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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 164

The Australian social security system is intended to protect people from economic hardship caused by events such as loss of earnings through age, invalidity, sickness, unemployment or the loss or absence of a supporting spouse as a result of death, desertion or long-term separation. It is designed also to compensate veterans for service-related disabilities and the dependants of those whose deaths are service-related and to assist parents with the expenses associated with raising children.

Much of this assistance is provided by way of cash benefits. There are selective, or income tested, benefits such as invalid and widow's pensions and unemployment benefits, as well as universal benefits such as family allowances and handicapped child's allowance.

In addition, assistance is provided, either directly or through State and local government authorities and voluntary agencies, for a wide range of welfare services for people with special needs. The aged, for example, may be assisted with their accommodation needs and the disabled may be trained so that they can re-enter paid employment.

Assistance is provided in a variety of forms for the advancement of Aboriginals.

Total direct outlays on social security and welfare are estimated to increase in 1980-81 by $1093.0 million to $9889.7 million which is equivalent to 27.4 per cent of estimated total Budget outlays. In addition to these direct outlays on social security and welfare, indirect assistance is provided through the personal income tax system. The dependent spouse and sole parent rebates assist single income families, and the deductions allowed for gifts to certain welfare bodies provide indirect assistance to the organisations concerned. Some further details on assistance provided through the taxation system are included in Appendix II to Statement No. 4.

1978-79 1979-80 1980-81

Actual Actual Estimate Change

S million $ million $ million $ million

Assistance to the Aged -

Age Pensions and Allowances 3 229.0 3 508.8 3 967.0 + 458.2

Aged Persons Homes and Hostels 52.7 51.1 52.5 + 1.4

Home Care Services .... 15.6 18.0 22.3 + 4.2

Personal Care Subsidy . 13.4 14.5 16.0 + 1.5

Other....... 0.2 0.2 0.2 -

Total...... 3 310.8 3 592.6 4 057.9 +465.4

Assistance to Veterans and their DependantsDisability Pensions and Allowances 417.8 434.6 494.7 +60.1

Service Pensions..... 436.2 525.2 680.5 +155.4

Other....... 0.7 0.6 0.6

(a)   Excludes block grants paid to the States and the Northern Territory for pre-school education Those amounts are recorded under the function 'Education'.

Assistance to the Aged

Pensions and Allowances

Age pensions are payable, subject to an income test, to residentially qualified women aged 60 to 69 years and to residentially qualified men aged 65 to 69 years. Residentially qualified men and women aged 70 years and over receive a lower, fixed base rate of pension free of income test but they may qualify for the higher rates of income tested pensions if they meet the requirements of the income test. To be residentially qualified for age pension, a period of 10 years continuous residence in Australia at any time is usually necessary.

Wife's pension is payable to an age pensioner's wife who does not qualify for an age, invalid or repatriation service pension in her own right. The pension is subject to an income test.

Additional payments of $7.50 a week for each child are available to pensioners with children. A single pensioner with a child may also qualify for a guardian's allowance of $4 or $6 a week. The Government has decided to raise from November 1980 the additional payment for each child to $10 a week and the guardian's allowance to $6 or $8 a week. These payments are subject to an income test.

Supplementary assistance of up to $5 a week is payable, subject to a special income test, to pensioners who pay rent or lodging charges.

Upon the death of one of a married pensioner couple, the surviving member may receive, for up to six fortnightly instalments, the equivalent of the two pensions that would have been paid had the spouse not died.

Age pension (including wife's pension paid to the wife of an age pensioner) is subject to personal income tax, but no tax is payable by those having little or no income apart from their pension. The additional payments for children and supplementary assistance are not subject to tax.

At present, age pensions are not payable to persons in wards for the mentally ill that are declared as mental hospitals under the Social Services Act. Wives of patients in these 'declared' wards are, similarly, not paid wife's pension but may qualify for a widow's pension. The Government has decided that, from November 1980, age pensions may be paid to inmates of mental hospitals on the same basis as they are paid to inmates of other institutions and that wives of mental hospital inmates will be entitled to receive a wife's, pension rather than a widow's pension. Provision will be made to continue the existing entitlements of those persons currently in receipt of a widow's pension.

The basic rates of pensions are adjusted automatically each six months for movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The rates will be adjusted in November 1980 by the percentage increase in the CPI between the December quarter 1979 and the June quarter 1980, and in May 1981 by the percentage increase in the CPI between the June and December quarters 1980.

The existing maximum rates of age pensions and additional payments, and the rates to apply from November 1980, are set out below:

From November

Pension or additional payment Existing 1980 $ a week S a week

Pensions

Standard (or single) rate of pension...... 61 .05 64. 10

Married rate of pension (each person)...... 50.85 53.40

Wife's pension......... 50.85 53.40

Free of income test pension - age pensioners aged 70 years and over -

Standard rate......... 51.45 51.45

Married rate (each person)....... 42.90 42.90

Additional Payments

Additional pension for each child (including a student child) . 7.50 10.00 Guardian's allowance -

No child under 6 or invalid....... 4.00 6.00

At least one child under 6 or invalid..... 6.00 8.00

Supplementary assistance........ 5.00 5.00

The above rates also apply to invalid and widow's pensions, supporting parent's benefit and sheltered employment allowance. Widows and supporting parents may receive mother's allowance in lieu of guardian's allowance and sheltered employment allowees receive the income-test-free incentive allowance in lieu of supplementary assistance.

The cost of the automatic increases in the rates of age pensions in November 1980 and May 1981 is estimated to be $140.6 million in 1980-81 and $362.8 million in a full year. The increases in the additional payments for children are estimated to cost $1.1 million in 1980-81 and $1.6 million in a full year.

