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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 2 Hansard (23 February) . . Page.. 515..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

but I think that we should be doing more than making nice speeches about them. What we really need to see is effective policy that addresses their needs, effective policy that does not put barriers in their way.

I think one of the most affecting experiences I had during the last election campaign was being invited to a Carers ACT election forum. And the boot was put on the other foot, because the election candidates who turned up were not asked to give their views; they were asked to sit down and listen—sit down and listen to the stories of people who live difficult lives because of their caring responsibilities and because of the physical circumstances of the people that they care for.

The clear message out of that was that people needed to be listened to. They need their issues taken seriously; they need solutions; and we need something more than platitudinous policies. Our policies cannot be just filled with platitudes; they have to be effective and produce real solutions for people who do live in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. We need to cut the bureaucracy; we need to have people who are providing services listening to people who need the service—listening to them, hearing them and responding to their needs, not trying to fit square pegs in round holes, which is often the case.

I thank Ms Porter for bringing this matter here today but I hope that, in doing so, we just do not sit down and feel comfortable that we have raised the issue. We need to do much more than raise the issue. We need to work with all of our constituents to make sure that the lives that they lead are more fruitful and less troublesome because of what we do in this place.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): On the matter of public importance, there being no member rising, the discussion is concluded.

Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.10), in reply: I would like to thank members for their general support of this bill today. The bill amends the Human Rights Commission Act 2005 and other legislation relating to the functions of the Human Rights Commission.

The commission deals with complaints about discrimination, health services, disability services and services for children and young people, as well as services for senior citizens. The commission also has an important role in developing awareness in government and the broader community of human rights and the Human Rights Act.

Since its formation, the commission has further refined processes to better fulfil its statutory obligations. The amendments in this bill were identified by the commission as necessary to better discharge its role in dealing with complaints and fulfilling its legislative mandate. As I indicated in introducing this bill, these amendments can be broken into three categories: procedural issues under the Human Rights Commission Act, updates to the Discrimination Act and a minor change to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act.

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