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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4134 ..

I would also like to put on record my thanks to Brianna McGill, who is the secretary of the JACS committee. I see Dr Paterson nodding. I think that is somewhere in the tri-partisan agreement and that we can agree. I am sure Ms Clay agrees as well that she is a fantastic committee secretary. And, of course, I thank the staff—Julia and others who work on behalf of the scrutiny committee as well. I see Ms Stephen-Smith is here to resume the festivities. Merry Christmas to you all.


MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (5.55), in reply: It is a real pleasure to be the last person to speak in the Assembly for 2021. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on a year that has been marked, if nothing else, by resilience.

I thank Mr Hanson for his filibustering effort on my behalf while I was on radio. It was an opportunity for him to put forward his leadership credentials, by being able to stand there and criticise the government off the cuff. I am glad it provided an opportunity for Mr Hanson!

As with everyone else, I want to take this opportunity to thank many people at the end of this busy and difficult year. I want to start by thanking the Community Services Directorate, particularly the Children, Youth and Families Division, the teams supporting strategic policy and community sector partnerships, and the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

This year, I particularly want to call out the incredibly hardworking organisational governance team, who not only support multiple ministers who supported the Community Services Directorate but also manage a large and extremely complex portfolio of freedom of information requests and responses. They do all of their work with great professionalism and commitment.

The directorate was ably led for most of the year by Acting Director-General Jo Wood. I want to thank her for her leadership. I also want to welcome the new Director-General, Catherine Rule.

In addition to their vital business-as-usual work, the Community Services Directorate has supported some of the most vulnerable members of our community through Canberra’s lockdowns. Despite the impact of COVID, it has made significant progress towards delivering key election commitments and government priorities. I thank everyone in the Community Services Directorate, particularly those parts that report to me, for their incredible work through the year.

What can I say about Canberra Health Services? It is the largest directorate in the government, led, again ably, by former CEO Bernadette McDonald, and now by new CEO Dave Peffer. The incredible vaccination rates that the ACT has achieved is due in no small part to the organisation and the efforts of Canberra Health Services, alongside the ACT Health Directorate team that has coordinated the vaccination response.

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