The average amount of age pension (including additions for children and supplementary assistance) is estimated to rise from about $50.50 a week in 1979-80 to about $55.65 a week in 1980-81, an increase of 10.2 per cent. The main reasons for this rise are increases in pension rates in line with the CPI, the fullyear effects of increased rates of pension introduced in November 1979 and May 1980 and increases to additional payments for children.

The following table sets out the actual number of age pensioners at 30 June 1980 together with estimates of the number at the end of each of the next three years. These estimates are based on population projections provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and assume no changes to existing policy.

Aged Persons' Homes and Hostels

Under the Aged or Disabled Persons Homes Act 1954, organisations are assisted to provide suitable homes in which aged people may live in conditions approaching ordinary domestic life. Grants on a $2 for $1 basis may be made to religious and charitable organisations and local government bodies to meet the cost of erection, extension or purchase of homes for the aged. The maximum subsidy limits under the Act are $12 100 for a single unit and $14 035 for a double unit, plus a maximum of $1920 a unit for land. Totally and permanently incapacitated adults may also be accommodated in subsidised homes. Expenditure on the provision of homes is estimated at $29.9 million in 1980-81.

The Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972 is designed to encourage the provision of hostel accommodation for the aged. Subject to certain conditions, the Commonwealth meets the cost of additional hostel accommodation provided by eligible organisations up to a maximum of $18 150 a person. The Commonwealth also pays an additional grant of up to $2400 a person for the purchase of land; a further $250 a person is available for furnishings. Accommodation provided under the Act must be allocated strictly on the basis of need and without any contribution from the prospective resident. Expenditure under the Act is estimated at $22.6 million in 1980-81.

In December 1979 the Government decided to allocate a further sum of $225 million to projects under both Acts. Of this, $52.5 million will be spent in 1980-81.

Grants for pensioner accommodation under Housing Agreements with the States and the Northern Territory are included under the functional heading Housing'.

Home Care Services

Under the States Grants (Home Care) Act 1969 and the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act 1969, the Commonwealth provides funds in association with the States for the provision of a range of home care services, mainly for aged persons, and for the provision of senior citizens' centres.

Under the States Grants (Home Care) Act 1969, the Commonwealth shares on a $1 for $1 basis with the States the cost of approved housekeeping or other domestic assistance provided wholly or mainly for aged persons in their homes. The Commonwealth also shares with the States, on a $2 for $1 basis, the approved capital cost of senior citizens' centres and, on a $1 for $1 basis, the cost of the salary of a welfare officer employed in conjunction with such a centre.

Grants towards the cost of approved housekeeping and other domestic assistance for aged persons in their homes are estimated to rise from $10.4 million in 1979-80 to $12.1 million in 1980-81 because of the expansion of existing approved services. Grants towards the cost of the salary of a welfare officer employed in conjunction with a senior citizens' centre are estimated to rise from $1.1 million in 1979-80 to $1.2 million in 1980-81 because of the effect of salary increases awarded in 1979-80 and the higher use of approved positions.

In December 1979, the Government announced its decision to allocate $12 million to the construction of senior citizens' centres in the three years 1980-81 to 1982-83. Of this, $4 million has been provided in 1980-81.

Under the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act 1969, the Commonwealth shares on a $1 for $1 basis with the States the cost of approved paramedical services provided wholly or mainly for aged persons in their homes. Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are participating in the program. Grants in 1980-81 are estimated to be $0.9 million.

The Delivered Meals Subsidy Act 1970 is designed to assist the establishment, expansion, improvement or maintenance of approved meals on wheels services. In 1979-80 the basic rate of subsidy was 25 cents a meal with an additional subsidy of 5 cents a meal payable for each meal with an approved Vitamin 'C supplement included. The Government has decided to increase the basic rate of subsidy to 40 cents a meal at an additional cost of $1.3 million in 1980-81. Expenditure under the Act in 1980-81 is estimated to be $3.9 million, compared with $2.5 million in 1979-80.

Personal Care Subsidy

Under the Aged or Disabled Persons Homes Act 1954, the Commonwealth pays a personal care subsidy of $15 a week to eligible organisations for persons aged 80 years or over and other residents of such homes who require, and are receiving, approved personal care while living in hostel-type accommodation provided by those organisations. The number of persons who qualify for the subsidy is estimated to increase from 19 630 at 30 June 1980 to 21 400 at 30 June 1981. As a result of the increase in numbers, expenditure on the subsidy is estimated to rise from $14.5 million in 1979-80 to $16 million in 1980-81.

Assistance to Veterans and their Dependants

Disability Pensions and Allowances

Disability pensions and allowances (and certain other benefits including medical treatment) are available to certain veterans and their dependants.

The term 'veteran' includes any man or woman eligible for consideration under the Repatriation Act 1920 or associated Acts by virtue of service in the Australian armed forces. The term 'service' includes service in the 1914-18 War, the 1939-45 War, the Korea and Malaya Operations, the Far East Strategic Reserve, special service in South East Asia (including Vietnam), and service with the Defence Force on or after 7 December 1972.

Basic eligibility varies according to the nature of service. Broadly, for those with 'active service', incapacity or death resulting from 'any occurrence' during service may be accepted. For those with 'home service', however, the criterion is narrower, in that incapacity or death must have arisen out of, or be attributable to, that service. Incapacity or death arising from a condition existing prior to enlistment may be accepted if aggravated or contributed to by the conditions of service.

Disability pension is not subject to personal income tax.

Classes of Disability Pensions

Pensions are paid to eligible veterans in three main categories: The Special Rate (known as the T & PI) Pension, payable to a veteran who, as a result of service, is blinded, or is totally and permanently incapacitated so that he is unable to earn more than a negligible percentage of a living wage;

The Intermediate Rate, payable to a veteran who, because of the severity of his incapacity accepted as related to service, can work only part-time or intermittently and in consequence is unable to earn a living wage; and

The General Rate, payable to a veteran who has an incapacity accepted as related to service but who is still able to work full-time. The amounts payable range from 10 per cent to 100 per cent of the maximum General Rate, according to the assessed degree of incapacity.

