Window of opportunity for welfare services

Australia is well-placed to develop-and redesign if necessary-its welfare services to meet future demands and changing family circumstances, according to Australia's Welfare 1997, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's third biennial report on the nation's welfare services and assistance.

The 430-page report will be launched at 11.40am on Thursday by the Minister for Family Services, the Hon Mr Warwick Smith, MP, in the Parliamentary Theatre at Parliament House, Canberra. The report covers the areas of: welfare services expenditure, children's and family services, housing assistance, children in need of protection, services for homeless people, aged care, and disability services.

A special feature chapter documents family changes in Australia since the mid-1970s, and examines the implications for welfare services of the current diversity of family arrangements and likely future changes in the family. Professor Peter McDonald of the Australian National University wrote this chapter.

Editor of Australia's Welfare 1997, Ms Helen Moyle, said the data presented in the report helped governments and the community more clearly see changes in areas of need, and the results of what is being done in terms of service provision, service use, and service outcomes.

'For example, a decline in the number of births will, somewhat ironically, go hand-in-hand with an increase in demand for child care as mothers continue to work. At the other end of the life-cycle, over the next decade there will be sharp rises in the numbers of people aged 75 and over living alone. This will place heavier demands on privately provided community care and Home and Community Care Services.'

Ms Moyle said that Australia's Welfare 1997 can be used as a specialist reference in a particular field, or as a general reference on welfare services in Australia.

Australia's Welfare 1997 shows that Australia is spending more on welfare services per person than ever before. Welfare services expenditure by governments and non-government organisations in 1995-96 was $8.9 billion or $489 per person. This is an increase in real terms of 62 percent, or 51 percent per person, since 1989-90.

Australia's Welfare 1997 is the most comprehensive and authoritative consolidation of nationally-available information on welfare services in Australia. It will be available for sale from Governmentt Info Shops and ABS Bookshops in all capital cities and by Mail Order from the Australian Government Publishing Service for $35.

20 November 1997


Further information: Ms Helen Moyle (Editor), ph. 02 6244 1188 or 02 6249 8801 (ah); Dr Diane Gibson (Aged Care), ph. 04 1924 0353 (mobile); Ms Helen Moyle (Children's and Family Services), ph. 02 6244 1188; Ms Anne Broadbent (Children in Need of Protection), ph. 02 6244 1157; Ms Ros Madden (Disability Services), ph. 02 6244 1189; Mr John Goss (Expenditure), ph. 02 6244 1151; Prof. Peter McDonald (Families and Welfare Services), ph. 02 6249 2129; or Mr David Wilson (Housing Assistance), ph. 02 6244 1202.
General media enquiries: Nigel Harding, Head - Communication and Public Affairs, ph. 02 6244 1025 or 02 6282 0639 (ah).
Availability: Check the AIHW for details.