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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 166

Senator ELSTOB —My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, refers to the family income supplement. Is the Minister aware that there are still many low income families unaware of the family income supplement? Is there at present any new initiative within the Department of Social Security to alert more low income families of the financial assistance available to them? Has any consideration been given to co-ordinating an information program with State housing authorities whereby families receiving rental assistance can receive notice of the supplement?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Elstob says, the family income supplement take-up rate has been low. It has been low ever since the scheme was introduced. This has been worrying to the Government. It worried me when I was Minister for Social Security and it is now worrying Mr Howe. It seems that schemes such as this always suffer from this difficulty. The take-up rate is low, first of all, because of inadequacy of information. Secondly, I suppose some people are a bit put off by the paperwork or the necessity to give information under these circumstances. I recall that last year the Government tried to provide more information at the work place by means, I believe, of publicity through trade unions. It also tried to provide publicity at places where people meet frequently. I think that an attempt was made to do this at neighbourhood houses, et cetera. I do not know what has happened in recent times. I will certainly find out for the honourable senator. However, certainly his idea of a co-ordinated approach, using the communication facilities of housing authorities, seems to me to be a very sensible one. I will let Senator Elstob know when I have communicated with the Minister for Social Security.