PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3153

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER MR E.G. WHITLAM, Q.C., M.P, AT THE OPENING OF THE SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL, "OZANAM" HOME OF PEACE AND CONTENTMENT, CAMPBELL, ACT 14 FEBRUARY 1974

Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/02/1974

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 3153

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER, MR, E. G. WHITLAM, 0l. C., AT
THE OPENING OF THE SOCIETY OF ST, VINCENT DE PAULO " OZANAM" HOME OF
PEACE AND CONTENTMENT, CAMPBELL, A. C. T. 14 FEBRUARY 1974
I AM ESPECIALLY PLEASED ON THE DAY AFTER MY RETURN FROM
SOUTH-EAST ASIA TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE LAUNCHING OF A NEW
ENTERPRISE OF THE ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY. FOR AMONG THE VERY
WIDE RANGE OF ITS ACTIVITIES, THE SOCIETY HAS INCLUDED TRAINING
PROGRAMS AND MATERIAL ASSISTANCE IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA. UNDOUBTEDLY,
SINCE ITS FOUNDATION BY A GROUP OF STUDENTS 141 YEARS AGO, THE
SOCIETY HAS CARRIED ITS WORK AMONG THE POOR INTO AS MANY AREAS
AS POSSIBLE. THE SOCIETY'S WORK AMONG THE HOMELESSo THE YOUNG,
THE HANDICAPPED AND THE DISADVANTAGED, BOTH IN AUSTRALIA AND
OVERSEAS, TESTIFIES TO THE VIGOUR WITH WHICH THE PRINCIPLES SET
By FREDERICK OZANAM ONE OF THE GREAT CATHOLICS OF THE LAST 2oo
YEARS ARE BEING PURSUED.
THE NAME YOU HAVE CHOSEN FOR YOUR LATEST ENTERPRISE,
A NEW AGED PERSONS HOSTEL1 IS THEREFORE PARTICULARLY APPROPRIATE.
AND YOUR POLICY OF ADMITTING AGED PEOPLE ' TO THIS HOME ON THE BASIS
OF NEED IS IN LINE WITH THE HIGHEST IDEALS OF THE FOUNDER OF THE
SOCIETY. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IS HAPPY TO HAVE BEEN
ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ENDEAVOUR. CLEARLY THE 1297,000 WHICH THE
GOVERNMENT HAS PROVIDED UNDER THE AGED PERSONS HOSTELS ACT HAS
BEEN WELL DIRECTED.
ANOTHER SOURCE OF PLEASURE FOR ME IS TO SEE THAT, IN
ESTABLISHING THIS HOSTEL, THE SOCIETY HAS SHOWN A FULL AWARENESS
FOR A MODERN APPROACH TO HOUSING FOR THE AGED. THE BREAKDOWN
OF THE TRADITIONAL THREE-GENERATION FAMILY UNIT THROUGHOUT THE
WESTERN WORLD AND ITS REPLACEMENT BY THE SO-CALLED " 1NUCLEAR FAMILY" I

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HAS CREATED AN ENORMOUS PROBLEM WITH THE CARE OF THE AGED.
FOR TOO LONG THE PROBLEM WAS DEALT WITH BY PROVIDING ONLY ONE
CHOICE THE NURSING HOME FOR AGED PEOPLE WHO DID NOT HAVE
THEIR OWN HOME OR WHO COULD NO LONGER LIVE THERE. THIS FORCED
MANY AGED PEOPLE INTO A STYLE. OF ACCOMMODATION WHICH WAS NOT
APPROPRIATE TO THEIR NEEDS. MIANY OLD PEOPLE WHO WERE FIT AND
WILLING TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN THE SOCIETY AROUND THEM HAD
TO LIVE IN INSTITUTIONS WHICH WERE INTENDED FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE
LESS PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY CAPABLE.
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CARE
OF THE AGED IN RECENT YEARS HAS BEEN THE GROWING EMPHASIS ON
PROVIDING OTHER CHOICES FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE. THE GOVERNMENT
ACTIVELY SUPPORTS AN APPROACH BASED ON HAVING THREE TYPES OF
ACCOMMODATION PROVIDED FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE WHO NO LONGER CAN STAY
AT HOME. WE WANT TO SEE THESE PEOPLE BE ABLE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN
SELF-CONTAINED UNITS, HOSTEL-TYPE HOMES AND, ONLY WHERE THIS IS
MEDICALLY NECESSARY, NURSING HOMES. THE CREATION OF HOSTEL-TYPE
ACCOMMODATION HERE IN CAMPBELL BY THE ST. VINCENT DE PAUL
SOCIETY FULLY ACCORDS WITH THIS THREE-TIERED APPROACH.
M1UCH REMAINS TO BE DONE IN THIS AREA, EVEN NOW IT HAS
BEEN ESTIMATED THAT ABOUT 25 PER CENT OF PEOPLE CURRENTLY IN
NURSING HOMES SHOULD NOT BE THERE. WE MUST EXPLORE QUICKLY AND
VIGOROUSLY ALL POSSIBLE MEANS OF PROVIDING OTHER CHOICES FOR THE
AGED. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE LAST YEAR HAS TAKEN
SEVERAL IMPORTANT STEPS TO REVIEW AND REVISE THE APPROACH TO
AGED PERSONS HOUSING. THE NEWLY ESTABLISHED SOCIAL FELFARE
COMMISSION APPOINTED A COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO AGED PERSONS

