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Monday, 16 September 1985
Page: 572

Senator MISSEN(5.11) —I support what Senator Haines has said. The report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies should be studied by all honourable senators. What Senator Haines has said is correct; we are generally looking at the wrong side of things. At a time when one would expect the Institute of Family Studies and its work to be recognised and more appreciated, one finds that at present an internal review is being conducted by an officer of the Department of Finance and an officer of the Attorney-General's Department. This review has been criticised in the report as being far from adequate. Moreover, it is thought that the Institute might be amalgamated with other bodies so that it would be, supposedly, more effective than ever.

If one reads the report one finds most alarming things. For example, administrative expenses are being reduced this year by more than 40 per cent and the Institute is still expected to carry on its work. As Senator Haines has said, this will probably be the last report as the Institute will be unable to present reports with that sort of expenditure. In relation to amalgamation, the report states:

In essence, amalgamation or reduction in resources is tantamount to abolition.

There are plenty of ill-informed people in this community who complain about the amount of money which is spent on single parent families, yet we only have to go back to 1980 when the Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act recommended that there should be a sensible system for the collection of maintenance. That matter was left in the hands of committees of public servants and was never attended to. People now complain that it is costing a lot of money. The people who make the complaints should realise that something should have been done a few years ago and that we have had excellent recommendations in the past.

The Institute of Family Studies is investigating the real cause of family breakdown and the real problems that are arising. When the Joint Committee met, it did not have the ability to investigate many of these matters because the Institute of Family Studies was not formed for some years after it was created under the Act. We have gone constantly in a penny-pinching way towards this subject failing to realise that we should be looking at the essence of the matter and making use of the studies which are being carried out.

I support very strongly what Senator Haines has said. I hope that the Government will respond. It did not respond at all to the remarks I made on a recent report on this subject. It decided that silence is the easiest way out. If we keep pushing this matter forward and asserting the fact that this is not the right way to go about things, perhaps even the Government might listen.