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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4819 ..

years running, and it really is an important event for many of us to realise and understand the impact of poverty but also, regardless of the fact that we live in a city that is quite well off by many standards, one in 10 of us in this community are experiencing poverty, are experiencing tough times, hard times. And we always need to ensure that those vulnerable people are given the opportunities that others in our community, the rest of us, enjoy.

I hosted on Monday the launch of Anti-Poverty Week at the Legislative Assembly. It was a fantastic morning that involved a couple of guest speakers, including Dr Helen Watchirs, who of course, we know, is the Commissioner for Human Rights and Discrimination. She also happens to be the patron of Anti-Poverty Week this year. Helen gave a very moving address looking at the issues of poverty.

We also had the director of the Australia Institute, Dr Richard Denniss. Richard focused on some research that the Australia Institute has recently completed, and that research focuses on the number of people in Australia who are entitled to certain benefits and who are missing out on those benefits because they are not applying for them. This is for many reasons, including lack of awareness. It is about stigma. It is about, I guess, the obstacles and difficulties people have in filling out forms and accessing those payments.

There was something like $658 million a year of unclaimed or unpaid benefits that really should be accessed by people who may be carers. It could be a parenting allowance, a disability allowance, a bereavement allowance. They were the four that this research particularly focused on. But it just goes to show that we need to also play our part in ensuring that those people who are living on the margins, who do have extremely low incomes, who are facing these issues of poverty, are supported to access the entitlements. That is right: they are entitlements. They need to be able to access those in order to be able to get by. As I said, I was very pleased to have hosted that event.

I congratulate all of those who are involved in organising the 17 events, everything from displays about poverty and hardship to food drives. There are displays and donations. There are discussions. There was a family picnic day for tenants of the housing support unit, who met for lunch and games at Weston Park. I believe that was on yesterday. I do encourage people to go to the Anti-Poverty Week website to have a look at the list of activities, to see whether you are able to support or attend the rest of the activities that will be conducted throughout this week.

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services

Sailability Australia

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (9.14): A few weeks ago I attended the AGM of Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services of the ACT, in company with Ms Amanda Bresnan. I would like to congratulate the chair, Mr Jim Andriopoulos, and his board, as well as manager, Dewani Bakkum, and all the employees and volunteers and pay tribute to their dedication and loyalty to MARSS. They are a top-class team with a great record of providing settlement and other essential services to migrant, refugee and humanitarian entrants. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed and are obviously greatly appreciated.

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