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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 5 Hansard (11 April) . .

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This, of course, requires concerted and sustained effort, the harnessing of available resources and remaining focused on a long-term generational commitment that will utilise the considerable expertise that exists within the ACT across all the building blocks. The ACT government's formal response to this third report to the ACT government commits all ACT government agencies to provide full and effective support to the elected body.

While there are 24 recommendations, the elected body has prioritised four initiatives it would like to progress in partnership with the ACT government in the remaining 15 months of its current term. These priorities include: firstly, the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged-care and respite facility in Canberra; secondly, housing and accommodation support for the aged and disabled in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community; thirdly, an independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled child welfare organisation; and, finally, an ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stand-alone legal service.

An ACT government election commitment will ensure respite, accommodation and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with high support needs, including the aged and those with a disability, under the broader commitment of housing the most vulnerable in our community. This initiative will see the provision of specific, culturally appropriate respite accommodation at one site to cater for the elderly, the infirm and people with a disability in the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It is acknowledged that there is a need for a dedicated service that deals with the particular issues that older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are facing.

Currently the ACT Community Services and Health directorates are working with the elected body to develop independent living and low care options. The Community Services Directorate is currently working with its New South Wales counterpart and the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat in New South Wales to develop a regional Aboriginal child-care agency with a deep focus on child welfare. This model is currently being developed by New South Wales in partnership with Anglicare and a Queanbeyan-based Aboriginal corporation.

Finally, in terms of boosting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services, the parliamentary agreement for the Eighth Legislative Assembly provides an additional $100,000 per annum to Aboriginal legal services. The provision of Aboriginal legal services is essentially the responsibility of the commonwealth government. However, the ACT government will continue to influence the Australian government in the establishment of a dedicated ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service.

What this report, and the ACT government's response to it, essentially shows is that we are progressing work on reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage through our partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body. Together, we are focused on pursuing equitable outcomes for members of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It is about ensuring the progress that we are making in closing the gap on life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans and other Canberrans is focused, direct and, most importantly, effective.


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