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HOUSING IN JUNE 1973 AND IT GAVE AN INTERIM REPORT TO THE MINISTER
FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AT THE END OF NOVEMBER, IN KEEPING WITH THE
GOVERNMENT'S POLICY OF MAKING DOCUMENTS OF THIS KIND PUBLIC, THE
INTERIM REPORT WAS PROMPTLY TABLED IN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT, IT MADE
A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATIONS, PARTICULARLY RELATING TO
GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES, I EXPECT THAT CABINET WILL CONSIDER THE
REPORT AND MAKE A DECISION ON THESE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE NEXT
FEW WEEKS, MEANWHILE THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY WILL
CONTINUE AND I WOULD DRAW SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT
ONE OF ITS TERMS OF REFERENCE IS TO INQUIRE INTO ITHE NEED FOR
THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE ANY ALTERNATIVE OR ADDITIONAL
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS OF ASSISTANCE FOR THE HOUSING AND CARE OF THE
AGED, IN ADDITION TO THIS COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY, THE MINISTER
FOR SOCIAL SECURITY, MYR HAYDEN, EARLY LAST YEAR ASKED A STANDING
COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH AND IEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
TO INQUIRE INTO AND REPORT ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF GERIATRIC CARE
GENERALLY IN AUSTRALIA, THE COMMITTEE HAS BEEN MEETING REGULARLY
UNDER THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF DR DAVID DE SOUZA, AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD
OF GERIATRIC CARE, THE COMMITTEE IS EXPECTED TO REPORT TO MR HAYDEN
VERY SOON, ON ANOTHER FRONT, THE MINISTER FOR HOUSING, MR JOHNSON,
HAS ASKED THE STATISTICIAN TO CONDUCT A NATION-WIDE SURVEY OF
AGED PERSONS' HOUSING NEEDS, IN ASKING FOR THE SURVEY MR JOHNSON
DECLARED THAT THE STUDY WAS NECESSARY IF EFFECTIVE ACTION WAS TO
BE TAKEN TO SOLVE THE GRAVE HOUSING PROBLEMS NOW CONFRONTING MANY
AGED PERSONS, ESPECIALLY PENSIONERS, THE SURVEY IS SCHEDULED TO
BEGIN IN DECEMBER THIS YEAR,