Pensions are also paid to the wives of incapacitated veterans and to their children. Such pensions are paid at rates varying with the assessed degree of the particular veteran's incapacity. When the death of a veteran has been accepted as related to his service, his widow qualifies for the war widow's rate of pension and for associated benefits, while his children each receive pensions at 'orphan' rates and other benefits. If a veteran's death has not been accepted as related to service but at the time of death he was receiving, or is later adjudged to have been eligible to receive, a pension at the Special Rate or as a double amputee, his dependants qualify for pensions as if his death had been accepted as related to service. Other dependants of deceased veterans may qualify for pensions in certain circumstances.

Allowances

Various allowances are provided to supplement disability pensions. These allowances vary according to the type or severity of disablement and the special needs of the pensioners.

Rates of Pensions and Allowances

The Special, Intermediate and General Rate disability pensions and the war and defence widow pensions are automatically adjusted each May and each November in line with movements in the Consumer Price Index. The Government has decided that the rates of war orphans' pensions and a number of minor benefits including attendants' allowances and allowances under Schedule 5 to the Repatriation Act 1920 should be increased; details are set out below.

The existing and proposed rates of the main disability pensions and allowances are shown in the following table:

Proposed from November

A Temporary Totally Incapacitated (TTI) pension is an additional rate of pension paid to a veteran who has been classified as temporarily totally incapacitated by service-related incapacity and unable to earn other than a negligible percentage of a living wage. Currently a veteran may only be considered temporarily totally incapacitated if he has been hospitalised or receiving treatment for three months or is likely to be incapacitated for three months. The Government has decided that a Temporary Incapacity Allowance should be introduced to compensate veterans who undergo hospitalisation and are totally incapacitated by that hospitalisation and consequential convalescence or treatment for a continuous period of more than 4 weeks.

A Loss of Earnings Allowance is paid to veterans who have suffered loss of earnings during the investigation of a claim or while receiving medical treatment for a service-related disability. In certain circumstances it may also be paid in respect of loss of earnings caused by any illness or incapacity. The allowance is paid at a rate not exceeding the Special Rate pension less any pension payment at the time, or actual loss of earnings, whichever is lower.

The increases in the rates of disability pensions in November 1980 and May 1981 are estimated to cost $16.49 million in 1980-81 and $41.35 million in a full year. The other increases in benefits and allowances included above are estimated to cost $0.38 million in 1980-81 and $0.54 million in a full year.

At 30 June 1980, there were 434 770 veterans and their dependants in receipt of disability pensions and during 1980-81 the number is estimated to decrease by 12 820 to 421 950. The effect on expenditure of this estimated decline in numbers is more than offset by the full year effects of increased rates of benefits introduced in 1979-80 and the increase in benefit rates in November 1980 and the expected increase in May 1981 in line with movements in the Consumer Price Index.

It is expected that the number of veterans receiving disability pensions will continue to decline. This trend would be consistent with the expected reduction in the number of ex-servicemen and women in Australia over the next three years. The following table provides an estimate of the number of ex-servicemen and women at 30 June in the years 1980 to 1983.

Source:Department of Veterans' Affairs. These projections are based on ABS 'Survey of Ex-Service Personnel, Widows and Children' 1971 and are currently beinp revised in the light of new estimates from a similar survey carried out in 1979. Figures exclude peace time ex-service personnel, currently 40 900, who did not serve during war time or in a special area.

Service Pensions

Service pensions may be payable to: a male veteran who served in a theatre of war and who has attained the age of 60 years or is permanently unemployable; a female veteran who served in a : theatre of war or embarked for service abroad and has attained the age of 55 years or is permanently unemployable; ex-members of the Defence Forces of British Commonwealth countries who satisfy the above criteria and have at least ten years residence in Australia; ex-members of formally raised Armed Forces of Allied countries who meet the same criteria which apply to members of the forces of a Commonwealth country, providing they have not served at any time in the forces of a country which was at the time at war with Australia.

Service in a 'theatre of war' means, in respect of the 1914-18 War or 1939-45 War, service 'at sea, in the field or in the air in naval, military or aerial operations against the enemy in an area, or on an aircraft or ship of war, at a time when danger from hostile forces of the enemy was incurred in that area or on that aircraft or ship of war . . . '

In respect of certain later service, 'service in an operational area' and 'special service' as defined are the qualifications equivalent to service in a 'theatre of war'.

A service pension is the broad equivalent of an age or invalid pension. The advantages to the veteran are availability of the service pension five years earlier and, in certain circumstances, eligibility for a wide range of repatriation medical treatment services. Service pensioners are eligible for the same range of pensions and allowances as age pensioners and the rates of benefits are the same. Like age pensions, service pensions will be increased in November 1980 and in May 1981 in line with movements in the CPI.

Service pension is paid, subject to income test, to eligible veterans under the age of 70 years. A basic rate (that payable as at 1 November 1978) of service pension, not subject to automatic indexation, is paid, free of income test, to eligible veterans aged 70 years and over. Increases in the rate of service pension as a result of automatic indexation are paid to such veterans in the form of an income-tested supplement. For eligible veterans under 70 years of age and in the assessment of the income-tested supplement for veterans aged 70 years and over, 50 per cent of any disability pension received is disregarded as income for service pension income test purposes. With this exception, service pensions are subject to the same income test arrangements as social security pensions. Service pensions are subject to income tax.

At 30 June 1980, there were 239 960 service pensioners (including wives) and in 1980-81 the number is estimated to increase by 24 440 to 264 400. The increase in estimated expenditure in 1980-81 reflects this estimated increase in numbers, the full-year effect of pension increases granted in 1979-80 and the increased rates to apply in 1980-81.

