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Thursday, 15 October 1970

Mr JACOBI (Hawker) - Is the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) aware that there is one great group, in relation to capital subsidy for workshops, that is not covered by the provisions of the 1967 Act or the new Bill? It is evident that the Department of Social Services in its Rehabilitation Service lays great emphasis on and makes provision for social and recreational facilities within Commonwealth rehabilitation centres. However, there is no provision for the establishment of social and recreational facilities in sheltered workshops. The Bill should provide for a capital subsidy to assist the establishment of social and recreational facilities in workshops, either on the site of the workshop, the site of the hostel - not just for the residents of the hostel but for the whole workshop - or on a separate site.

I wish to address my remarks to proposed new section 16b (1.) in the proposed Part IVA. I want to deal with the question of apprentices. I suggest to the Minister that there is one further item of great significance which the provisions of the proposed legislation do not cover. Here I refer to disabled or handicapped workers who are apprenticed within a workshop. The Minister must be aware that Bedford Industries in South Australia has given a lead, both in Australia and in the world, for the acceptance into sheltered workshops of disabled apprentices. The proposed provisions of the Act will clearly not encourage workshops to employ disabled apprentices because there would be no payment of the $500 to the workshop for any apprentices who are successfully placed.

As 1 understand it, the first disabled apprentice iri a sheltered workshop in Australia - and I believe in any sheltered workshop in the world - is a case in point. This is an epileptic boy who is employed at Bedford Industries as an apprentice cabinet joiner. He was indentured some 4 years ago. This boy has been paid award rates since his date of acceptance at Bedford Industries. Last year he was awarded the prize for the best all round apprentice in cabinet joinery at the trades school. Bedford Industries was approached initially by the State Secretary of the furniture trade union in South Australia to accept this boy as an apprentice as both the boy's parents and the trade union had not succeeded in getting him accepted into the furniture trade because of his epilepsy.

Obviously there should be encouragement, not discouragement, given to workshops to accept handicapped apprentices, as through apprenticeship there can be better planned career development and better payment for the handicapped worker. Of course, there is also for the Department of Social Services relief from payment of pensions, and for the community there is greater productivity. However, because this worker has never been on a pension, the provisions of the proposed legislation would prevent Bedford Industries from receiving the $500 training grant. In the whole of this young man's career, because of his effort and because of the facilities of Bedford Industries, he has never been a pensioner.

I think this is a rare case. Apprentices in sheltered workshops are obviously in the minority. Quite frankly, I think it has been an oversight on the Minister's part that provision was not included in the Bill to cover this type of contingency. I ask the Minister to ensure that the $500 subsidy is paid to workshops that accept disabled apprentices. Further in this context, will the Minister give an assurance that, where a disabled apprentice completes at least 6 months continuous employment in such a workshop, the workshop shall immediately become eligible for the $500 subsidy?

Turning to section 5 (a) of the Act I should like briefly to refer to another anomaly which concerns people who are not recipients of social service benefits but who are in recept of workers compensation, repatriation benefits or superannuation. As I understand it, the proposed legislation requires that those people who are not in receipt of an invalid pension or sheltered workshop allowance are obliged within the provisions of the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Act or alternatively the Social Services Act to be assessed as being 85 per cent incapacitated, and that such assessment must be carried out by medical officers of the Minister's Department or of the Department of Health - 1 am not sure which.

As the Minister is aware, Bedford Industries is one of the largest sheltered workshops of its type in Australia. The Minister is further aware that some 13 honorary medical consultants are attached to this workshop. On this consultative panel are Professor Cramond, Professor of Mental Health at the Adelaide University, Dr Cornish, a specialist in orthopaedics, Dr Pjumfer, Medical Director of the Heart Foundation of South Australia and Dr Norma Kent, Assistant Director of Mental Health in South Australia. The question I pose - and I seek the Minister's reply - is: Where such sheltered workshops, as in the case of Bedford Industries, have a panel of medical and specialist medical advisers, will the Minister concede that the medical staff attached to such workshops are equally competent to make an assessment as to whether a person has been disabled to the extent of 85 per cent incapacity? This would overcome the problem of these people having to attend an examination by doctors of the Minister's Department or of the Department of Health. To obligate people who are mentally or physically handicapped to be subjected to medical examination by officers of the Minister's Departmen, when such examination can be carried out at the workshop itself, is, to say the least, ludicrous, illogical and totally uneconomic. I ask the Minister to give a simple administrative instruction in order to overcome what 1 believe is an -obvious anomaly. 1 wish to draw the Minister's attention to sections 8 and 9 of the principal Act which refer to the provision of social and recreational facilities. 1 referred to this matter when f commenced my speech in the Committee stage. The Minister has stated that this is the 'decade of rehabilitation'. Surely he must concede that this field is of equal importance to that of the occupational area. I venture to state that it is basic to the whole therapeutic concept. The current capital subsidy of $2 for $1 tragically does not extend to include this field. Surely this must be treated with equal priority. I quote one example. Bedford Industries took in a boy aged 16 years who could neither read nor write. After considerable time and patience on the part of both the boy and Bedford Industries, he in fact was awarded the Handicapped Worker of the Year award. This boy, now a man, is a spray painter working successfully in outside industry. The point I make is that this boy would never have made the grade had it not been for both the social and recreational facilities provided by Bedford Industries. Therefore, I frankly ask the Minister: Will he agree that the provision for the payment of the capital subsidy as set out in the Bill be interpreted - and I emphasise that - to include both social and recreational facilities?

I draw the Minister's attention to section 16D in proposed new section Part 1VB, which refers to professional and extra supervisory staff. As I understand the current position, the subsidy provided for in this section is on the basis of $1 for $1. Surely the Minister is conscious of the crying need for the skills of professional and extra supervisory staff throughout all workshops. Surely the Minister is aware of - I know he is - and would readily acknowledge the fact the the need for both professional and more importantly, extra supervisory staff is more necessary in a sheltered workshop than in outside industry. Therefore I ask: Will the Minister agree to increase the subsidy applying to this much needed area from the current $1 for $1 to that of a capital subsidy of $2 for $1. In conclusion, I should just like to place on record the fact that when we were dealing with a Bill earlier this year the workshops in my area were grateful for the replies which we received from the Minister on that occasion. I trust that he will adopt a similar course on this occasion.

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