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This edition of the annual Diary of Social Legislation and Policy records changes made during 1996 in Commonwealth Government social policy and legislation. It provides a ready reference for students, researchers and workers in government and service organisations as it draws together information from a range of sources relating to the development of new policy and legislation, funding of government programs, and recommendations for change in policy and legislation from reviews, inquiries and commissioned research. Commonwealth legislation and policy developments covered in this 1996 report include: the introduction of a differentiated contribution structure for the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), determined by course studied; a new approach and funding for quality improvement in higher education; funding for a National Literacy Survey and a Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System; the negotiation of a new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement; funding for a Youth Homelessness Pilot Programme, with the objective of reducing levels of chronic homelessness; funding to expand services for marriage and relationship education; additional funding for a National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy; amendments to the Child Support legislation to improve payment procedures; funding to establish a new Rural Health Training Unit in Alice Springs; and the introduction of a Maternity Allowance for all mothers both inside and outside the paid workforce. Other developments included are: the introduction of a Family Tax Initiative to assist low and middle income families; the establishment of a new Services Delivery Agency to deliver all Social Security programs and some Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs programs; the establishment of a National Campaign Against Violence and Crime; a review of the Child Care Accreditation System; the introduction of a single residential classification to streamline the nursing homes and hostels systems; the restructuring of employment assistance services, including those for people with a disability; new initiatives in primary health and hearing programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; a National Childhood Immunisation Program and the launch of the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register; increases in health and medical research grants awarded through the National Health and Medical Research Council; an inquiry into public housing; and the release of an Action Plan on Social and Emotional Well-Being.