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Friday, 12 June 1981
Page: 3277

(Question No. 271)

Senator Evans asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 5 December 1980:

(1) Which of the following documents, which were included in 'An Inside Dopester's Index of One Hundred Examples of Secrecy', an appendix to the book Secrecy: Political Censorship in Australia by Jim Spigelman (Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1972), have now been published: (a) No. 16-Departmental internal manual; (b) No. 32-Departmental surveys of pensioners (1965); (c) No. 33-Departmental survey of accommodation of aged pensioners; (d) No. 34-Departmental studies of economic benefits of rehabilitation programmes; (e) No. 35-Interdepartmental Committee survey of facilities for handicapped children; and (f) No. 36-Independent consultants' report on mentally and physically handicapped.

(2) Which of the above-mentioned documents have now otherwise been made available.

(3) Which of the documents so far not made available would the Government now be prepared to make available either unconditionally or on any, and if so what, conditions.

(4) Which of the documents so far not made available does the Government continue to refuse to make available, and why.

Senator Chaney —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(a) (1)-(4) The departmental Manuals of Instructions relating to the conditions of eligibility for pensions, benefits and allowances include information concerning the conditions for eligibility as well as information of an operational kind and procedures which, if published, could facilitate fraud. For these latter reasons the manuals have not been made available to the public. However, the Department is aware of the need for the public to have access to information concerning conditions of eligibility for pensions, benefits and allowances and is working towards the production of a manual which would meet the requirements for publication under the Government's proposed Freedom of Information legislation.

(b) (1) The 'surveys' presumably refer to the document entitled 'Statistical Survey of the Characteristics of Age, Invalid and Widow Pensioners in New South Wales, February 1965' and, possibly, the Supplementary Statistical Tables, prepared by the then Department of Social Services. The report from this survey was not published.

(2) Copies of the report from the survey were provided to several Government Departments in 1965 and 1966. In 1969, copies were provided to some other organisations and individuals including the Parliamentary Library and the present Leader of the Opposition.

(3) The document is available on request without conditions.

(4) Not applicable.

(c) (1)-(4) There was no formal survey report. On 1 March 1973 certain statistical tables in respect of pensioners in Victoria receiving supplementary assistance at December 1970 became available on request.

(d) (1)-(4) My Department has no knowledge of a departmental study called ''economic benefits of rehabilitation programmes''; however, in 1972 a longitudinal cost benefit study of rehabilitation services was undertaken. The findings of this study were published in Rehabilitation Digest No. 4 of 1975.

(e) (1)-(4) Despite a considerable research effort by my Department, this Report has not been able to be identified. Footnotes to Mr Spigelman's book do not assist in identification. I am unwilling to instruct my Department to continue the search further.

(f) (1)-(4) A copy of this report, 'Rehabilitation Services in Australia, Report on 1969 Review by Joseph Griffith', February 1970, is held in the Department of Social Security library. A copy is available on request.