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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4579

Mr Grassby asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that throughout Australia there irc 10,000 schoolchildren unable to participate in the free milk scheme because of distance and supply difficulties.

(2)   Has his attention been drawn to the statement by the New South Wales Minister for Education indicating that 400 schools are not in receipt of free milk for those reasons.

(3)   Is it a fact that the children denied free milk are in areas where because of remoteness they face dietary difficulties.

(4)   Will he and the Minister for Health, review the position with a view to using citrus juice as an alternative to milk where milk supplies are not available to the disadvantaged children.

Mr Sinclair - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (3) According to information provided to the Department of Health. by authorities in the States and Territories which arrange the distribution of free milk to school children approximately 157,000 eligible children did not participate in the scheme during 1970-71. It is not known by that Department how many of these children not receiving free milk at school were unable to do sio because of distance and supply difficulties. However, where, because of remoteness, bottled pasteurised milk is not available provision has been made in the Commonwealth agreement with the States for other forms of milk such as powdered or reduced milk to be supplied to school children.

(2)   In reply to a question in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in May this year the New South Wales Minister for Education and Science stated that 125 schools in New South Wales do not receive free milk under the free milk scheme. This represented 2.939 children or 0.4% of the overall primary school population eligible to participate in the scheme.

(4)   Prior to the introduction of the States Grants (Milk for School Children) Act limited school milk schemes were in operation in several States and it was decided that the extension of these schemes would be an effective means of promoting the health of children through improved nutrition, lt was considered that milk as an 'all round' food best served this purpose. Prom time to time, consideration has been given to proposals that, fruit juice be supplied to school children in lieu of milk but it has been decided on each occasion not to extend the scope of the Act beyond the supply of milk.

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