THESE INVESTIGATIONS ARE NEEDED TO ENSURE THAT COMMUNITY
ACTIVITY IN THIS AREA IS APPROPRIATE TO THE NEEDS OF OUR SENIOR
CITIZENS. THE GOVERNMENT, HOWEVER, HAS NOT BEEN CONTENT TO DO NOTHING
FRESH WHILE IT AWAITS THE RESULTS OF THE STUDIES, IT HAS TAKEN
ACTION TO MAKE MORE MONEY AVAILABLE FOR AGED PERSONS HOUSING AND
FOR DOMICILIARY CARE FOR THE AGED, IN MARCH LAST YEAR IT ANNOUNCED
THAT PEOPLE CARING FOR SICK AGED RELATIVES IN NEED OF NURSING CARE
IN THEIR OWN HOMES WOULD BECOME ELIGIBLE FOR A 814 A WEEK GOVERNMENT
GRANT. IT HAS ENACTED AN AGED PERSONS HOMES BILL WHICH INCREASED
FROM 810 TO S12 A WEEK THE RATE OF SUBSIDY PAID TO ELIGIBLE
ORGANISATIONS WHICH PROVIDE PERSONAL CARE SERVICES FOR THE AGED
IN HOSTEL ACCOMMODATION,
TWO OTHER GOVERNMENT ACTIONS LAST YEAR WERE DIRECTED
TO THE NEED FOR IMPROVING HOME CARE FACILITIES FOR THE AGED.
THE DELIVERED MEALS SUBSIDY BILL WAS ENACTED TO INCREASE THE BASIC
RATE OF SUBSIDY PAID TO ".' lEALS-ON-' HEELS" SERVICES FROM 15 CENTS
TO 20 CENTS PER MEAL. THEN THE STATES GRANTS ( HOME CARE) BILL WAS
BROUGHT IN TO INFUSE EXTRA FUNDS INTO THE PRESENT HOME CARE
PROGRAM., THE BILL INCREASED THE GOVERNMENT'S GRANTS TO THE STATES
FROM A DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR BASIS TO 92 FOR EVERY รต 1 SPENT BY THE
STATES ON HOUSEKEEPER AND HOME HEALTH SERVICES AND SENIOR CITIZEN
CENTRES. IT ALSO INCREASED THE SUBSIDY FOR WELFARE OFFICERS
EMPLOYED FOR SENIOR CITIZEN CENTRES FROM HALF TO TWO-THIRDS OF
THEIR SALARY.

THE GOVERNMENT'S AIM WITH ALL OF THESE ACTIONS IS TO
ENSURE THAT ALL AGED PEOPLE THROUGHOUT AUSTRALIA CAN LIVE IN
COMFORT AND DIGNITY AND THAT ALL AGED PEOPLE CAN SPEND THEIR
TIME IN AN INTERESTING AND STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT.
TO ACHIEVE THIS AIM WE MUST ENSURE THAT WE ALLOW-J FOR T1HE
UTMOST FLEXIBILITY IN THE CARE OF THE AGED. 1! IE BELIEVE THAT, IF
AT ALL POSSIBLE, AGED PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO LIVE IN THEIR
OWN HOMES AND MUCH OF OUR ACTIVITY WILL BE DIRECTED TOWARDS THIS
END. VIE HOPE THAT THE AUSTRALIAN ASSISTANCE PLAN WILL PROVIDE A
FRAMEWORK FOR THIS. THiE PLAN, WHICH AIMS TO ASSIST IN THE
DEVELOPMENT AT A REGIONAL LEVEL OF NATIONALLY CO-ORDINATED
WELFARE ACTIVITY, WILL PROVIDE FOR COST SHARING WITH LOCAL
AUTHORITIES AND VOLUNTARY AGENCIES OVER A WIDE RANGE OF WELFARE
SERVICES. HOPE THAT THE PLAN WILL ENABLE GREATER ATTENTION TO
BE PAID TO HOME VISITING AND OTHER DOMICILIARY CARE SO THAT ELDERLY
PEOPLE CAN REMAIN IN THEIR OWN HOM1ES FOR AS LONG AS POSSIRLE.
THE GOVERNMENT IS ALSO EXAMiINING THE POSSIRILITY OF ESTABLISliING
DAY CARE CENTRES TO WHICH AGED PEOPLE WOULD GO FOR M1EDICAL
TREATMENT AND SERVICES, SUCH AS CHIROPODY, WHILE LIVING AT HOME.
THIS CONCEPT HAS THE ADDITIONAL ADVANTAGE THAT IT WOULD OFFER THE
POSSIBILITY OF REGULAR AND WIDE-RANGING SOCIAL CONTACT FOR
ELDERLY PEOPLE.

