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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 October 2010) . . Page.. 5118 ..


affected by past adoption practices, rather than the government by itself, I think this is a matter that concerns the administration prior to territory self-government and it is incumbent upon all members to apologise, as well as the government. I see it as a community response as well as by those here. I commend Ms Hunter for bringing this motion to the Assembly. I think my amendments add to it and recognise the work that is currently in play on this matter.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.08): I congratulate and thank Ms Hunter on bringing forward this important matter today. Although the Canberra Liberals have some amendments, I want to make it perfectly clear that the issues that we have are related to the language and the process that Ms Hunter has suggested rather than the end itself. I note that the minister also has some amendments, some of which we support and some of which we still have a problem with. A little later in my remarks I will move an amendment to Ms Burch’s paragraph (4)(a), which I think better sequences the process that we need to go through in this matter.

It is appropriate that this matter has been brought forward in Children’s Week. It is an important issue. I discussed with Ms Hunter and Ms Burch before the debate today whether we should have a broad-ranging Children’s Week motion or whether we should concentrate on this aspect. There are arguments for both of those approaches. I had been minded to move some amendments that raised the notion of Children’s Week to a higher point than was the case in the motion proposed by Ms Hunter but, on reflection and from listening to the debate, I do not think I will go down that path.

I think that we should concentrate on the issue which Ms Hunter wants to bring forward, and that is the issue of particular practices in the space of adoption which are odious, inappropriate and contrary to the fundamental rights of the mothers in particular but parents in general and the children as well. This is not to say that the notion of adoption is a wrong notion. I do not know that that has been reinforced and I do not think that the people of the ACT should come away with a view that the ACT Legislative Assembly thinks that adoption is not an appropriate practice in the 21st century.

The fact that it is a much rarer practice today than it was even 30 years ago is a fact, and I do not know what that reflects. Perhaps it reflects that today there are more options for women who find themselves confronted with difficult pregnancies. This is the issue that Ms Hunter touches on in her motion when she speaks about the spectacular success of the Canberra college cares program. It is a program that I have had a particular interest in. I have had the privilege of visiting the Stirling campus on a number of occasions and have seen how that program has developed since 2003. I want to put on the record my particular support of and thanks to John Stenhouse, the principal of Canberra college, who has overseen this since 2002, and the person who has had her hands on this from the outset, Jan Marshall, who has done fantastic work.

I think that CCCares is an example of how a community can support young people, particularly young women. But it is not just young women; it is young parents who find themselves in difficult circumstances. The community has been heroic and the young people who are involved in this program are themselves heroic for not giving up and saying, “The world has dealt me a rum deal.” Instead, they have continued and


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