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Monday, 21 April 1980
Page: 1610

Senator Grimes asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 1 8 March 1 980:

(   1 ) Is the state of the labour market pertinent to the capacity of a disabled person to work.

(2)   Does the Department of Social Security liaise with the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs regarding the availability of work for people who would be considered 80 per cent incapacitated.

(3)   How many such people have been placed by Commonwealth Employment Offices in the past year.

(4)   Is the Government planning any action for the International Year of the Disabled Persons to increase access by disabled persons to the workforce.

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(   1 ) The state of the labour market is not a consideration in determining permanent incapacity for work for invalid pension purposes under the Social Services Act.

(2)   Persons who are not permanently incapacitated for work for invalid pension purposes may be entitled to unemployment benefits. To be eligible for unemployment benefits a person is required to be registered for work with the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES). I am advised that the CES can provide specialist assistance to those handicapped and other disadvantaged people who are unable to benefit from the standard CES services. This assistance is available from 52 employment counsellors and 75 vocational psychologists currently employed in the CES Regional Offices. This level of assistance is currently available to people in a number of institutions for the handicapped and disadvantaged as well as to those registered with the CES. Additionally, there are also special provisions contained within the NEAT system to provide employment training assistance to the handicapped and disadvantaged.

(3)   The CES does not classify handicapped people in terms of percentage incapacity, and it is therefore not possible to provide information on those people who are 80 per cent incapacitated.

(4)   Access to the workforce by disabled persons is expected to be a major issue during the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, and any action the Government can take to improve job opportunities for these people will be given a high priority. The details of any proposals in this regard will be a matter for my colleague the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs.

In addition, the National Advisory Council for the Handicapped has commenced work on the development of National Employment Strategy for the Handicapped which it plans to promote during 1 98 1 as a major pan of its contribution to the observance of International Year of Disabled Persons. As part of the development of this strategy it is initiating discussions with all relevant parties including departments, employer and employee bodies to see what can be done not only to improve access by disabled people to the workforce but also to prevent disability of occupational origin and increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation.

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