Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2536..
MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (11.05): Mr Speaker, I am happy to rise to support the motion which Mr Wood has moved and to use the opportunity to indicate the value that the community ought to be placing on unpaid work, not just to the fact of unpaid work, but to the proper measurement of unpaid work.
Just as an aside to begin with, Mr Wood makes the point that the motion calls on the ACT government to express a view to the federal government. It does not do that; it actually asks the Assembly to advise the federal government of the ACT's view. I will take it that he means that the ACT government should do that, but that it is not quite what the motion says.
Mr Speaker, an enormous quantity of volunteer or unpaid work or inadequately paid work occurs in this community, as in every other community, every day of the year. It is, of course, impossible for any community to pay for all of the work which is done either on its behalf directly or on its behalf indirectly in the maintenance of a variety of social structures and institutions which promote the wellbeing of the community, one might say the social capital of the community. That work is performed in all sorts of ways. It is performed in school tuckshops, in living rooms, in organisations that provide care and in charities-in settings which are as numerous as the variety of human experience.
We need to be fully aware, particularly this year, the International Year of the Volunteer, of how vast and how important that voluntary contribution, that unpaid contribution, is to the vitality and wellbeing of this community. Indeed, without it at the levels experienced in this country, the very quality of life of this nation would deteriorate remarkably and the capacity of the community to perform a whole range of functions deemed important to the community simply would disappear. We need to treasure the value of that unpaid work and to ensure that it is properly recognised, promoted and encouraged.
Mr Speaker, one way of doing that is to properly measure it and record it to ensure that as a community we know, at least roughly, what kind of unpaid labour is occurring in our community so that we can structure services around that unpaid work. This is not merely a case of being able to say thank you to the people who perform unpaid work in a variety of settings, important as that is. It is a question about constructing facilities and services around the provision or the occurrence of that unpaid work. For example, knowing that a certain amount of unpaid work occurs outside the home helps in the construction of better transport facilities. Knowing that unpaid work consists of providing care to other people at a certain level assists us in constructing services for carers, such as the possibility of providing insurance coverage and arrangements for proper facilities, venues and other places where this work can occur. It dictates issues such as the hours of opening and access for certain government services. Indeed, a whole host of questions flow from having proper knowledge and information about the extent of volunteering for unpaid work.
The measurement of unpaid work in our community is a very important indicator of the health of the community. It is a reflection of community participation and support and, as I have said, it contributes to the social capital of this city. The contribution in the form of unpaid work is often invisible, especially for domestic work and work caring for children, for elderly people and for people who are ill. The contribution in the form of