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Health and Welfare

The government of Australia has played an important role in advancing social services. The country has a comprehensive social-security system. Assistance programs exist for people who are sick, disabled, aged, widowed, or unemployed. Medical and hospital benefits are paid by the federal government. Family-assistance programs provide support to income-eligible parents or legal guardians, including benefits for dependent children and maternity care. Allowances for child-care services are available to most families.

The Flying Doctor Service, founded in 1928, provides health-care services for people in remote areas. It serves about two-thirds of the country. Air ambulances provide emergency transportation, and trained medical staff are stationed at a number of bases from where they communicate by radio or telephone with distant ranches and settlements. Australia has one physician for every 401 people and one hospital bed for every 135 people.

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