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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2366


Mr STALEY (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - Will the Minister for Social Security consider removing the 16-year-old qualifying age with respect to invalid pensions in order to provide relief for families who hear the immense physical, psychological and financial burdens of caring for their severely handicapped or retarded children at home?


Mr HAYDEN (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Social Security) - I appreciate the honourable member's concern about this matter. It is a concern that I have shared for many years. I believe that something must be done, but I am not sure exactly what. I do not think the answer lies merely in eliminating the age barrier of 16 years in relation to invalid pensions. To do this would mean, for instance, treating an infant of very tender years on exactly the same basis as one would treat an adult invalid pensioner, and to that extent there would seem to be some anomaly. It seems to me that other areas need to be explored in this regard. In fact, I am carrying out a survey to establish the best way in which some sort of financial attendance support can be provided to assist parents or responsible people with a commitment for an invalid infant. The sort of thing I have in mind would be much broader than something merely for invalid children. But all I can say at this time is that it is a policy matter. Of course, the timing for its implementation has to be judged in the context of all the other commitments we will have from time to time. I conclude by saying that I hope we can do something fairly early.







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