1 Office of Economic and Statistical Research discover more about historical Queensland Q150 Digital Books Section Details Name: Queensland Past and Present: 100 Years of Statistics, Section name: Chapter 9, Social Welfare, Section 1 Pages: Printing notes (Adobe Acrobat): For best results Page Scaling should be set to Fit to Printable Area. Auto Rotate and Center should also be checked. Licence for use: This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit You are free to copy, communicate and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the authors. Return to Q150 Collection:http://www.oesr.qld.gov.au/q150 The State of Queensland 2009
2 CHAPTER 9 SOCIAL WELFARE Queensland's social fabric is supported by a network of social security and welfare services provided by the State and Commonwealth Governments and voluntary organisations to disadvantaged persons. The standard of social welfare enjoyed by the community in 1996 was unknown in There was no equivalent in the Australian colonies of the English Poor Law, which imposed upon the State the duty to support all who were destitute. The Queensland Government acknowledged some responsibility to help certain groups within the community, for example, the young, the elderly and the mentally handicapped, but was content to leave most of the responsibility for providing relief to voluntary organisations. In some instances these organisations received a government subsidy. Since 1896 there has been an increasing level of government involvement in the administration and funding of social welfare programs, particularly since World War II. 'Social welfare' describes a system of re-allocations within a society where benefits are distributed to individuals and communities so that they might attain a certain standard of living. Such a system usually includes social security payments and welfare services. 'Social security' normally refers specifically to cash benefits that replace or supplement income. 'Welfare' usually consists of assistance and services other than cash benefits, and can include the provision of a range of welfare services, for example, residential institutions for children, operation of hostels, foster care and adoption services. DEVELOPMENTS IN SOCIAL WELFARE In the nineteenth century poverty was widely thought to be caused either by external misfortune such as flood or fire, or by the individual due to traits such as alcoholism or laziness. This view led to the often subjective division between the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor. Relief to the deserving poor was intended to build their reserves so that the need for relief would not recur; assistance to the undeserving poor was seen as only maintaining bad habits. Relief provided by the Government such as that during the floods of 1893 was usually in kind. It was thought that the provision of direct State cash aid undermined self-determination and self-reliance of the individual and encouraged pauperism, a condition considered by a Select Committee of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1896 to be 'about as contagious as small-pox'
3 QUEENSLAND PAST AND PRESENT In 1896 groups that the Queensland Government was most directly involved with were orphans, other destitute children, the mentally ill, the destitute, the aged and the infirm. For these persons the State provided residential institutions as well as subsidies to voluntary organisations. The Government maintained orphanages, and a Benevolent Institution for the aged, the disabled and the poor at Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island. Other disadvantaged members of the community, such as the blind, deaf and dumb, the sick, the unemployed, and unmarried mothers and their children, were often left without provision. Voluntary organisations and church groups in Queensland provided limited social welfare services to the community, which included hospitals, asylum for adults and infants, refuges and homes, the Ambulance Transport Brigade, an institution for the blind, deaf and dumb, and societies such as the Salvation Army, Brisbane City Mission and St Vincent de Paul Society. These institutions gave minimal relief in kind after careful investigation to ensure that the potential recipient was 'deserving'. Apart from small subsidies to these bodies, the Government was unwilling to accept further financial responsibility or to undertake the actual administration of relief. Changes that were occurring in society boosted demand for social welfare. As longevity increased, the number of aged and infirm persons needing care grew. The urbanisation of society and the problems presented by deserted families, illegitimate children and unemployed breadwinners became more pressing as poor families were unable to meet the costs of caring for aged, sick or disabled relatives without a wider circle of kin to support them. In times of economic depression, such as the first half of the 1890s, the system of private charity proved inadequate and the plight of the less fortunate was exacerbated. The Queensland Government was forced to supplement