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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1636..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

As an example of this, in the 2001-02 Budget consultation process, the Treasurer wrote to over eighty community groups in order to outline the Phase 11 budget consultation process and the avenues available through which they could provide input. Over 30 groups of those groups made well considered and valuable submissions direct to the Government. This is a considerable increase on the number of responses received by Government last year and perhaps belies the Committee's comment indicating that there was a lack of confidence about the process.

The Government agrees with 5 out of the eight funding allocations recommended by the committee.

The Committee recommended an allocation of $10,000 for Research/consultation to identify a model for youth-specific legal services. The Government has not agreed to this recommendation. There is no empirical evidence that there is any gap in provision of youth legal services. Legal aid from the Legal Aid Commission may be readily accessed by youth who almost always meet the relevant means test. Indigenous youth may, as an alternative, access legal aid through the Aboriginal Legal Service. Services in specialist areas including welfare and tenancy are also provided by Community Legal Centres funded by government.

The sorts of problems encountered by youth are the same as those encountered by the community at large, and it is expertise in the relevant areas of law, rather than expertise in 'youth' which should be the focus of legal aid services. The unnecessary creation of yet another legal aid provider would further fragment the legal aid dollar and result in funds being wasted on duplicated infrastructure. It is also likely that the quality and breadth of legal services available to youth would decline because any new CLC would necessarily be small and would not be able to call on the levels of expertise available to the Legal Aid Commission.

The committee also recommended $50,000 additional funding for the Law Reform Commission for on-the-ground research staff. This recommendation was pre-empted by Government decision to provide, as a new initiative, $50,000 for this purpose in the 2001-02 budget.

The Committee further recommended that funding be provided for community education in Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and early access to emergency services. The Government does not agree this recommendation. While this proposal was highly regarded, it was considered that there was sufficient private sector involvement in the delivery of community education programs to make direct Government involvement unwarranted at this time.

The committee also recommended that if additional funding became available it should be allocated to: addressing the crisis at Belconnen Remand Centre; capital works for the construction of the prison, the Quamby gymnasium and Quamby reception centre; diversionary programs for youth at risk; therapeutic projects for young offenders; and early intervention in disadvantaged families.

The Government has noted the committee's priorities and has either addressed or is currently addressing them. The funding requirements for the Belconnen Remand Centre, and Quamby are being addressed by Government. The BRC has additional funding of $549,000 recurrent and $900,000 Capital expenditure included in the 2001-02 Budget. A feasibility study to identify improvements to the Quamby Detention Facility is also included in the 2001-02 Capital Works Program. Diversionary programs for youth at risk; therapeutic projects for young offenders; and early intervention in disadvantaged families are also being catered for in


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