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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2395

Mr Snedden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   How many handicapped persons are currently employed in the Public Service.

(2)   What has been the average period of employment of these persons.

(3)   How many of them are employed in the clerical/administrative area, and in which Division and at what level or class.

(4)   What percentage of the total clerical/administrative staff do they represent.

(5)   How many handicapped persons sought employment in the Public Service between November 1972 and June 1973.

(6)   How many of these have been granted employment.

(7)   What were the corresponding figures in respect of parts (5) and (6) for the period November 1971 to June 1972,

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

(1)   to (7) I am advised by the Public Service Board that the question of employment opportunities for the handicapped was considered by the Boyer Committee in 1958. In its report, the committee recommended, amongst other things, that:

The Board should review the general medical standards at present prescribed under the Act, in order to eliminate any requirements which would automatically preclude the appointment of handicapped persons who might be quite capable of giving efficient service in certain positions.

In 1962, in keeping with the Boyer Committee's recommendations, the Government approved a Public Service Board recommendation to relax medical standards for permanent appointment. Those admittedat a lower medical standard contributed to the Provident Account.

In May 1971 the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare recommended that:

Commonwealth and State Public Service Boards and private industry carefully re-examine their policies regarding the employment of handicapped persons, remove any discrimination against their employment and place more handicapped people in appropriate positions.'

In October 1972 the Government, on the recommendation of the Public Service Board, approved a further relaxation in medical standards. Again an amendment to Provident Account requirements was accepted.

Between May 1962 and June 1973 16,148 persons were accepted as contributors to the Provident Account, which is indicative of the number of handicapped people recruited to the Public Service.

The Public Service Board has reported that, in addition, officers who become handicapped during their service are, as far as possible, maintained in employment. Some officers who must be retired on the grounds of invalidity later become sufficiently restored to health to return to full-time employment and are reappointed.

The Public Service Board has informed me that it employs a large number of persons who could be considered as being handicapped in some way. No distinction is made between these and other employees except that some of them contribute to the Provident Account. As a consequence comprehensive statistics on handicapped employees are not available.

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