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The children and youth of the ACT have a diverse range of needs. Government policy must be about not only maintaining services in existing areas but also identifying emerging areas of need. With the growth of the North Canberra area, there is a need for a youth centre of some sort in Gungahlin, particularly with recreation and sport facilities. There is also a real gap in service provision in programs for young people, over 12 years of age, with disabilities.
In the school system, there are identifiable needs in many areas, and quite urgent needs in counselling and student support and learning assistance. Many counsellors are already stretched to the limit, and many schools have a counsellor for only half a day a week. I presume that, when the Minister speaks of enhancing the role of counsellors, what he is talking about is increasing the funding to allow employment of more counsellors. There are also gaps in the learning recovery programs at schools. Self-esteem suffers in the long term if learning assistance services are not delivered early.
It is also the case that, for many young people at risk, their support networks are not based at school, and this must be considered when developing policy in this area. For example, there is a shortage in the crisis and medium-term accommodation for young people aged between 16 and 25. There may well be potential for removing inefficiencies and duplication of services and programs, particularly administrative duplications; but this cannot be at the expense of removing essential regional services, particularly in a city as spread out as Canberra. Many similar services do need to be duplicated in different areas to meet local demand. There is potential for innovation in the provision of services and the sharing of administrative burdens, but this cannot take place without extensive consultation with the service providers.
Housing is often a problem for young people in Canberra, and I am pleased that the Minister is undertaking to look at the long waiting lists for Housing Trust properties; but, like Ms McRae, I would like to know how he classifies the genuinely needy. I support many of the sentiments in Ms McRae's speech this morning on that issue. On the issue of housing more generally, the Greens hope that there is a broad range of input into the housing strategy and that it considers the impact of transport and the broad social implications of the built environment.
It is also essential that any redevelopment seek to make the Government housing stock as energy and water efficient as possible ,for both environmental and social equity reasons. It is also an exciting opportunity to explore different types of housing that are focused on community development and are culturally appropriate to the needs of different groups in our society, involving them in the development process. The Community Housing Advisory Service of the ACT has provided an excellent contact point for people wishing to develop their own style of appropriate housing, and there are already some interesting examples.