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Thursday, 29 May 1941

Senator COLLETT (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister without portfolio administering War Service Homes) - I recently made a statement in regard to this matter, and a report of my remarks appeared in the press. Up to the end of April, 411 discharged returned soldiers had registered for employment in the different branch offices of the Repatriation Commission, and at that date all had been placed in employment with the exception of 51. Since the inception of the scheme for assisting these men, the sum of £3,146 has been paid by way of sustenance to them whilst awaiting suitable employment. This measure of assistance, as honorable senators will be aware, is extended to men discharged after service abroad with satisfactory service records, and the measure of sustenance ranges from £2 2s. a week, in the case of single men, to £4 2s. 6d. a week for a man with a wife and three or more dependent children. In addition, the commission may provide up to £10 for the purchase of tools of trade by way of gift, and in special cases the commission may advance an additional amount up to £40 by way of loan for the same purpose. It is considered that the great majority of men who have been placed in employment will continue in their positions either permanently or for lengthy periods, subject, of course, to the usual percentage of changes common to the particular occupations in which they have been placed; but, as far as practicable, every endeavour has been made to secure for these men classes of employment which will afford every opportunity of permanency. The commission is to be highly commended for the enthusiasm it has displayed in this branch of its work. It desires to secure suitable employment for these ex-soldiers with a minimum of delay, and to this end the Deputy Commissioners report that considerable success has resulted from personal interviews with the men themselves. With the encouragement held out to them, they look upon the commission and its officers, in all of the States, as genuinely desirous of doing everything possible to enable them to take up the threads of their normal civil lives. By far the largest number of men has been registered in the New South Wales branch of the commission, where 235 had registered at the end of April, and only 27 were then awaiting employment. In Victoria 169 men had registered, and all had been placed in employment except eighteen. Honorable senators will realize that, for various reasons, it is not easy to place certain individuals in employment. Generally, however, the position is satisfactory.

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