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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (3 March) . . Page.. 628..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The social plan does acknowledge our success. It is about ensuring that we keep doing the things we do well, that we continue to enjoy Canberra's diversity, its cultural facilities and its open spaces, and that we raise and educate our children in the best environment possible-a safe, healthy and cohesive community.

It is about much more than that. It is also about addressing the causes and results of social exclusion and poverty, the things that prevent some Canberrans from participating in our community to the extent that most of us take for granted. We cannot pretend that we have no poverty. We cannot pretend that there are no people who sleep rough night after night. We cannot pretend that we have no crime, no drug abuse, no children who struggle to write their own name, no abused women, no parents desperately worried about what will happen to their intellectually disabled children when they are too old to look after them, and no loneliness.

It is precisely because of our wealth and our good fortune that we cannot tolerate the existence of social exclusion in all its manifestations. The priories and goals of building our community, as set out in the Canberra social plan, reflect this reality, emphasising the importance of helping Canberrans in need so that we all reach our potential, make a contribution and share the benefits of the community.

Mr Speaker, the Canberra social plan is one of the three elements of the Canberra plan. It is a plan for the next 10 to 15 years, with specific targets for 2013. That year was chosen because it is Canberra's centenary, and what better way to celebrate an anniversary than with the virtual elimination of primary homelessness, with lower long-term unemployment, with greater income equality and with a better educated community.

This year, at the same time as we enact Australia's first human rights act, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the calls for equal rights by the miners of Ballarat at the Eureka rebellion. In an echo of those Eureka miners' cry for freedom, the Canberra social plan includes a human rights act for the ACT-something that is fundamental to the delivery of our social plan.

While the Human Rights Act focuses on civil and political rights, building our community will be the primary means of delivering economic, social and cultural human rights, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right for the highest attainable standard of health, the right to education, the right to work and enjoy just and favourable conditions of work, and the right to participate in the cultural life of the community.

The social plan is ambitious in its scope and objectives. It is no short-term panacea, nor is it an exercise in dreaming. It sets priorities for a decade or more and commitments for now and the next five years to make sure we get there. These commitments include increased support for child protection, universal newborn hearing screening, expanded Aboriginal midwifery access, new child and family centres in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong, a new gas concession for low income earners, a community inclusion board to be chaired by respected social commentator Hugh Mackay, and long overdue recognition of Canberra's pioneers.

I am pleased, Mr Speaker, to be able to announce today that this weekend we will be advertising for expressions of interest from the community for appointment to the community inclusion board. The social plan includes specific targets for education,


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