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Thursday, 22 October 1964

Senator COHEN (Victoria) . - I wish to pursue very briefly the matter that I raised concerning research and its relationship to the matters referred to by Senator Ormonde. I am wondering whether the results of the Department's discoveries in the survey work and research work mentioned by the Minister could be made public in some way. There is a widespread feeling, certainly amongst voluntary welfare organisations, that there is a need for a national stimulus, or for some direction and initiative from the Government in welfare matters. In one of the serious comments that have been made upon the whole problem of poverty in Australia, it has been suggested that there is a reluctance on the part of the Government to make this information available.

I desire to quote briefly from an article written by Mr. R. G. Brown, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Studies in the University of Adelaide. It is entitled " Poverty in Australia " and was published in the " Australian Quarterly " of June 1963. The article states -

More information is needed about how people on low incomes live and what their problems are. Some has been gathered by government departments. For example, the Commonwealth Department of Social Services has conducted sample surveys of its beneficiaries to determine their resources, and the Commonwealth Department of Health has undertaken inquiries into the composition of the group who arc not enrolled for medical and hospital benefits (and who might well include a considerable number of large families on low incomes). But it has not been Commonwealth policy to publish this sort of information. Since there are no reasons such as national security which may be thought important enough to prevent publication, the assumption must be that it is withheld on political grounds.

Is there any specific reason for withholding publication of these reports? If there is not, will the Minister consider arranging for their publication in some suitable form?

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