In the 1980s, the Department of Social Security established new remote offices and expanded the Aboriginal Liaison Officer program. These artefacts include early examples of the department communicating in language and through videos. Also included are key reports that evaluated the effectiveness of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
DSS promotes payments for people with disability
In a special edition of Aboriginal Quarterly, the government promoted help for Aboriginal people with disability and featured Aboriginal voices in articles for the International Year of Disabled Persons.
Aboriginality of people getting payments not recorded
After DSS stopped recording the number of Aboriginal people receiving payments, the shadow minister criticised the department and asked about people missing out.
Video shows importance of Aboriginal Liaison Officers in communities
In 1982, DSS made a video about Aboriginal Liaison Officer Andrew Thomas to show his work helping people in regional communities access government services.
Aboriginal Senator explains DSS payments
DSS began making their information more accessible for Aboriginal people in the 1980s. An early example is this video featuring Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal person in federal Parliament.
Torres Strait Islander’s activism leads to change
In her autobiographies, Ellie Gaffney discussed her work advocating for direct payments for Torres Strait Islander people and for a DSS office to be established on Thursday Island.
DSS servicing for Aboriginal people expands in Tasmania
It took time and activism to establish government services for Aboriginal people in Tasmania. These DSS newsletters introduce the first Tasmanian Aboriginal Liaison Officer in 1984 and show how services expanded into the 1990s.
Oral history reveals difficulties seeking financial security
Even when government help was available, it was often not enough to help disadvantaged Aboriginal families out of poverty. One man’s oral history shows years of upheaval trying to find security for his family.
The Miller report supports self-determination in employment policies
An influential report on government programs recommended changes to improve employment and education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Aboriginal Liaison Officers explain their role to customers
DSS made a video to show the work of Aboriginal Liaison Officers in Darwin and to remind customers of what they needed to let the department know about.
Senior Aboriginal public servant reflects on history of discrimination
DSS Director Eleanor Bourke presented a concise timeline of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's access to government payments at a youth conference.
Task force recommends social security changes
DSS commissioned a report from the Remote Area Task Force in 1986. They recommended changes to support a more regular income flow to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers and to recognise cultural practices.
Poster shows Aboriginal Liaison Network
DSS made a poster to put up in offices to show staff the national network of Aboriginal Liaison Officers.
Aboriginal Liaison Officers share experiences in training video
To train Aboriginal Liaison Officers, DSS created a video with stories from officers around the country.
Celebrity presents DSS training video
Cultural awareness and sensitivity became a priority for DSS. The department created a training video featuring an Aboriginal celebrity to encourage all staff to improve services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers.
Review examines Australia’s social security system
The Social Security Review reported on improving Australia’s social security system and recommended policy changes to government. The review influenced decisions throughout the 1990s.
DSS reviews policy on Aboriginal marriage practices
DSS’s policy on supporting multiple wives from traditional marriages was unclear in the late 1980s. Research into the issue suggested solutions.