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Brass tacks for the handicapped

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FOR PRESS : 1014


Statement by the Minister for Social Services, The Hon, H, S. Roberton.

The Federal Government is down to brass tacks in its plans

to rehabilitate handicapped Australians into industry,

And it is interested in costume jewellery, fountain pen caps,

plastic bags and jig-saw puzzles.

They are all part of scientific "laboratory testing",for

future careers. The Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service is carrying

cut these tests with handicapped men and women.

Making brass tacks, for example, can give a clue to a person’s

concentration and capacity for repetitive work. Producing costume

jewellery can also give indications of employment leanings.

And at the same time, the brass tacks and the costume

jewellery are useful articles.

Some firms and Government agencies are co-operating with the

Rehabilitation Service in its programme of job testing in

Rehabilitation Centres,

These organisations find the handicapped make a first class

job of assembling and packaging, and that spoilage is at a very

low rate in any work done.

They are happy to contibute to the vocational training of

the rehabilitees and they also offer goods or services for any

work done,

Whilst the quantities of goods involved are small, the range

is becoming impressive, both inside the Rehabilitation Service,

and in other organisations which are employing the same techniques

in helping disabled people.

Over recent months, rehabilitees, as part of their vocational

training projects, have :

Assembled 35,000 small cartons

assembled 10,000 jig-saw puzzle leaflets

Made a score of open-front cupboards.

In addition to pleasing the firms concerned, the work sky­

rocketed the morale of the handicapped men and women.

If their work has value, they develop a new outlook, for they

see they can do a job as well as outside workers.

This development inside the Rehabilitation Service is proving

a ,valuable supplement to more orthodox tests of a m a n ’s ability.

Screwing nuts onto bolts, for example, might measure a m a n ’s

capacity for repetitive assembly work. On the other hand, the'

apparent pointlessness of much of the work could make some men

lose interest and slow down their output, a false picture of their

ability could be given the Rehabilitation staff.


Rehabilitation officials, anxious to bring a wider range

of jobs and experiences to their charges are now investigating

such test projects as wire cutting and stripping, attaching plugs

and sockets to cords, assembling switches and making up small

metal doors. These could be handled in the finely equipped

Rehabilitation Centres in every mainland State.

Such jobs also enable observers to judge a handicapped

person's re-action to :

• Noise and, sometimes, dirt.

• Supervision and discipline.

• Working with other people,

• Sustained output.

. Long periods of concentration.

They thus give a wealth of vocational evidence to

Commonwealth Employment Service and Rehabilitation officials.

Officials are able to offer industry "tried and proven"

handicapped workers, whose abilities have often been assessed

more strictly than the great majority of workers.


December 13. 1959 - P.M