the financial basis of the voluntary organisations. This funding occurred at a time when governments of, for example, Scandinavia, Germany and New Zealand began to assume a broader responsibility for social welfare. Overseas developments influenced the thinking of Australian politicians. In the early twentieth century State Governments and then the Commonwealth Government introduced age and invalid pensions. Despite the two principal objections people raised against the introduction of a general system of age pensions its cost and its tendency to reduce thrift the New South Wales Government introduced a system of non-contributory age pensions in September Queensland implemented a similar system in In 1909 the Commonwealth Government provided a national system of age pensions and in 1910 invalid pensions: Schemes of aged and invalid pensions were put in place, first at State, and later the Commonwealth, levels of government. Those programmes were heavily infused with the values and philosophy of 'social deserts'. Need, of itself, was seen as an entirely inadequate justification for attracting government support. Public moneys were to be expended only on citizens of long standing who, by their endeavours in years past, had laid the foundations for community well-being. Support was extended to the aged and to invalids on the basis that they had contributed to community prosperity, and were now unable to participate in productive activity, or that, through no fault of their own, they were denied that opportunity to participate. 2 In 1912 the Commonwealth Government introduced a system of maternity allowances. The Queensland Government started an unemployment insurance scheme in 1923, while the Commonwealth paid an institutional pension to all eligible inmates of benevolent asylums from that year. 278
4 Table 9.1 Current expenditure on social security and welfare by Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments, Australia, to Year p p = preliminary. Commonwealth , , , ,112.0 States and territories $m , ,830.0 SOCIAL WELFARE , , , ,942.0 Source: W. Vamplew (ed.), Australians: Historical Statistics, Broadway, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates; ABS, Commonwealth Government Finance, Australia, various issues, Cat. no ; ABS, State and Local Government Finance, Australia, various issues, Cat. no ; ABS, Government Financial Estimates Cat.no After the Commonwealth Government took over collection of income tax from the states in 1942, it became increasingly involved in the formulation of social legislation. Child endowment was introduced on a national level in 1941, and widow pensions in A revision of the maternity allowance, funeral benefits for deceased invalid and age pensioners, and pharmaceutical, hospital and tuberculosis benefits were introduced in 1944 and Civilian rehabilitation began in 1948, pensioner medical services in 1951, a medical benefits scheme in 1953 and universal health insurance in Expenditure on social welfare increased significantly. Table 9.1 shows the level of current (that is, non-capital) expenditure on social security and welfare services from to Expenditure by both Commonwealth and State Governments has increased sharply since the beginning of the twentieth century. The financial commitment of the Commonwealth Government accelerated after World War II. Of the estimated $49,942m in expenditure on social security and welfare by Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments in Australia in , the Commonwealth Government spent $46,112m (or 92.3%). Social security and welfare is the largest single component of government outlays. Expenditure on social welfare by all levels of government in Australia for is shown in table 9.2. While 26.1% of total government expenditure was for social security and welfare services, most of this allocation was for social security (22.5%). A high proportion of expenditure on social security and welfare was current expenditure, including direct cash payments to social security recipients and operating costs of the Department of Social Security. Social security payments are funded by the Commonwealth Government. However, the funding and administration of welfare services is more complex: Welfare services can be planned, financed and provided by any one of the three levels of government, or by organisations operating on a private-for-profit basis, or by the community social welfare 279
