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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2660

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - I think there will probably be a need for more marriage guidance counselling. Some of this, of course, will be done around the court and, if the proposals are accepted by the Committee, it will be done not only when a marriage has reached the point of dissolution but prior to that. I think the provision made in this year's Appropriation Bill is a common sense one. I indicated that there had been a very considerable increase over the last couple of years- much more than would be accounted for by inflation. I have increased the amounts pretty substantially. I can obtain figures for the honourable senator but, speaking off the top of my head, the appropriation has gone up from approximately $500,000 to approximately $800,000 and now to $1,227,000. There is a limit to the way in which these bodies can expand sensibly. As Senator Guilfoyle pointed out, there is a dearth of capable people in this field. The situation is not met simply by providing money. We need to train people, and there is competition from other areas for social welfare workers and people who would be capable of operating in this field.

Senator Bessell - Do you think there may be a need for some type of regulatory program with regard to a contribution by these organisations from their own resources?

Senator MURPHY - It may well be that the grant should be conditional on a contribution by the bodies. The approval of an organisation can be subject to conditions. Under clause 1 1 there may be the means of doing what the senator suggests. Clause 1 1 states:

The Attorney-General may, from time to time, out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of this Part, grant to an approved marriage counselling organisation, upon such conditions as he thinks fit, such sums by way of financial assistance as he determines.

It may be that without any further regulation the condition might be made in a sensible and common sense way that moneys be contributed or the organisation raise so much money as a percentage so that it can start to obtain funds. In some cases clearly more moneys could be made available to them. I will look into the matter.

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