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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3137

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of Toowoomba, Queensland, respectfully show that-

1. Hearing impaired children from isolated centres who cannot receive an appropriate education live in Toowoomba with Host Families under the Queensland Department of Education Private Accommodation Scheme and attend school at the Special Education Unit, Wilsonton, for significantly hearing impaired children.

2.1 As Host Parents we were advised by Miss Eunice Feil, a Child Care Officer on 25th May, 1983 that ''Mr Nick Flitner (Department of Social Security) on 24.5 .83 confirmed that it is quite in order for the Department of Social Security to pay host parents and natural parents the Handicapped Child's Allowance and that they are already doing this in the case of retarded children who alternate between institutional care and the care of their own parents''.

2.2 Subsequently, Host Families applied and their application was refused and we were informed that under Section 95 (i) the Social Security Act requires that a person have custody, care and control of a child to qualify for Family Allowance and that as we do not have custody of the child therefore we are not entitled to receive the Handicapped Child's Allowance.

2.3 Children placed in our care are done so only after an agreement has been signed between the Parents, Host Parents and the Minister for Education.

That agreement states ''WHEREAS in the interests of the child's education and social welfare it is desirable that the Minister provide private accommodation for and care of the child''.

A copy of this contract is attached for your information.

2.4 The allowances as set out are intended as payment for board and related expenses. The Host Families still have a duty of care which is as significant as the natural parents who receive the Handicapped Child's Allowance.

2.5 Regrettably some natural families do not accept their responsibilities. Some Host Families provide clothing and generally are forced to assume financial responsibility as they are not prepared to see their Host child disadvantaged.

2.6 In one case we are told, a child who stays with her paternal grandmother has been granted Handicapped Child's Allowance even though her placement is under and subject to the Private Accommodation agreement which we all must sign.

3. The Private Accommodation Scheme allows for significantly sensorially handicapped children to be educated closer to their home and not have to attend a boarding school and miss out on the many important benefits a home environment provides.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Department of Social Security reconsider this decision and make the payment of Handicapped Child's Allowance to Host Families.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

by .