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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 926

Senator MULVIHILL asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

(1)   What is the function of the Department of the Interior Welfare Branch in the Northern Territory.

(2)   Does the Branch ensure that there is no discrimination in employment in the Government and private sectors.

(3)   What amenities does the Branch provide for unemployed persons.

Senator COTTON - The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   The functions of the Welfare Division of the Northern Territory Administration are to:

(a)   administer programmes of assistance to people who are socially or economically in need of such assistance;

(b)   administer Government settlements and centres for Aborigines;

(c)   liaise with Mission authorities and administer the programmes of financial assistance to Missions;

(d)   administer the special schools for Aborigines in the Northern Territory;

(e)   conduct institutions for the care and maintenance of young people placed in the care of the Director of Child Welfare; (0 exercise powers and responsibilities under the following Ordinances -

Social Welfare Ordinance 1964-1967 Child Welfare Ordinance 1958-1969

Adoption of Children Ordinance 1964- 1969

Interstate Aboriginals (Distribution of

Estates) Ordinance 1964-1967

Native and Historical Objects and Areas

Preservation. Ordinance 1955-1961.

(g)   initiate or advise on proposals for changes of policy in connection with the matters referred to above.

(2)   Procedures for the employment of persons by the Commonwealth provide that persons who are otherwise suitable and eligible for employment are not discriminated against on racial grounds.

The Welfare Division works in close consultation with the Department of Labour and National Service to place Aborigines to the best advantage in private employment. Employers are under no legal obligation to offer equal employment opportunities to people regardless of racial origins but any complaints of discrimination in employment are investigated.

(3)   The Director of Social Welfare has a statutory responsibility to provide care and assistance to people economically or socially in need of such assistance.

Social workers of the Welfare Division investigate all cases of hardship which come to notice and assistance is provided where a need is shown.

In particular the Division provides bridging assistance to unemployed persons and their families to cover the period after application has been made for unemployment benefits and before such benefits are paid.

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