The increases in rates of service pensions in November 1980 and May 1981 are estimated to cost $28.12 million in 1980-81 and $78.75 million in a full year.

It is expected that the number of veterans receiving service pensions will continue to grow in the short term. This would be consistent with the age profile of ex-servicemen as illustrated in the following table.

Age Profile of Iix-servicemen at 30 June 1980

Ex-servicemen as per cent of Total male total male Percentage of population population at Number of total (age 25 corresponding

Source:Department of Veterans' Affairs. Estimates of ex-servicemen are based on ABS 'Survey of Ex-Service Personnel, Widows and Children', 1971 and are presently being revised in the light of new estimates from a similar survey conducted in 1979. The remaining estimates were provided by the ABS.

Assistance to the Handicapped

Invalid Pensions and Allowances

Invalid pensions are payable to people aged 16 years or more who are permanently incapacitated for work to the extent of not less than 85 per cent or are permanently blind. Pensions are subject to the income test except in the case of people who are permanently blind. No period of residence is necessary if the permanent incapacity or blindness occurred in Australia. If the permanent incapacity or blindness occurred outside Australia, the residence qualification is the same as for an age pension. Invalid pensioners are eligible for the same additional payments as are age pensioners and the rates of payment are the same. Wife's pension is payable, subject to an income test, to the wife of an invalid pensioner if she is not eligible for an age, invalid or service pension in her own right.

Invalid pension paid to a person of age pension age and wife's pension paid to the wife of such an invalid pensioner are subject to personal income tax. Pensions payable to an invalid pensioner below age pension age are not subject to tax. Additional payments are not subject to tax.

As in the case of age pensions, the Government has decided to pay invalid pensions to inmates of certain wards of mental hospitals on the same basis as they are paid to inmates of other institutions. Wives of mental hospital inmates will be entitled to receive a wife's pension rather than a widow's pension. Provision will be made to continue the existing entitlements of those persons currently in receipt of a widow's pension.

At 30 June 1980 there were 289 300 invalid pensioners (including wives of invalid pensioners in receipt of wife's pension) and during 1980-81 the number is estimated to increase by 13 500 to- 302 800.

The average amount of invalid pension (including additions for children and supplementary assistance) is estimated to rise from about $52.35 a week in 1979-80 to about $58.90 a week in 1980-81, an increase of 12.5 per cent. The main reasons for this rise are the estimated increases in pension rates in November 1980 and May 1981 in line with movements in the CPI, the full year effects of increased rates of pension introduced during 1979-80, and increases to the additional payments for children.

The estimated cost of the automatic increases in the rates of invalid pensions is $35.6 million in 1980-81 and $91.9 million in a full year. The estimated cost of the increase in the additional payments for children is estimated to be $6.8 million in 1980-81 and $10.4 million in a full year.

Sheltered Employment Allowances

Sheltered employment allowances are payable to disabled people engaged in approved sheltered employment who are qualified to receive an invalid pension or who would become so qualified if they ceased to be provided with sheltered employment. The allowance is subject to the same income test as is applied to the invalid pension and the rates of payment are the same. In lieu of supplementary assistance, an incentive allowance of $5 a week is paid (free of income test) to the recipients of sheltered employment allowance.

Neither sheltered employment allowance nor incentive allowance is subject to tax.

Handicapped Children's Benefits and Allowances

A handicapped child's allowance of $65 a month is payable to parents or guardians in respect of a child under the age of 1 6 years who is cared for at home and who, because of the severity of the handicap, is in need of constant care and attention. It is also payable in respect of full-time student children aged 16 and under 25 years except where the student is in receipt of an invalid pension. Subject to the discretion of the Director-General, a handicapped child's allowance is also payable, wholly or in part, where a person has the custody, care and control of a substantially handicapped child and, as a consequence of continuing substantive expenditure associated with the child's disability, the person suffers financial hardship. A handicapped child's allowance is not subject to tax.

The Government has decided to raise the handicapped child's allowance to $73 a month from November 1980 at an estimated cost of $1.7 million in 1980-81 and $2.5 million in a full year.

The number of recipients of handicapped child's allowance at 30 June 1980 was 25 400 and this number is estimated to increase to 27 000 by 30 June 1981. Expenditure is estimated to rise from $19.1 million in 1979-80 to $20.3 million in i980-81 as a result of the increased numbers expected to qualify for the allowance and the increase in the rate of payment.

The Commonwealth pays a handicapped children's benefit to non-profit organisations and local government bodies conducting approved homes providing accommodation and care for intellectually and physically handicapped children. The rate of benefit is $5 a day for each child under 16 years of age. The benefit continues to be paid to an eligible organisation when a child is absent from the institution for a short period only, such as a week-end home visit. Expenditure is estimated to increase from $1.7 million in 1979-80 to $1.8 million in 1980-81 in line with an expected increase in the number of organisations, and thus the number of children, becoming eligible for subsidy.

Handicapped Persons' Facilities

Under the Handicapped Persons Assistance Act 1974, the Commonwealth provides subsidies on a $4 for $1 basis to non-profit organisations and local government bodies for the purchase, construction, extension, alteration, rental and maintenance of premises that cater for physically or intellectually handicapped people.

Services qualifying for subsidy comprise day training centres for handicapped children, activity therapy centres, training centres and sheltered workshops for handicapped adults and residential facilities for people who use these services.

Residential facilities for people who, because of a disability, need special accommodation to allow them to engage in normal outside employment, also qualify for subsidy.

Subsidies on a $4 for $1 basis are available also for the cost of furnishing and equipping the various types of centres, while assistance with operating costs may be provided by means of staff salary subsidies. The latter are usually on a $ for $ basis although a higher proportion, up to 100 per cent, may be paid for the first two years of operation of some new projects.

