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Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 11 May 1995, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR OSBORNE (4.24): Mr Speaker, I realise that it has been quite some time since Mr Stefaniak presented his ministerial statement on the establishment of the Children's and Youth Services Bureau, but I am pleased that in this case it has given me the opportunity to give a bit more thought to what the Minister has put forward as a fait accompli. In the Tuggeranong Valley and the electorate of Brindabella, we have more young families and more children than in the rest of Canberra.

Mr Moore: And you are doing your bit to improve it.

MR OSBORNE: And I am doing my bit to improve that, too. I am sure that we have more need for support services for children and families than in the older areas of Canberra, so I am particularly concerned that we get it right.

I am troubled that in creating this integrated service, this bureau in the Department of Education and Training, we are putting all our eggs into one basket. The Minister says that it will ensure improved coordination of service delivery, that the emphasis for the youth services grant program will be on service delivery, and that funded services will be required to demonstrate a commitment to providing outcomes for all young people. That is bureaucratic jargon. It seems to me that this has come out of some management manual and is about processes, not people. It all sounds to me like more public service jobs and more bureaucrats having meetings with each other and acting as inspectors on community organisations.

While the one-stop shop idea of having one central bureau in the Education Department looks like efficient management, it also means only one avenue for people to access and only one bureaucratic body making judgments and advising on allocating funds. The needs and problems of families and of young people from babyhood through to their twenties are much more diverse than a single bureau in the Education Department is ever likely to understand. Where is the link between the bureau and Family Services, which is still in Housing? It has been well demonstrated in recent years that public sector welfare agencies can be downright jealous of community organisations intruding in their paddock.

Frankly, I think the Minister has been too hasty in accepting this proposition from his department and his department has been too smart in getting up an empire-building proposal fast and early with their new Minister. Other speakers in this debate have expressed doubts too. I worry because the health and welfare and the problems of our young people and families are too important and too diverse to be shoved into a single bureau in one department. Maybe I am wrong. I hope that previous speakers in this debate will consider joining me in demanding that the Minister and his department take a much broader and more sympathetic view on this matter.

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