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Mrs Carnell: Grandpa flat.
MR HUMPHRIES: I think “grandpa flat” would not quite do the trick either. Perhaps the next reference by the committee could be to try to generate some alternative terms for these offensive ones.
MS TUCKER (11.28), in reply: I would, firstly, like to acknowledge the support I got from my colleagues on the committee, Mr Hird and Ms McRae, as it was my first inquiry as chair. I do believe that it was a very useful exercise, not only in terms of the information that came from the community groups and the government agencies but also, as other members have noted, because it was opening up and offering the community an opportunity to speak to an Assembly committee in this way.
I do acknowledge the gaps in who did come to speak to us; I was aware of that myself. Committee process, in terms of who comes to speak to committees, how you address groups and how you ask for their input, is something that we in this committee have a keen interest in pursuing. I will be tabling something on the beginning of an inquiry on community consultation later today. I will talk in more detail about that then, probably, or maybe I will not. It might be a procedural statement today, but it is those sorts of concerns that we will be addressing.
I do take on the challenge that this has offered, not only in terms of process but also in terms of the very many concerns that were expressed. It has been stated here by several members that they know the issues and that they have been the same for a long time. I guess an immediate response to that is that no wonder some of those groups were so distressed when they came to see us, because their needs were real. The situations were quite serious in some areas. I take that as an indictment of the government processes of the past - that it has been allowed to go on for as long as it has.
The other concerns that came up were not just about needing more money and then everything would be all right, as Mr Kaine said. There was an element of that, but what was also clear was that there needs to be a lot more communication between groups about how they can deliver services where sometimes there is duplication and how government agencies likewise can work together better. There can be a better intersectoral approach to the Government's work. Perhaps some of the administrative changes that have occurred will make that more efficient in government agencies. That is yet to be seen, and the committee is going to be watching that closely as well.
The other issue that was highlighted by this report and by the statements of many of the people who spoke to us - if you read the transcript you will see this more clearly, perhaps, than the report shows - is that what makes up the fabric of our society is not just basic living requirements. We also need a sense of inclusion or belonging, to be listened to, to have the opportunity to define a sense of place in our neighbourhoods. Material needs are not all there is to social policy. If we are to move towards a society where we consume fewer resources and have a better quality of life, which is not related just to material goods, we will have to work harder on these aspects of community.