Principal ensures students get payments
Getting access to payments often relied on direct advocacy. Letters from the principal of an Aboriginal co-operative school provide examples.
... the men of the Yarrabah community who are involved in the Aboriginal Co-operative Summer School will not have their Social Security payments disturbed during their absence.
Because the social services system was quite complex, people with special circumstances sometimes missed out. Writing to government about claims was an important part of ensuring people got the payments they were eligible for.
These examples show Reverend William ‘Alf’ Clint advocating for Aboriginal students who were seeking study and training.
Clint was the principal of Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative College in Sydney. He established cooperatives in Aboriginal communities throughout the 1950s and set up Tranby in 1958 to train Aboriginal people to run their own cooperatives (Morris 1993). Tranby was one of the earliest adult education institutions for Aboriginal people.
In these letters, Clint asked the government for Child Endowment payments on behalf of 2 teenage Aboriginal students from Alice Springs who joined Tranby in 1969. For this to happen, the government had to consider Tranby an ‘endowed institution’.
The Department of Social Security (DSS) approved this claim in late 1970. Tranby was funded mostly from donations, so the Child Endowment payments would have helped.
This file also shows Clint’s correspondence with the government about payments for people visiting Tranby. Clint was inviting a number of Yarrabah men to attend summer school in between seasonal work in Far North Queensland.
In the letters sent in early 1973, Clint writes to the DSS asking for assurance that these men’s families wouldn’t lose their payments while they were at Tranby. Minister for Social Security, Bill Hayden, instructed DSS to make sure these men would ‘not have their social security payments disturbed during their absence’.
These examples from Tranby highlight how important it was for the government to consider people’s individual circumstances.
Policies of self-determination, which became prominent in the 1970s, meant that more and more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were looking for ways to take control of their own affairs. This happened at Tranby in the late 1970s when Aboriginal people, including Kevin Cook, began managing the c-ooperative.
The names of people in this file were redacted from the excerpts.
These letters from Reverend William Clint were kept in a file by the Department of Social Services, which became the Department of Social Security. The file was later transferred to the National Archives of Australia, which holds it as part of the national archival collection.
Access this correspondence through RecordSearch, the online catalogue of the National Archives of Australia.
Permission to reproduce this excerpt was provided by Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training.
Permission to include the letters about Yarrabah was granted by the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council.
National Archives of Australia: Department of Social Services; A1933, Personal benefit case files, 1967–1974; 1970/1909, Reverend William A CLINT - Request for student child endowment, 1970–1973.