Artefacts about Legislation
A new Act brought a range of social services together under federal government responsibility. It excluded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from payments unless they had an exemption.
Cabinet discussed changing discriminatory social services law several times during the 1950s. While these conversations eventually led to change, there was opposition at every step.
The Social Services Act of 1947 was amended in 1959 and some of the discriminatory passages were removed. However, it continued to exclude some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from social services.
A leaflet calling for Aboriginal affairs to become a federal government responsibility showed how state-based laws that governed Aboriginal people differed and led to inequality.
Amendments to this Act in 1966 removed references to Aboriginal people altogether, meaning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in theory had equal access to government payments. However, discrimination continued.
The government simplified social security legislation, with the intention of making it easier to understand. They also included passages encouraging positive change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The creation of Centrelink in 1997 started a new era of social service delivery in Australia.