A training fee of $500 is paid to eligible sheltered workshops for each former employee who, after completing more than six months sheltered employment, graduates to and retains employment for 12 months or more.

In December 1979, the Government announced its decision to further expand the number of services subsidised under the Act by allocating $33 million over the three years 1980-81 to 1982-83 for the establishment of new services. $11 million has been provided in 1980-81 towards the establishment of new services. In addition, $0.3 million has been made available in 1980-81 to upgrade the effectiveness and quality of services for the handicapped.

Rehabilitation Services

The Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) attempts to restore disabled persons to their fullest physical, mental, social and vocational usefulness. Treatment and training are provided free to persons if there is a reasonable prospect of their being able to undertake full-time, part-time or sheltered employment or household duties or of their becoming capable of leading an independent or semiindependent life at home.

The following broad categories are accepted for rehabilitation: pensioners and claimants for pension who would be likely to derive substantial benefit from that treatment and training; beneficiaries and claimants for benefit who, without that treatment and training, would be likely to become unemployable; persons being paid allowances under section 9 of the Tuberculosis Act 1948 and who would be likely to derive substantial benefit from that treatment and training; persons of 14 or 15 years who, without treatment and training, would be likely to become qualified to receive invalid pension on attaining the age of 16 years; and any men aged from 16 to 65 or women aged from 16 to 60 who would be likely to derive substantial benefit from that treatment and training.

Persons who do not fall within these eligibility criteria may be accepted for rehabilitation on a paying basis.

Expenditure is estimated to rise from $21.1 million in 1979-80 to $25.0 million in 1980-81 as a result of an expected increase in the numbers to be accepted for treatment and training and the full year effect of price and salary increases during 1979-80. The number of persons undergoing rehabilitation and training is estimated to increase from 2746 at 30 June 1980 to 2910 at 30 June 1981.

Provision is also made for the Commonwealth's share of the costs of establishing and operating a rehabilitation centre in Hobart jointly with the Tasmanian Government. The Centre is expected to be completed and commence operations during the financial year.

The Government has decided to establish a permanent rehabilitation facility in Newcasde in conjunction with facilities operated by the State Health Authority. The Government has also decided that planning is to proceed for the provision of a multi-purpose rehabilitation facility in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

In addition to its multi-purpose centres, the CRS presently operates two Work Preparation Centres that aim to prepare mildly intellectually handicapped young people for open employment. The Government has reviewed the operations of these centres and has decided to establish a further two centres during 1980-81 - one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. When in full operation, the new centres will train up to 200 people a year for suitable employment.

Other

The Government has announced its intention to support the observance of the international Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP), 1981, and has provided $0.9 million in 1980-81 to undertake a national publicity and information program, to assist the development of activity in the non-government sector through a National Committee of Non-Government Organisations and to support certain key national initiatives. In addition, the Government has decided to implement a number of measures to assist disabled persons. Major measures are dealt with under relevant functional headings.

One example of Government support for IYDP is the provision of up to $500 000 to the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled towards the cost of a national headquarters building to be constructed in Canberra. Of this, $30 500 was paid in 1979-80; the balance of $469 500 has been provided for in 1980-81.

In 1980-81 $150 000 has been provided for interim assistance for the production of Braille books pending a review of arrangements for longer term assistance.

Assistance to Widows and Single Parents

Widow's Pension and Allowances

Pensions are payable to widows, subject to an income test. No period of residence is necessary if a woman and her husband were residing permanently in Australia when she became a widow. In other cases, there is a residence qualification of either 5 years continuous residence in Australia immediately prior to claiming a pension or 10 years continuous residence in Australia at any time.

There are three classes of widows who receive pension:

Class A widow - a widow with one or more qualifying children in her care;

Class B widow - a widow without qualifying children who is at least 50 years of age or at least 45 years of age if her Class A pension ceased after she reached that age because she no longer had a qualifying child in her care; and

Class C widow - a widow without qualifying children who is in necessitous circumstances within 26 weeks of her husband's death.

For all classes, the term 'widow' includes a woman who was the common-law wife of a man for at least three years immediately before his death. For Class A and B, it also includes a wife who has been deserted for six months, a divorced woman and a woman whose husband has been imprisoned for six months.

Widow pensioners are eligible for the same additional payments as are age pensioners (except that mother's allowance is paid in lieu of guardian's allowance) and the rates of payment are the same. These payments are subject to an income test. Widows' pensions are subject to personal income tax, although no tax is payable by those having little or no income apart from their pension. The additional payments are not subject to tax.

At 30 June 1980 there were 91 100 Class A widows, 74 900 Class B widows and 100 Class C widows in receipt of pensions.

It is estimated that the number of Class A widow pensioners will increase by 3000 to 94 100 during 1980-81 and the number of Class B and Class C widow pensioners will increase by 3300 to 78 300. The average rate of pension for Class A widow pensioners is estimated to rise from $73.00 a week in 1979-80 to $84.25 a week in 1980-81, an increase of 15.4 per cent. The average rate for Class B and Class C widows' pensions is estimated to rise from $55.25 a week in 1979-80 to $61.95 a week in 1980-81, an increase of 12.1 per cent. The main reasons for these increases are the automatic increases in pension rates in November 1980 and May 1981 in line with movements in the CPI, the full year effect of increased rates of pension introduced during 1979-80 and increases in additional payments for children. The estimated cost of the increase in the rates of widows' pensions in November 1980 and May 1981 is $22.3 million in 1980-81 and $57.4 million in a full year. The cost of the increases in the additional payments for children is estimated to be $21.8 million in 1980-81 and $33.4 million in a full year.

Supporting Parents' Benefits and Allowances

A supporting parent's benefit is paid to certain sole mothers ineligible for a Class A widow's pension. In the case of unmarried mothers, benefit becomes payable six months after the child's birth. In other cases, benefit becomes payable six months after the event which gives rise to eligibility (eg separation) provided a child is six months old.

