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Aboriginal media figure explains changes to payments for women

When women started to get government payments themselves, DSS produced a video tailored to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

You’ll get a letter from Social Security about these changes … If you’re not sure what you need to do, contact an AILO from Social Security or talk to a Community Agent.

Michelle Tuahine for DSS, 1995
About the artefact

In the 1990s, the government introduced more payments for caregivers, which were intended for women. Before this, male partners received the payments and the expectation was that they would share it with their wives and children.

The Department of Social Security (DSS) made this video in 1995 to let Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers know about changes to several payments.


Gangulu and Ngāti Kahungunu woman, Michelle Tuahine, presents the video. In the full version, Tuahine appears with mothers and children at the local Palm Island school. The version used here has been edited to include only Tuahine as the others in the video weren’t able to provide permission.

In these excerpts, Tuahine outlines changes to Partner Allowance, Parenting Allowance and Home Child Care Allowance. She says viewers can contact local Aboriginal and Islander Liaison Officers and Community Agents for help.

Image still from video. Michelle Tuahine is centred, looking at the camera. Her name is in a caption at the bottom of the screen. There is a light green building behind her and some foliage in the foreground.
Michelle Tuahine in DSS video Parenting and Partner Allowance

The changes to these payments were part of a broader policy shift towards treating women as economically independent.

The government was making a lot of changes to payments and programs at the time, and needed to regularly communicate these changes to customers. In 1994 DSS had produced a live broadcast and advertisements introducing these payments. Both videos reflect how the department engaged with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the 1990s.

Source details

This video was edited to a short excerpt to only show people who gave their permission for use. The full video and original VHS are held in the Department of Social Services Library.


Permission to use these excerpts was granted by Michelle Tuahine.


Department of Social Security (1995) Parenting and Partner Allowances [video], Corporate Television Unit, Department of Social Security, Australian Government, Canberra.

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