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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4365..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

programs to five sites and $1.24 million for indigenous student support aimed at assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Canberra to reach their potential. I am pleased to advise that the eighth report of this Assembly on indigenous education has indicated considerable improvement in student absenteeism for term 4 2003, kindergarten to year six and years seven to 10.

Through the implementation strategy developed in response to The Territory As Parent, also known as the Vardon report, the government has allocated an additional $465,000 in 2004-05 specifically for programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families. This includes funding for cross-cultural awareness activities, the expansion of the indigenous unit in the Office for Children and for a council for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; $1.42 million for a community managed Aboriginal justice centre to provide a one-stop shop for justice services; more than half a million dollars to employ outreach workers to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing problems related to drugs and alcohol; $100,000 for a feasibility study to assess the viability of an ACT bush healing farm; $793,000 for the expansion of indigenous midwifery access, one of the key commitments of the Canberra social plan; and $830,000 on an ear health program for Aboriginal children.

In recognition of our cultural differences, the circle sentencing court, an initiative of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, is now operational. After the Australian government vacated the former site of the National Museum of Australia at Yarramundi Reach, the ACT government handed it over to the Burrangiri Association, the successful tenderer for the centre's management. Burrangiri officially re-opened the cultural centre during NAIDOC week this year. The cultural centre receives an annual operating budget of $120,000 and there is $1.5 million available for capital works in 2004-05.

In recent months I presented three cheques for the value of $73,000 under our Renew Community Facilities Program to the Billabong Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal Corporation for Sporting and Recreation Activities at Boomanulla and the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation. We have allocated $100,000 to commission a public artwork acknowledging the traditional owners of the land. The artwork will be displayed in a prominent place in the territory. An advisory committee has been established and nominated a list of prominent indigenous artists who will be invited to submit expressions of interest. I take great pride in our ongoing commitment as a caring government to the thousands of indigenous people who live in Canberra. While there is still some way to go, I believe we are making good progress towards a more inclusive and supportive society.

A recent survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in Canberra had the highest level of participation in cultural events in Australia. Seventy-three per cent had attended a cultural activity within the previous 12 months. We followed up this survey with extensive research on issues facing indigenous Canberrans and all aspects of life, from family relationships and housing to health and justice. Earlier today I launched a study undertaken by the Chief Minister's Department called "A Social and Cultural Profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Canberra". The findings of this study will provide us with valuable information to assist our policy development in the future.

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