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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 August 2010) . . Page.. 3818 ..

Engaging in active play assists children to develop the balance, strength and coordination needed for everyday tasks. Regular movement and play challenges children, stretching their ability and imagination. The confidence developed through play assists children to feel good about themselves and enables them to look forward to future opportunities and activities. Sport can also help recently arrived members of our community become part of their new community and settle into their new home and make new friends. Whether a young person is moving to Canberra from interstate or coming to Australia from the land of their birth, the finding of common ground to socialise with peers is critical. It also helps them gain recognition and acceptance with their peers.

An example of this is a new project, aimed at building confidence among young males at risk, which was launched by senator for the ACT Kate Lundy at basketball earlier this year. The Harmony Players project engages 25 young males aged 16 to 25 from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, particularly from new and emerging communities, in positive social activities—further evidence of the important role sport can play in a young person’s life.

Active play allows a young person to learn about what they are capable of achieving. They also learn to engage with others, to lead, to work as a team and to learn self-advocacy. Through active play, children develop respect for others—and it provides them with an understanding of socially appropriate norms and expectations. Engaging in play and team sports provides a wide range of opportunity for social interaction that assists in the development of social skills and relationships, to assist children and young people engaging with others now and into the future. These skills prepare our young people to participate actively in the community as they grow into adults.

Mr Rattenbury talked about the involvement of parents. The majority of parents support their children’s involvement in sport in positive ways, many seeing it as a way of addressing their children’s sedentary lifestyle and, hopefully, embedding lifelong values that will benefit their children in life and work. Sport addresses a number of other parental concerns, such as supervised out-of-school activities, organised leisure and development of healthy values and positive use of time. Sport makes a positive contribution towards addressing several social problems, such as antisocial behaviour, low self-esteem and youth suicide. It can assist children at risk, through activities which, if sustained over a long term, can positively divert young people away from undesirable behaviour and towards more beneficial activities.

A key factor in the facilitation of junior sport and recreation in the ACT is the provision of adequate facilities, as other members have been saying. The ACT boasts over 270 hectares of maintained sportsgrounds and a number of aquatic facilities. In addition, a number of privately owned indoor and outdoor grounds support participation rates in the ACT. However, we do know that local sporting clubs at a community level experience some challenges in relation to these facilities. This is the reason I proposed an initiative in this place last November that promoted an exchange of resources between local schools and sporting clubs. I conducted a broad process of consultation earlier this year, and Minister Barr has since written to the department of education to see whether this initiative may provide a workable additional avenue through which we can enhance the level of sport participation in the ACT.

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