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Wednesday, 14 October 1970


Mr HAYDEN - There seems to be a good case for adopting some sort of training programme for the management of these establishments. I have it on good authority that there have been instances of very well meaning people - of this there is no doubt - managing some of these establishments who, because of a lack of business experience, have been responsible for bad judgment in quoting prices for the services the establishments' have offered to outside industry. I have listed some of these queries. I look forward to the Minister - and I know he will - giving me an explanation and perhaps an opinion, especially on that latter point, when he replies to me later. But I make the criticism quite strongly that this is another example of a disjointed approach to the provision of social welfare service in Australia. There is a need for overall and long term planning of these services. There is an obligation for public involvement in the development of these plans and in discussion of them and, as a result of such discussion, for any necessary amendment being built into the plans. Leonard W. Mayo, of the Association for Aid of Crippled Children in the United States, made a statement a few years ago on this point. He stated:

The time has passed when new rehabilitation services can be established or present ones expanded without a thorough look in advance at the rehabilitation needs of the community to be served. The need for planning and co-ordination (orderly arrangement of services) ... is a continuing necessity. Institutions in society, like individuals, are dynamic - never static. . . .

Accordingly, I endorse the view that he has expressed and state with emphasis that we have a positive and urgent need in Australia to have this sort of planning not only because we want to use our economic resources efficiently but also because, on the basis of human values, we want to make sure that what we are providing meets the need according to an established priority and is going into areas of greatest need and not to areas of lesser need.

There is clear evidence, on the face of what one can ascertain, that there is a need for planning in the area of aid or rehabilitation services for the handicapped and the disadvantaged because from what one can see in this area alone in which we are interested, that of sheltered workshops, there are grave imbalances. For example, New South Wales, which has 36 per cent of the population of the Commonwealth, employs 68 per cent of disabled people in sheltered workshop employment. 1 am well aware that New South Wales had a good start in this field ahead of the other States and has been more generous in this respect in the past. But this is not the point. The point is that there is a general need for this type of service in the community.

Of the total number of the disabled work force in sheltered workshop employment, 68 per cent are in that form of employment in New South Wales. In contrast, Queensland, with 14 per cent of the Commonwealth's population, has less than 6 per cent of the disabled people in sheltered workshop employment. If one looks at the 5 States other than New South Wales, which between them have slightly more than 62 per cent of the Commonwealth's population, one finds that they have slightly less than 40 per cent of these disabled people employed in sheltered workshops. Again, if one looks at the allocation of finance under this Act, one discovers that a tremendously disproportionate amount of money, much greater than the amount that goes to the other States, goes to New South Wales. Nearly 50 per cent of the total amount allocated between June 1970 and September 1970 went to New South Wales. According to a telegram I received from the Department of Social Services in reply to a query I raised, New South Wales received $2. 29m of Commonwealth assistance, Victoria received SI. 08m, Queensland received only $419,000, Western Australia with a considerably smaller population received $654,000. and Tasmania received $236,000. South Australia is not mentioned. I presume that it did not receive any allocation in that period. But in any event, on the basis of this sort of evidence that I am quoting, New South Wales is doing very well under this legislation, and the people responsible for promoting these, services are to be commended.

But it does show also that there are serious imbalances in the provision, of these services. For instance, the rule of thumb that the Department of Social Services works . on, according to officers to whom 1 have spoken, is that 0.5 per cent of the population is estimated to be in the area of . handicapped people. But by looking at the figures in a survey carried out by the Department of Social Services in 1968 into handicapped workshops, one discovers that less than 0.003 per cent of the nation's population then participated in sheltered workshop employment, so we are a- long way behind the estimated level of people who have this sort of need. The estimate is one on which the Department works. I would not expect us to reach the full extent of this estimated level, but to get half way there would at least indicate to me that we are progressing well towards the optimum level we can expect to achieve. But 0.003 per cent of the population clearly falls well short of this sort of achievement. Again I would appreciate a fuller analysis of the facts of the Commonwealth's extension of its commitment to social welfare services where there is already a State commitment. But as far as 1 can see the situation, when the Commonwealth increases its commitment to social welfare services for which the States have already accepted a commitment the tendency is for the States to withdraw commensurately. This to me indicates that progress in total is not as great as it would seem on the face of the sort of evidence that the Government puts before us.

As I said a short time ago, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service is related to this overall concept, because 1 daresay that many people who go there eventually seek the advantages of working in a sheltered workshop. The Commonwealth sheltered workshop service is a service in the community about which I have some qualifications. First of all, for the year just completed, the number of people who graduated from training in the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service was only 2.4 per cent of the new invalid pensioners. It seems to me that this is somewhat short of what we would hope to achieve with a fairly effective service. 1 said that 1 have qualifications about this service. My qualifications in no way can be interpreted as a criticism of the quality and dedication of the people the Department employs in this service, but rather are they to the effect that the service tends to be somewhat remote from many sections of the community. It tends to be somewhat distant from an important point where, for many people, rehabilitation service ought to commence. That is in the hospital.

