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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3011 ..

MRS JONES: Has the Human Rights Commissioner raised a reasonable question here, given that she has obviously had complaints about this matter? And how does taking people who have had close contact with COVID cases or, indeed, who have COVID to the watchhouse or the prison fit with your health orders?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I indicated earlier, the advice we have from ACT Policing is that when this has occurred it has generally been as a result of people being apprehended for sometimes quite serious alleged offences. That is the reason Policing have indicated to us, to ministers, that they have taken the actions they have.

The Human Rights Commission is absolutely legitimately raising these questions, and I know that these questions have been raised by other people as well. That is why we have sought the advice from ACT Policing in relation to this matter. But ACT Policing officers are putting themselves at risk in working in the community with people who are COVID-19 cases and close contacts. Police are doing so with appropriate personal protective equipment and they are doing so in a very responsible way. They are working very closely with our other agencies to ensure that our compliance and enforcement regime is absolutely focused on engagement and education to the greatest extent possible. Where, unfortunately, they come into contact with people who are cases or who are contacts who are also engaged in other activity for which they would normally be arrested and taken to the watchhouse or the AMC, unfortunately, sometimes that has to be the case.

Budget—seniors and veterans

MS LAWDER: My question is to the assistant minister for family and community services. In the 2021-22 ACT budget there are multiple new initiatives that relate to children and young people but none specifically for seniors or veterans. In this past year, we have seen an increase in the isolation of seniors all over the city, who are also disenfranchised by a majority technology and data response to COVID-19. Minister, why isn’t there a single new budget initiative relating to your portfolio of seniors and veterans?

MS DAVIDSON: I thank Ms Lawder for the question. In response to the issues that people have been raising around what they have been experiencing with COVID-19, the ACT government has provided additional support to a range of community organisations who can help with providing information to people and providing support to people during a difficult time. We know that this will continue on for quite some time to come, and there are a number of things in the ACT budget to help with that. Specifically in relation to what in the ACT budget might be helpful for older Canberrans, there is quite a lot of work being done in the age-friendly city plan, including upgrades in—

Ms Lawder: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The question asked specifically why is there not a single new budget initiative relating to seniors and veterans, not what is in the budget, as business as usual.

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