Supporting parent's benefit is payable immediately to a widowed father, an unmarried father, a father whose de facto wife dies or a divorced father, provided a child is six months old. It is payable to separated husbands and de facto husbands and to husbands and de facto husbands of prisoners after six months from the date of the event which gives rise to eligibility provided a child is six months old.

The benefit is payable at the same rate as the Class A widow's pension and subject to similar conditions. Supporting parents may also be eligible for supplementary assistance, additional benefit for children and mother's or guardian's allowance.

From November 1980, supporting parent's benefit will be extended to cover the first six months of sole parenthood.

As a result of the removal of the six months waiting period, it is estimated that an average of about 15 900 additional supporting parents will qualify for a supporting parent's benefit. The number of supporting parent beneficiaries at 30 June 1981 is estimated to be about 93 400 - some 19 500 higher than the number of supporting parents assisted at 30 June 1980. The average rate of benefit (including additions for children and supplementary assistance) in 1980-81 is estimated to be $80.20 a week, $5.60 a week more than in 1979-80.

The estimated cost of indexation of supporting parent's benefit in November 1980 and in May 1981 is about $11.9 million in 1980-81 and about $30.8 million in a full year. The increases in the additional payments for children are estimated to cost $19.3 million in 1980-81 and $29.6 million in a full year. The removal of the six months waiting period is estimated to cost $43.2 million in 1980-81 and $63.1 million in a full year. These costs include the cost the Commonwealth would otherwise have borne under the States Grants (Deserted

Wives) Actand by way of special benefit.

Other

Under the States Grants (Deserted Wives) Act 1968 the Commonwealth shares, up to certain limits, on a $1 for $1 basis with the States the cost of helping sole mothers ineligible for Commonwealth assistance. Assistance is usually provided during the first six months after the date of the event which gives rise to eligibility (eg the birth of a child or separation). The main groups of mothers assisted are separated wives, wives of prisoners and unmarried mothers. After the first six months, these groups of mothers may qualify for either a Class A widow's pension or a supporting parent's benefit. Under separate arrangements, the Commonwealth now shares these costs with the Northern Territory on a similar basis.

Victoria withdrew from these arrangements from 1 January 1980 in respect of all those becoming eligible after that date. South Australia withdrew, on the same basis as Victoria, from 1 July 1980 and Western Australia has indicated that it will withdraw from 26 August 1980. Sole mothers affected in these States are being considered for grant of Commonwealth special benefit.

As explained in the preceding section, the Government has decided that the six months waiting period for supporting parent's benefit is to be removed from November 1980. As a consequence, expenditure under the States Grants (Deserted

Wives) Actis estimated to fall from $24.7 million in 1979-80 to $13.8 million in 1980-81. The States Grants (Deserted Wives) Act will be repealed.

Assistance to Families

Family Allowances

Family allowances are payable to people with children under 16 years of age or dependent children aged 16 years but under 25 years and receiving full-time education at a school, college or university and not in employment. Allowances are usually paid to the mother.

Family allowance, orphan's pension and handicapped child's allowance are not payable outside Australia except where the child is: temporarily abroad; or living abroad pending migration to Australia (within 4 years).

Parents of children receiving student allowances under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme and other related scholarship schemes are not eligible for family allowances, but appropriate adjustments have been made to the rates of student allowances so that families of tertiary students receive broadly the same minimum payments. Students receiving invalid pension are not eligible for family allowances. Family allowances are not subject to income tax.

The rates of family allowance are: $ a month

First child

Second child

Third child

Fourth child

Fifth and later children

Child in an institution

15.20 21.70 26.00 26.00 30.35 21.70

The following table sets out the actual number of children in respect of whom family allowances were paid at 30 June 1980 together with estimates of the number at the end of the next three years. These estimates are based on population projections provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and assume no changes to existing eligibility criteria.

Children in Families Total

Full-time Per cent students change aged 16 Children over

Under to 24 in Insti- previous 30 June 16 years years Total tutions Number year

1980

1981 (estimate) . 1982 (estimate) . 1983 (estimate) .

Source: Department of Social Security

Outlays are estimated to decrease from $1012.7 million in 1979-80 to $953.0 million in 1980-81 because of one additional payday charged to 1979-80.

Children's Services

The Commonwealth provides capital and recurrent assistance for services for children and their families - for example, day care, vacation care and after school care projects. Expenditure on children's services (excluding a block grant to the States and the Northern Territory to assist in meeting the costs of pre-school education) is estimated to be $36.13 million in 1980-81, about the same amount as was provided in 1979-80.

The block grants for pre-schools are recorded under the functional heading Education'.

Orphan's Pension

An orphan's pension of $47.70 a month is payable, free of income test, to the guardian of a child under 16 years of age or of a full-time student aged 16 but under 25 years of age. The Government has decided that orphan's pension should be increased to $55.70 a month from November 1980 at an estimated cost of $0.3 million in 1980-81 and. $0.4 million in a full year. The number of recipients of orphan's pension at 30 June 1981 is estimated to be about 4000 - approximately the same as at 30 June 1980. It is paid in respect of a child both of whose parents are dead, or if the whereabouts of a sole surviving parent is unknown, or if its sole surviving parent or adoptive parent is in prison or in a mental hospital. Orphan's pension is not payable in respect of a person who is receiving an invalid pension. lt is not subject to income tax.

Expenditure is estimated to be $2.25 million in 1980-81 compared with $2.05 million in 1979-80, the increase mainly reflecting the increase in rates of orphan's pensions.

Other

It is estimated that $5000 will be spent on maternity allowance in 1980-81 on outstanding claims for eligible births. Maternity allowance was payable, as a lump sum, to mothers in respect of children born on or before 31 October 1978.

