Social security payments for the unemployed, the sick and those in special circumstances, 1942 to 2012: a chronology

Unemployment Social security Australia

This paper is a reference tool for those needing to locate specific changes in Australian social security and place them in their chronological context.

This chronology is one of several produced by the Parliamentary Library dealing with the history of social security payments.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) and their predecessor agencies (including the Department of Social Security (DSS)) administer, or have administered in the past, a number of payments for able-bodied work force aged people. Responsibility for delivery of the payments now rests with the Department of Human Services (DHS) (previously Centrelink). This paper provides a short history of the development of these payments and a chronology of changes to each payment from their introduction to the present day. Trends in the number of recipients of these payments can be found in Appendix A.

The paper is not a definitive treatment of the history of social security in Australia. It is a reference tool for those needing to locate specific changes quickly and place them in their chronological context. It also does not provide information on the availability of, and eligibility for, social security benefits.

The date from which measures have taken effect has been used to mark changes, not the date the legislation was passed. Many changes that appear at the time of updating to be of minor importance and small administrative modifications to payments have not been included.

Rates of payment are generally not given in the chronology text in the appendices, but can be found in the accompanying tables. In the text, imperial currency is used for payments prior to 1966 and decimal currency is used from that date, reflecting the legislation and commentary at the time. In the tables decimal currency is used throughout for comparison purposes.

Payments for sole parents (including those for widows with dependent children) are included in the chronology dealing with payments for people caring for children. Payments for widowed people are included in this document, but payments for students are generally not included, except where these relate to Youth Allowance which also applies to young people who are unemployed and looking for work.

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