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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (3 March) . . Page.. 627..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

in our community; identifying those who need early intervention and support; and putting in place mechanisms to address those. They are wide ranging in their strategy.

For example, Mr Smyth did not, of course, assert-because it would completely undermine his argument-the value of the community inclusion fund. This is a fund designed to be chaired by eminent people. I think it is an enormous endorsement of the government's strategy that Dr Hugh Mackay, one of the pre-eminent social commentators on disadvantage in our society, has agreed to chair that fund. He will contribute his experience to the community of the ACT on how the dollars in that fund can be used to address disadvantage in our community and to encourage greater inclusion and greater citizenship in our community, and I use "citizenship"in the broadest possible sense.

That is just another demonstration of the capacity and the strength of this document. Of course, there are many more. The plan identifies issues around those who face particular disadvantage. For example, the plan refers to assistance to indigenous children who, because of the social and economic circumstances that they and their families face, have far higher rates of preventable hearing impairment, which means that they drop out of school earlier. They face a cycle of unemployment and disadvantage because they are not able to obtain a good education. The plan identifies basic things like that. We are putting in place steps to address that issue. You would have thought that work would have been done years ago, but it is only as a result of this plan that we are doing it now. So, again, we are seeing concrete, tangible outcomes on the ground.

Of course, who can forget the extra $33 million that the government is putting into public housing in the ACT-an extra $33 million which has been committed and is going into improving housing in our community? That is a singular achievement on the part of the government-one which I think will be regarded for quite some time as a very significant commitment to public housing in our community.

Mr Speaker, all of those things demonstrate that the government has both a short and a long-term objective with this plan. As with all of our plans-whether it is the spatial plan, whether it is the economic white paper-we have put together a tangible long-term strategy, a strategy which will influence decision making, we hope, for many years to come and, given the endorsement of the social plan as received, there is every indication that that will be the case.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (11.32): Mr Speaker, Building Our Community: The Canberra Social Plan is a genuine attempt by the government to ensure that all Canberrans share our city's good fortune over the coming decade. Canberra, as we know, is a place of which we can all be proud. By almost any measure, we live better than people in every other Australian state or territory. We are younger, richer, healthier, fitter, closer to our community, more open-hearted and safer.

What is more, as we know, we are better educated, we smoke less, we go to more cultural and sporting events, more of us own shares and few of us face financial stress. And we are time rich. More Canberrans find it easier to travel around our town than do people faced with travel elsewhere. So the question may be asked: why a social plan?


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