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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 966

Senator MARTIN (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Is he aware that the recent statement by the Minister for Social Security, Mr Hayden, on the payment of special benefits to supporting fathers has created some confusion in the community as to the entitlement of those fathers to government assistance? Is it true that these benefits are normally available for only short periods to the father of an ill pre-school age child and then only if it is not possible to arrange any other form of care for the child, such care being entirely at his own cost? Is it also true that fathers of children suffering chronic or long term illness can obtain extended periods of payment of this benefit only in very special circumstances and that approval of the benefit can be given only by the Director-General of Social Security?

Senator WHEELDON -On 2 August the Minister for Social Security made a statement in which he said that supporting fathers who had to remain at home to care for children may be paid a special benefit by the Department of Social Security. I suppose that within our traditional male chauvinist society it did cause a little confusion that the Government was at least recognising the fact that there were men who were placed in the position, which has traditionally been ascribed to women, of having the responsibility of looking after children without the assistance of the mother of the children. Naturally criteria would have to be applied in the allowing of such assistance to the supporting fathers and clearly somebody within the Department of Social Security would have to have the responsibility of determining whether the claim were a legitimate claim and one which ought to be met by the Department. I do not know precisely what the criteria are for the awarding of such payments and it may in fact be rather difficult to neatly specify them, but I shall ask the Minister to let me have a detailed answer as to what needs to be established before such payments are made. I hope that I shall be able to obtain this before the Senate rises for the 2 weeks break or whatever it is we are going to have so that I will be able to inform the Senate. If this is not the case I will see that the information is provided to Senator Martin.

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