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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4363..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

appropriate strategies to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to address trauma, regain confidence, build self-esteem and strengthen cultural identity. The deleterious effects of substance abuse, the many factors contributing to the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system and the many factors contributing to the disparity between the educational outcomes of indigenous people, particularly children and youth, were those of the wider community. Working groups consisting of community representatives and ACT and Australian government officials have been set up around these four key areas. Their job is to identify the major needs and issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, recognise exactly what services there are and what they are doing and then advise where there are gaps in service provision.

The government recognises the importance of giving communities the power to influence decisions that affect their lives and to work with governments in a collaborative way to achieve better outcomes. We have a proud record of cooperation, of listening and of acting in the best interests of indigenous Canberrans.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR STANHOPE: Since taking office, the government has forged strong partnerships and plans to better facilitate and coordinate the delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the territory. The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Council has been a major partner in the process of building stronger relations with the indigenous community and enhancing indigenous government structures within the ACT. As I previously mentioned, this is at a time when the federal government has dismantled indigenous government structures at a national level.

The consultative council recently launched its strategic plan 2004-07. The strategic plan is designed to achieve equity and better access to services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT. Its foundation is a strategic partnership with the ACT government and it links with other planning mechanisms and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in a combined effort to provide efficient and effective services to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Soon after we took office we moved quickly to establish the United Ngunnawal Elders Council. It is another example of the government building partnerships and enhancing the government structures within the community. The establishment of the council greatly facilitates the delivery of services to the traditional owners and custodians of the ACT and ensures that priorities and service delivery are identified by council representatives and communicated directly to the government.

It is important for us all to feel a part of our community and to have a sense of belonging. In consultation with the Elders Council we now have "Welcome to Ngunnawal Country" signs at the main entrances to the territory. Elders on the council take turns in performing "Welcome to Country" ceremonies at official events and functions. My ministers and I make a point of acknowledging the Ngunnawal as the traditional custodians of the ACT in our public speeches.

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