious that when the Federal Government provided age pensions for those people in mental institutions the State Government immediately moved in and charged those people rent and board for occupation of the premises and it did not divert the money released in this way into increased benefits, welfare services or activities in the mental, institutions. But rather it directed this money into the sum total of Consolidated Revenue for the State. One could be astringently critical of the State government for doing this, but on the other hand one must temper one's criticisms with the appreciation that the tasks and responsibilities foisted on the State governments today are far beyond the financial resources available to them and that these challenges and these responsibilities can be adequately discharged only by the Federal Government to the satisfaction of the community and as a measurement of the humanitarianism which motivates our society. We criticise strongly the inadequacies of the proposal now before us.







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