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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 23 September 2010) . . Page.. 4444 ..

life in Canberra. Minister, there is an indicator—contact outside the household—that has declined from 98 per cent in 2002 to 81 per cent in 2006: do you or the government know why this has fallen?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Le Couteur for the question. You are quite right, Ms Le Couteur, in relation to the most recent Measuring our progress report. Three of the 28 indicators that we measure progress against showed a decline. They included the one that you raised. I think, perhaps, in terms of a government’s capacity to understand, it is the most difficult or the most problematic—a fall in family contact from 98 per cent to 87 per cent is a very significant and stark drop in family contacts over such a short period.

I think that the response that the government has to make is to maintain its commitment to social inclusion and to the capacity that government has to ensure that people are engaged and that they are included rather than excluded from the life of society—and that, indeed, they do engage.

But I have pondered the same issue, Ms Le Couteur. The stark number that is reported is that there has been a drop in family contact. In other words, the level of numbers of people that have regular contact with family has fallen from 98 per cent to 87 per cent and it really does pose a very—

Ms Le Couteur: I think it is 81 per cent.

MR STANHOPE: Sorry, 81 per cent—98 per cent to 81 per cent. That is a very significant drop. You ask me if I know why members of families have stopped seeing each other as regularly as they did a year ago; I do not know the answer, but it represents, I think, a significant challenge for the government and the community in an environment where we know that there are so many people that do not engage to the level that some of us, as we look on, would perhaps wish that they did or perhaps as we fear that they would like to, if only the opportunities were available.

So, I do not know the answer, Ms Le Couteur, but I think it is a very significant issue, and I think it is an issue that really does raise or reinforce the need for us to engage in a conversation around social inclusion and around what it is that governments and communities can do to better bind communities to provide greater social cohesion and to be a facilitator of greater commitment or intercourse within societies and between people.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question?

MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, the commentary on the indicators said the government regarded the 81 per cent figure as very high. Why does it regard 81 per cent as very high given the fall, and what is the government’s target rate, if there is one?

MR STANHOPE: I would assume, Ms Le Couteur—and I will have to take some advice on that—that we would regard 81 per cent of people having contact with family as a high percentage—if that, indeed, is what we did—as a reflection of interjurisdictional comparison. If we regard it as high, we would be regarding it as

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