5 QUEENSLAND PAST AND PRESENT Table 9.2 Expenditure on social security and welfare and all expenditure by all levels of government, Australia, Social security and welfare Social security Welfare services Other social security and welfare All expenditure Current 39,793 4,668 1,401 45, ,761 Source: ABS, Government Finance Statisticx , Cat. no Capital $m ,293 39,805 4,905 1,499 46, ,054 Proportion of total budget % organisations which operate on a private-not-for-profit basis, or by households. While there may have been changes in the respective roles of the government and the non-government sectors in the provision of welfare services, non-government organisations have always been important in both funding and delivering welfare services. 3 Historical data disaggregating Commonwealth Government funding of social welfare by State is not readily available. In Queensland Government expenditure on charities was $367,062, increasing to $1.867m in 1920 and to $2.461m in These figures were not published in the Commonwealth Year Book after 1928, due to data reliability concerns. 4 Current expenditure on welfare services in Queensland increased from $61 a person in to $107 a person in (table 9.3). These amounts were consistently lower than for Australia. Expenditure from State funds was lower in Queensland than for other States. In the Queensland Government spent $75 a person on welfare, lower than any other State Government. However, the average annual growth rate for spending on welfare services by the Queensland Government from to was 6.5% compared with an average of 4.8% for all State Governments. Table 9.3 Current government expenditure per person on welfare services (a), Queensland and Australia, to State funds only Commonwealth and State funds Year Queensland Australia Queensland Australia j Average annual growth rate to (%) (a) The term 'welfare services' is defined by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare as including aged care services, child care services, services for people with disabilities, housing assistance, child welfare services and other community services. It excludes cash payments (for example, social security and long term housing assistance) with the exception of cash provisions tied to specific forms of assistance (for example, child care cash rebate scheme, rent assistance and domiciliary nursing care benefit). Certain health-related components of aged care services, in particular nursing homes and domiciliary nursing services, are also excluded. Source: Commonwealth Grants Commission expenditure database, and ABS, Australian Demographic Statistics, December qtr J994,C'dl. no , in Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia's Welfare
6 SOCIAL WELFARE Table 9.4 Social security expenditure by broad type of pension or allowance (a), Queensland, and Type of pension or allowance Age pension (b) Disability and sickness allowances Unemployment allowances (c) Family payments (d) Payments for special circumstances (d) $'000 14,478 n.a ,884 1,588 31, ,051, ,628 1,392,502 1,822,713 88,426 6,312, % n.a (a) For includes only those pension payments that were comparable to payments made in by Department of Social Security to its clients; for example, war and service pensions that were not administered by DSS in are also excluded from For comprises payments to DSS clients, and excludes DSS running costs and corporate overheads. (b) For includes disability and sickness allowances. (c) For includes sickness benefits. (d) For widow pensions were included in payments for special circumstances. For Widow Pension Class A was included in family payments, and Widow Pension Class B and Widow Allowance were included in payments for special circumstances. Source: GSO, Queensland Year Book 1952; Department of Social Security, DSS Clients: A Statistical Overview SOCIAL SECURITY The history of most of the pensions and allowances available in the 1990s can be traced to the 1890s depression and the early decades of the twentieth century. Expenditure on pensions and allowances and the number of recipients has increased rapidly, especially since the 1950s. Department of Social Security expenditure on pensions and allowances in Queensland increased from $31.2m in to $6,312.4m in (table 9.4). The respective proportion of payments to the four groups aged, disabled, unemployed and families reflects long-term economic and social trends and the changing demographics of the population. The proportion of payments that went to unemployed persons increased from 0.8% in to 22.1% in The high proportion spent on families and children in partly reflected the postwar baby boom. While 18.0% of Australia's population lived in Queensland in , a slightly higher proportion of Australia's social security payments (18.6%) went to persons in this State (table 9.5). A lower proportion of social security expenditure in Queensland (32.5%) was on age pensions compared with Australia (35.0%). A higher proportion of expenditure in Queensland was on family related payments (28.9%) compared with Australia (25.7%). A further 22.1% of expenditure in Queensland was on unemployment allowances, about the same as Australia (21.9%). In June 1996 the number of persons in Queensland receiving the Family Payment was highest of all pensions and allowances (349,799 families, involving 678,148 children), followed by the Age Pension (267,516 persons), Parenting Allowance (127,773 persons), Job Search Allowance (104,031 persons), Disability Support Pension (88,312 persons), Home Child Care Allowance (71,801 persons), Sole Parent Pension (69,341 persons) and Newstart Allowance (61,193 persons) (table 9.6). Nearly twice as many females as males received the Age Pension, whereas more than twice as many males as females were paid the Disability Support Pension. 281