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The education of young people is vital to all communities. The Government will continue to provide and improve services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through the Aboriginal education strategic initiatives program. In 1993-94, the Department of Education and Training employed an Aboriginal project officer to survey the wishes of these communities in relation to the teaching of Aboriginal languages in ACT schools. The results of this survey will be incorporated into the development of any prospective Aboriginal language programs.
There has also been a focus on economic opportunities. During 1993-94, a consultancy was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training to develop an Aboriginal employment and career development strategy for the then Housing and Community Services Bureau. That strategy aimed to increase access to permanent employment in the bureau. This encompassed the range of available occupations and the levels of employment. There is an agreement with the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training to fund a project officer. This agreement is under the Aboriginal employment and development program. The project officer will develop an ACT Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples employment and career path strategy. The aim of the strategy is to establish recruitment, training and career development programs that will increase access by indigenous Australians to permanent employment in the ACT Government Service.
In the area of health, the previous ACT Government maintained funding for the Aboriginal Health Service. It obtained funds under the national Aboriginal health strategy for a full-time coordinator for the service; a mental health worker; a drug, alcohol and HIV/AIDS worker; a hospital-based Aboriginal liaison worker; an education program for mainstream health workers on Aboriginal issues; and an immunisation service.
In relation to housing, the former ACT Government received money under the national Aboriginal health strategy to jointly fund, with the Commonwealth, an emergency accommodation project. I am advised that this project is now operational and is being managed by an Aboriginal community organisation. During 1994-95, the ACT Housing and Family Services Bureau has been reviewing housing assistance. The review involves consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about issues such as the design and location of housing. After the review has been completed, a housing policy will be developed in consultation with these communities.
I am pleased to present the 1993-94 report to this Assembly. It depicts a positive basis for this Government to continue implementing the royal commission's recommendations. An important part of this process is the empowering of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders in the ACT - something, I am sure, that this whole Assembly supports. We will be doing this by encouraging their active participation in the development of policies and programs. I certainly look forward to working with the new consultative council to improve services; in particular, with the development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre on Acton Peninsula. We believe that this is a very exciting challenge.
Debate (on motion by Ms Follett) adjourned.