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WHETHER THE AGED LIVE AT HOME OR IN HOSTELS OR IN NURSING
HOMES, IT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY OBVIOUS THAT WE MUST DO ALL THAT
WE CAN TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM TO REMAIN INVOLVED IN THE
COMMUNITY AROUND THEM, THIS NEED IS FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED AND
A KIND OF GERIATRIC APARTHEID HAS RESULTED. THE GOVERNMENT BELIEVES
THAT WE MUST EXPLORE ALL POSSIBILITIES FOR WIDE-RANGING SOCIAL
CONTACT AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT FOR THE AGED. AS AN EXAMPLE, MR HAYDEN
HAS ASKED THE SOCIAL WELFARE COMMISSION TO LOOK AT THE POSSIBILITY
OF SENIOR CITIZEN CENTRES BEING USED AS A BASIS FOR DAY CARE SERVICES.
THIS WOULD ENABLE AGED PEOPLE TO LOOK AFTER CHILDREN WITH WHOM THEY
COULD DEVELOP A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP.
I AM SURE THAT THE SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SHARES
ALL OF THESE AIMS AND IDEALS. THROUGHOUT ITS HISTORY IT HAS
EMPHASISED THE NEED FOR PERSONAL CONTACT BETWEEN ITS WORKERS AND
THE PEOPLE WITH WHOM THEY ARE INVOLVED.
AGED PERSONS HOUSING AND DOMICILIARY CARE WILL NOT, OF
COURSE, BY THEMSELVES SATISFY OUR AIM OF ENSURING A COMFORTABLE
AND DIGNIFIED LIFE FOR THE AGED. THE GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO
IMPROVING THE LOT OF ELDERLY PEOPLE IN OTHER WAYS, PARTICULARLY
IN FINANCIAL TERMS. ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE FIRST SITTING OF THE
NEWLY ELECTED PARLIAMENT LAST YEAR A BILL WAS INTRODUCED TO INCREASE
PENSIONS BY $ 1.50 A WEEK. PAYMENT OF THE PENSION INCREASE WAS
MADE RETROSPECTIVE TO THE FIRST PAY DAY AFTER THE 1972 ELECTIONS.
THE BUDGET PROVIDED FOR A FURTHER INCREASE OF $ 1.50 A WEEK IN
PENSIONS IN THE SPRING. THESE TWO INCREASES HAVE MEANT THAT WITHIN
A YEAR PENSIONS HAVE RISEN BY 15 PER CENT, WHICH HAS ALLOWED THEM
TO KEEP AHEAD OF INFLATION.

14E HAVE CONSTANTLY RE-AFFIRMED r) IhR INTENTION TO LIFT
PENSIONS To 25 PER CENT OF AVERAGE WEEKLY MALE EARNINGS. IN KEEPING
WITH THIS AIM WE HAVE ALSO REPEATED OUR PLEDGE TO INCREASE PENSIONS
EACH SPRING AND AUTUMN UNTIL THIS LEVEL IS REACHED.
IN ADDITION TO THESE INCREASES, THE GOVERNMENT IS MOVING
TOWARDS THE ABOLITION OF THE MEANS TEST ON AGE PENSIONS. THE FIRST
STEP TOWARDS THIS OBJECTIVE WAS TAKEN IN THE BUDGET WITH THE ABOLITION
OF THE MEANS TEST FOR ALL PEOPLE AGED 75 OR MORE. ANOTHER STEP WILL
BE TAKEN IN THIS YEAR'IS BUDGET.
IN THIS CONTEXT OF LIBERALISATION I WOULD ALSO MENTION
A MEASURE OF PARTICULAR SIGNIFICANCE TO ELDERLY CITIZENS WHO HAVE
COME To AUSTRALIA FROM OTHER COUNTRIES. THE NATIONAL PARLIAMFNT
ENACTED LAST YEARl A BILL WHICH MAKES AVAILABLE AGE AND SOME OTHER
PENSIONS To AUSTRALIAN PENSIONERS WHO WISH TO LIVE IN ANY OTHEP
COUNTRY. NO LONGER WILL AN AGED PERSON WHO HAS WORKED HARD IN
AUSTRALI. A LOSE THE SOCIAL SERVICE FRUITS OF HIS LABOUR SIMPLY BECAUSE
HE WANTS TO SPEND HIS LAST YEARS IN HIS COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.
IN ALL THAT IT IS DOING, THE GOVERNMENT AIMS TO OVERCOME
THE DISADVANTAGES AND INEQUALITIES THAT TOO MANY AGED PEOPLE HAVE
SUFFERED IN THE PAST IN AUSTRALIA. BELIEVE THAT WITH PROPER
PLANNING AND ADEQUATE SPENDING WE CAN ERADICATE THE WORST OF THE
INEQUALITIES THAT AT PRESENT EXIST. WE BELIEVE THAT, BY CO-OPERATING
WITH VOLUNTARY AGENCIES SUCH AS THE SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL,
WE CAN ENABLE AGED PEOPLE TO HAVE THE DIGNITY AND COMFORT WHICH IS
THEIR RIGHT. WE APPLAUD ALL THAT YOUR SOCIETY HAS ACHIEVED IN THE PAST
AND WE KNOW4 WE CAN COUNT ON YOUR CO-OPERATION IN THE FUTURE.

Transcript 3153