The Government has provided $2.75 million in 1980-81 for grants to approved marriage guidance organisations and pre-marital education organisations. To maintain the level of educational activity in family planning, $0.78 million will be provided in 1980-81. Grants to family planning associations for clinical services in 1980-81, estimated at $2.2 million, are provided under Health Program Grants (see Section 3 - Health).

In addition, $0.93 million has been provided for the first full-year's operation of the Institute of Family Studies established under the Family Law Act 1975.

Assistance to the Unemployed and Sick

Unemployment Benefits Sickness and Special Benefits

Unemployment benefit is available, subject to an income test, to persons without employment yet willing and able to undertake suitable work. Sickness benefit, also subject to an income test, is available for persons who lose income when they are temporarily incapacitated for work. A special benefit may be paid to persons ineligible for pension or for unemployment or sickness benefit if they are unable to earn a sufficient livelihood for themselves and their dependants.

To be eligible for unemployment or sickness benefit, a person must be at least 16 years of age and under 60 (females) or under 65 years (males). The person must also have lived in Australia for at least a year immediately prior to claiming benefit or intend to remain permanently.

The basic rates of benefit are generally the same as for age and invalid pensions except for single people under 18 years of age and older unemployed people without dependants. Single people under 18 years of age are eligible for a maximum payment of $36 a week, while unemployed people aged 18 years and over without dependants are eligible for a maximum payment of $51.45 a week. In both cases the benefit is not subject to the automatic indexation provisions for increases in the CPI. The Government has decided that, from November 1980, the maximum rate of unemployment benefit for unemployed people aged 18 years and over without dependants should be raised to $53.45 a week. All unemployment and sickness beneficiaries with children are eligible for an additional allowance for each dependant child at the same rate as for children of pensioners. Unemployment and sickness beneficiaries are not eligible for mother's or guardian's allowance.

After receiving benefits for six consecutive weeks, sickness beneficiaries become eligible, subject to a special income test, to receive supplementary allowance of up to $5 a week if they pay rent. This allowance is not payable to beneficiaries in hospital who have no dependants.

Unemployment and sickness benefits are currently withdrawn on a dollar for dollar basis for private income received above free areas of: $3 a week for a single person aged under 21 years with a parent living in

Australia; and $6 a week for all other cases.

The Government has decided that the income test for unemployment and sickness benefits should be liberalised. From November 1980, benefit will be withdrawn on a 50 per cent basis for private income within the ranges: $3 to $40 a week for single persons aged 16 and 17 years with a parent living in Australia; and $6 to $50 a week for all other cases.

Benefits will be withdrawn on a dollar for dollar basis for all private income in excess of these upper limits.

Unemployment and sickness benefits, including additional payments for children and supplementary allowance, are subject to personal income tax.

The cost of the automatic increase in the rates of unemployment, sickness and special benefits in November 1980 and May 1981 is estimated to be $14.5 million for unemployment benefit, $6.2 million for sickness benefit and $1.0 million for special benefits in 1980-81, and to be $37.3 million, $15.7 million and $2.4 million for these benefits respectively in a full year. The increase in additional payments for children is estimated to cost SI 1.5 million in 1980-81 and §17.5 million in a full year. The cost of increasing the maximum rate of unemployment benefit for persons aged 18 years and over without dependants is estimated to be $13 million in 1980-81 and $19.5 million in a full year.

The average number of unemployment beneficiaries underlying the 1980-81 estimate is 300 000 compared with the average number of beneficiaries in 1979-80 of 306 300. The average number of sickness beneficiaries is estimated to rise from 36 100 in 1979-80 to 39 000 in 1980-81 and the average number of special beneficiaries is estimated to remain steady at about 16 400.

Unemployment Relief

Community Youth Support Scheme

The Community Youth Support Scheme (CYSS) was introduced in 1976 to provide a supportive environment within which unemployed young people are assisted to develop and maintain skills and job-orientation while unemployed. To this end CYSS provides financial support to community committees and local government authorities to conduct projects which involve young people in a range of employment-orientation and skill development programs, recreational activities and community service work. In addition to normal entitlement to unemployment benefit, participants in CYSS projects may be paid an allowance of up to $6 a week for fares and incidental expenses incurred.

In 1979-80 expenditure of $11.6 million enabled about 50 000 young people to participate in 274 projects. Provision of $11.6 million is again made for a similar number of participants in 1980-81 althougli some increase in the number of projects by June 1981 is anticipated.

Fraser Island

Following its decision to cease granting export licences for minerals from sand mining on Fraser Island, the Commonwealth agreed to provide $10 million to Queensland for allocation by that State to create employment opportunities in the Maryborough region. The Commonwealth recently agreed to extend this assistance by an additional $450 000 in 1979-80. Payments therefore totalled $10.45 million comprising $1 million in 1976-77, $3 million in 1977-78 and in 1978-79 and $3.45 million in 1979-80.

Relocation Assistance Scheme

The Relocation Assistance Scheme, which has operated since 1976, helps overcome the difficulties of unemployed persons who are unable to secure continuing employment in their present locality and are without prospects of doing so, even with re-training. Assistance is made available to enable eligible persons to move to another locality to take up either employment or training under the NEAT scheme leading to employment. Assistance is provided for fares and for other costs incurred by unemployed workers and their families changing their place of permanent residence, including removal expenses of up to $750, re-establishment costs (related to family size), legal and agents' fees of up to $1000 or rental allowances of up to $500.

During 1979-80 approximately 1500 applicants were assisted under this scheme at a cost of $1 million. Provision has been made for expenditure of $1.1 million in 1980-81; this estimate assumes a similar number of applicants will be assisted.

