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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 May 1995) . . Page.. 495 ..


I would like to take this opportunity to add my concern to that expressed by Ms McRae and Mr Moore about the autocratic tone of the Minister's speech on housing. This was also evident in the media coverage of a recently trashed house. Most tenants of Housing Trust properties do look after their properties well, and many people wait for long periods for essential maintenance. This sort of beat-up places a black mark against all tenants and feeds the public perception that people deliberately rip off the system. Also painfully lacking in the coverage was any compassion for the tenant.

MR MOORE (4.50): Mr Speaker, one of the reasons why I welcome most warmly the establishment of this bureau and congratulate its new director is that it seems to me that over the last four or five years that I have been a member of the Assembly one thing that has been apparent is that the youth services area is fragmented. I do not put that down to a deliberate action on the part of the previous Government. Perhaps there was a failure to try to get them together. There is a great challenge ahead to try to pull the youth sector together. In my dealings with this sector, it seems to me that there have always been areas of conflict. There has been a range of situations where the different parts of the youth sector often seem to be working at odds with each other, when really what was needed was to have them working together.

That applies particularly to the relationship between the youth sector, in general, and the schools, and how we operate the schools. So, it pleases me that the new bureau will come under the control of the Department of Education and Training. The Minister's speech has indicated that there will be a clear, strong relationship with the Education Department. For example, throughout his speech there are references to counsellors in school, youth counsellors and working together. It is that coordinated approach, that working together, that will help us to resolve some of those problems. It will also highlight some of the inadequacies in our schools. The particular area which is our biggest area of concern in our schooling system, I think most members would agree, is our high school system. It usually comes to light through the failure of people to cope. We tend then to put resources into dealing with the problems, instead of putting our resources into preventing the problems. That is a theme that I intend to pursue further, so that we can try to look at ensuring that we avoid the problems. When we avoid the problems, not only does it cost us a lot less but also it means that the emotional and personal costs to the individuals involved are much less. I must say that that would be my personal higher priority.

The Minister referred to the adolescent day unit; school systems for adolescents in crisis, such as the Dairy Flat program; and a range of other programs for what we commonly now refer to as children at risk. It seems to me that, if we put our efforts into ensuring in the very early stages - first, at primary school - that these children not only are coping but also are finding school interesting and that we have adequate resources to allow that, then we really do have the opportunity to try to resolve these problems before they occur.


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