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Thursday, 22 October 1964


Senator BREEN (Victoria) .- I Would like to ask the Minister a question relating to Division No. 475, sub-division 1, item 01 in respect of regional offices, ft seems to me to be most essential that services equal to those in metropolitan areas should be made available in country areas in all States of the Commonwealth. I read with interest in the report of the Department of Social Services that there are now 23 regional offices established throughout Australia. The work of the Department is being decentralised, apparently, in two stages, the first dealing with pension claims and the second dealing with the granting of maternity allowances and child endowment benefits. I seems that, in the first stage, 18 of the proposed 23 regional offices are in operation in regard to pension claims, the exceptions being Sale in Victoria, Cairns and Mackay in Queensland, Port Pirie in South Australia and Launceston in Tasmania. In addition to the five I have just mentioned, the offices in Newcastle and Armidale in New South Wales are unable to deal with maternity allowances and child endowment benefits.

It is obvious that this service is giving tremendous help, particularly to those who are claiming maternity allowances. Maternity allowance and child endowment benefit facilities have in the last year been made available in Canberra, Lismore in New South Wales, Hamilton in Victoria, and in Toowoomba and Townsville in Queensland and, by the operation of these new facilities, help is being given to 142,000 women. I ask the Minister whether the increase in the appropriation from £2,566,500 in 1963-64 to £2,632,000 in 1964-65 will enable staff to be employed at those centres which are not operating in those two stages so that, in the forthcoming 12 months, they will be able to do so.







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