Other Welfare Programs

Funeral Benefits

A funeral benefit of up to $20 is payable to any person liable for the funeral costs of an age or invalid pensioner. A higher benefit of up to $40 is payable to an age, invalid or widow pensioner (including a person in receipt of supporting parent's benefit) liable for the funeral costs of a spouse, a child or another such pensioner. For these benefits, 'pensioner' means a person who satisfies, or had satisfied, the Commonwealth pensioner 'fringe' benefits income test. Expenditure is expected to remain steady at $1.45 million in 1980-81.

Telephone Rental and Postal Concessions

Pensioners, supporting parent beneficiaries and recipients of some other benefits who meet certain requirements, including, in most cases, a special income test, may be eligible for mail redirection concessions and a reduction of onethird in the basic annual rental for a telephone.

Outlays on these concessions to social security and repatriation pensioners are expected to be $19.1 million in 1980-81.

Assistance to Homeless Men and Women

The Homeless Persons Assistance Act 1974 provides for the payment of capital grants to voluntary agencies and to local authorities for approved projects (such as night shelters, reception centres and hostels) in order to upgrade and replace inadequate existing accommodation and to build new facilities for homeless persons. It also provides payment of a salary subsidy of 50 per cent of the salary of approved staff, an accommodation subsidy of 75 cents a person a day and a basic rate of meal subsidy of 25 cents a meal in respect of non-resident homeless persons. The Government has decided to increase the accommodation subsidy to $1.20 a person a day and the basic rate of meal subsidy to 40 cents a meal.

Outlays in 1980-81 are estimated to be $5.0 million of which $2.3 million is for the funding of two major capital projects presently under construction.

Assistance for Migrants

Additional funds have again been provided in line with the triennium funding recommendations in the Review of Post-Arrival Programs and Services for Migrants (Galbally Report). With one exception, the programs listed below are now into their third year of operation.

Grants to enable agencies serving ethnic communities to employ social workers will increase from $1.5 million to $1.67 million in 1980-81; some 100 continuing or new grants are expected to be made to these agencies. These include grants under special programs for the aged, to meet information needs on welfare rights under an ongoing program, and under block funding schemes applying to larger agencies. Subsidies for self-help activities in ethnic communities have again been funded at the continuing level of $150 000 recommended in the Report; 47 subsidies for self-help activities were approved in 1979-80.

An amount of $1.19 million has been provided for translating and interpreting services, which includes the additional funds proposed in the Report. A further $0.24 million has been provided for the second year of a program under which similar services are provided by some States under cost-sharing arrangements.

A provision of $1.28 million has been made in 1980-81 for the estimated 23 migrant resource and information centres that will be operating throughout Australia in 1980-81. An allocation of $0.28 million has also been made for the continuing program for reimbursing voluntary agencies providing material assistance to migrants arriving in necessitous circumstances; 15 326 migrants received assistance under this program in 1979-80.

Overall provision for these activities has increased from $4.78 million in _ 1979- 80 to $4.90 million in 1980-81.

Welfare Programs in the Australian Capital Territory

The Commonwealth provides welfare benefits and subsidies to ACT residents on a similar basis to those paid by State governments. It is estimated that $7.6 million will be provided for those purposes in 1980-81. The provision for 1980- 81 includes payment of benefits to sole parents by the Department of the Capital Territory for part of the year only, owing to the extension of the supporting parent's benefit from November 1980. In addition, commencing in 1980-81, grants and subsidies to certain ACT community and welfare organisations which were previously included under this item will be funded from the recently established ACT Community Development Fund.

Other

The Commonwealth reimburses the Australian National Railways Commission for part of the cost of providing non-commercial concessional fares and freight rates, mainly to pensioners; the cost to the Commonwealth of these concessions in 1980-81 is estimated at $1.5 million, the same as expenditure in 1979-80.

The Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs was established in 1979 to develop social awareness and tolerance of diverse cultures by commissioning studies, disseminating information and other educational activities. An amount of $1.45 million is provided for this activity in 1980-81, as recommended in the Review of Post Arrival Programs and Services for Migrants (Galbally Report).

In 1980-81 $0.5 million has been provided for grants to community welfare agencies in financial difficulties or in need of support in providing emergency relief.

Aboriginal Advancement Programs nec

The Government's major new initiative in Aboriginal affairs in 1980-81 arises from the establishment of the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC). The ADC commenced operations on 1 July 1980 and has assumed responsibility for the activities of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission, the Aboriginal Loans Commission and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs' grants-in-aid enterprises programs. In addition, the Commission will advise and make recommendations to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the economic and social development of Aboriginals. Of the $23.8 million provided to support the ADCs operations in 1980-81, $10.0 million will establish the Capital Fund of the Aboriginal Entitlement Capital Account, an accumulating investment fund. Income from the capital fund will be available to further support the ADC's programs.

The long-term goal of the capital fund is that it should lead to the Commission's ultimate financial independence.

In 1980-81 a further $35.1 million is to be provided for special assistance to Aboriginals including grants-in-aid in the fields of employment, general welfare, training and community services. These programs include support for Community Development Employment Projects; these projects provide payment for work done, and are intended to reduce the socially deleterious effects of unemployment benefits on Aboriginals, particularly in remote communities. Assistance is also provided to Aboriginal communities for the improvement and maintenance of community amenities. Expenditure by the National Aboriginal Conference (NAC) is included under this heading. The NAC's role is to provide a forum for the expression of Aboriginal views, particularly on the long term goals and objectives of government in Aboriginal affairs. The Government has agreed that the NAC should host the Third General Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in 1981; $90 000 is included in this item for this purpose.

General Administrative and Other Expenditure

This expenditure comprises the general running and capital expenses of the Departments of Social Security ($197.9 million in 1980-81), Veterans' Affairs ($53.7 million) excluding expenses relating to repatriation institutions, which are recorded under 'Health', Aboriginal Affairs ($17.0 million) and the Social Welfare Policy Secretariat ($0.6 million).







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