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Wednesday, 14 June 1989
Page: 4025


Senator JENKINS(7.11) —I ask the Minister for Consumer Affairs (Senator Bolkus): When will the Government respond to the House of Representatives report on the quality of service provided by the Department of Social Security? There is some anxiety in the community about the administration of the Department. In Western Australia a person committed suicide recently as a direct result of a lack of sensitivity by the Department. The Department, which had ceased paying him unemployment benefit, said in response to a letter from him that it could not find his file. After that tragic event the Department conceded that the standard letter should not have been sent out to this person without the approval of the manager of the benefits section. An undertaking was given by the regional manager concerned that he would ensure that good telephone techniques were used and that cases which involved distressed clients would be referred to welfare staff who would be trained to deal with such situations. That is just one example; there are others. However, I will not take the time of the Committee to mention them.