Recently, f bad the good fortune to visit Sweden, among other countries of the world. I saw al the Danderid hospital the approach of the Swedish people to this sort of service. In that hospital they provided the sort of rehabilitation service which the Commonwealth provides at the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. Not only is this provided at the Danderid hospital but it is provided at ali the hospitals which serve the Swedish community. Their hospitals are established on a regionalised basis with health centres focussing in on them from various sections of the community. Within the public hospital service itself there is a comprehensive range of services; pediatric, geriatric and psychiatric services as well as the general services of surgery and physical support which a hospital normally provides. These hospitals go further. A range of vocational and occupational rehabilitation services is provided in the hospitals. As .quickly as possible after they are admitted to hospital these people commence their training because the Swedes believe - this view is supported by a number of medical authorities in this country involved in rehabilitation and training for the handicapped - that it is necesary to make contact with people, especially accident victims,' as quickly as possible after the accident, to move them into these rehabilitation centres as promptly as possible and to get their confidence restored before the traumatic shock of their experience has settled into them and created some sort of inertia or resistance to the sort of training which rehabilitation services hope to achieve. lt would seem to me then that many of these rehabilitation services ought to be developed within hospital services. Not all of them can be, of course, but many of them could and should be. This would mean a diminished role for the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service as it presently operates. Indeed, 1 propose in a few minutes to suggest that the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service as it operates anyway ought to be phased out in favour of an expansion of community welfare services. But before moving on to that aspect I finally mention the case of business loans available under the aegis of the Department of Social Services. Since 1955 only 5 such loans have been provided. The provision is for a loan of $200 which the Federal Government wil provide at an interest rate of 4i per cent per annum. This level of $200 was struck in 1955 and has not been increased since. If it had been adjusted according to the movement in the cost of living it ought to be $583 at the present time. But even this is not sufficient to help these people.

In Ontario, Canada, I had the opportunity of discussing with people involved in social welfare services their approach to this sort of assistance for people who have received injuries and have to go back into the work force. They had just provided authorisation for a grant of several thousands of dollars to a former lumber man who had been injured in a work accident and had had a leg amputated. This was to set him up with capital and plant in a new industry after rehabilitation training. There is no requirement at all on this man to repay this money. This seems to me a far more reasonable, more rational and more advanced approach to rehabilitation services and compensation in a modern industrial society than the present system which we have, especially in relation to workers compensation which seems to be as much conceived on the basis of the gambler's roulette wheel as on any other sort of principle. The Labor Party's proposal is to set up, as I have mentioned many times before, regional departments of social welfare harnessing the co-operative support of the State governments, local authorities and voluntary agencies. For this purpose we propose to provide special grants. These regionalised departments would co-ordinate services and give a rational pattern to the supply of services according to identified needs and according to priorities. Of course, we would seek to avoid duplication, to eliminate gaps and to provide a continuing and comprehensive range of services conveniently accessible and bearing direct personal relationship with the community being served.

We aim at achieving this by community involvement in the general decision making and operation of these programmes through the regional department. An assential part of the department's services will be an office of occupational and vocational rehabilitation developing, refining and constantly upgrading the quality of a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for the area served. The programme would support the work of voluntary and public agencies in encouraging the expansion of their services to plug the gaps. The programme would seek to develop the following minimum services: Prevention, case finding and outreach; comprehensive vocational evaluation; physical and mental restoration; personal adjustment training - prevocational; vocational training; vocationaltechnical education; undergraduate and professional education; transitional and extended sheltered employment; vocational placement and follow-up; day care for adults; personal counselling; social and recreational programmes; special housing; transportation; homebound employment; homemaking, attendant, and other services in the home; and consultation to agencies.

We do not propose to restrict this merely to disabled people. This ought to be available also to those people who can be defined as disadvantaged within the community. They too have a need. There is a responsibility on us to provide these sorts of services. Within the overall concept which I am proposing the programme would be administered by a director for disabled and disadvantaged services and this programme would, of course, involve the provision of sheltered workshops in the community. It seems to me that there is an obligation on us here in the Federal Parliament as well as those in the State governments, local authorities and voluntary agencies to see that according to the established needs of the community there are sheltered workshops available. It is completely unacceptable to me that we have to depend on someone running around rattling a tin can to obtain donations from generous members of the public who, frankly, are a minority and who are, all too often, the people who are continuously carrying the burden of these services, that is, they voluntarily carry an unfair proportion of taxes for public services in the community. So according to a plan the capital establishments ought to be set up. Then we could use the services of a voluntary committee to operate these workshops within the community.

We have to ensure - and it is a public responsibility for the regionalised departments of social welfare - that the staff serving these sheltered workshops are adequately trained and that where they should be professional people they are in fact professional people. Well meaning people can do a good job in social welfare, but in those areas where they have some particular ability to serve the people. But well meaning people who do not have this ability, who are motivated perhaps by maudling sentimentality where a practical and rational approach is required, can do more harm than good. What the Labor Party does is to spurn the piecemeal blight which affects Government thinking in welfare services. Where there is a clear public need, as there patently is in rehabilitation services, we accept an inalienable public responsibility to provide those needed services. To accept anything less than this is to deny the basic right of all individuals to human dignity and to civilised respect as human beings. To ignore this ukase is to flaunt fundamental Christian principles and the essential values of humanism.







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