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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004-2005 Week 1 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 88..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

government will maintain the same fiscal policy that has led to the endorsement of the economy by grading agencies and by informed commentators.

The government strategies and objectives are articulated for the entire community to see and to scrutinise. The Canberra plan has been supported by genuine, ongoing and successful activities for the past three years. This record has received due recognition at the ballot box. The next four years will see the further realisation of what we have presented to the people of the ACT in our plan.

Vulnerable people

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Dr Foskey proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The importance of comprehensive and effective statutory oversight of services and support for Canberra's vulnerable people.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.04): Today I address the response of the government to the Review of Statutory Oversight and Community Advocacy Agencies conducted by the Foundation for Effective Marketing and Governance, hereinafter in my speech called FEMAG. In particular, I comment upon the new human rights and service review commission that will be created.

The plan is to incorporate into the commission the offices of the existing Human Rights Commissioner, ACT Discrimination Commissioner and health services commissioner together with a newly created disability services commissioner and community services commissioner.

The importance of this commission to the most vulnerable people in our community cannot be underestimated. The role of these commissioners and others who may be appointed later is to ensure that the services and supports that our community provides for people in need are adequate and appropriate to the task; that they are of a high quality and provided in such a way as to empower and support individuals to live valued and contributing lives.

These commissioners in effect give such people a voice and an opportunity to have their issues taken seriously and addressed. Systems, bureaucracy and service providers are notorious for becoming inward looking and failing to pay sufficient attention to responding to the needs of the people they were set up to serve.

The role of the commissioners, in part, is to aid the recognition that this might be occurring and to suggest ways in which the necessary refocusing can take place. To do this well, it is vital that the commissioners not be inhibited from dealing with the true picture and circumstances of the lives of people concerned, and that they have the necessary power and jurisdiction to look at the totality of what is happening and to make recommendations that are likely to result in changes to people's lives.

In other jurisdictions, commissioners have played an important role in identifying and investigating systemic failure, in addition to failure to perform by particular service


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