Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1826 ..
MS McRAE (continuing):
Those sorts of things, unless we see them addressed in a systematic and open way, put a lie to this whole notion of improving recreation. Mr Moore has already invited the Minister to research the area of recreation and the need for recreational facilities and improvements in attitude toward that area, and I think that is an invitation that you should take on, Minister.
The other area that I get very nervous about being pushed so often is this intrinsic link that is made with health and sport. Good health does not necessarily follow from just being involved in sport. What I would like to see you take a lead in, Minister, is the greater range of issues that are involved in health; for instance, the proper immunisation of children, the proper care of children, the proper understanding of how children develop and at what point they are able to do what things, the proper understanding of nutrition and its place in a person's life and how that affects health, and the proper understanding of self-esteem. As I have mentioned before, it is not always sport that contributes to self-esteem at every level of a person's life.
If you are going to take such a lead in this debate, Mr Stefaniak, and I have no problem with that, I would feel much better about it if you were able to promote more seminars, more work, more information and more push to those broader issues of health and wellbeing which come from people feeling good, from people's self-esteem being high, from people's worth being recognised, from people's diet being in order, and then come to the bigger social justice issues which your Government is very weak in attacking, and that is, in essence, supporting low income earners. It is a vital issue. To have our children involved in sport means that they have to have the proper shoes, the proper clothing and the proper equipment. I heard, for instance, evidence from one person - I think it was at the round table, and it is a quite common observation - that a lot of our students do not even involve themselves in the first place because they know that mummy and daddy cannot buy the proper shoes and the proper equipment. So we are building in those who can and those who cannot. In your portfolio you have collectively not addressed the needs of low income earners; nor has any other Minister in his or her portfolio. You have not protected them in any of your rhetoric.
This is why I am so excited about the whole question of why people do not participate. I think that, at the bottom, we will uncover that a lot of children will not participate, and do not participate, because they do not want to reveal the financial circumstances of their home, and do not want to go home and say, "Mummy, I want to play tennis. Buy me a new tennis racket". It might sound trivial when I put it across like that; but your Government, I think, has a responsibility to protect those children from embarrassment and to allow full involvement in a range of issues to do with recreation, sport and health. Intrinsic to that is people's self-esteem and self-worth, which comes from not being embarrassed by having to admit the difficulties that they might face while they are at school and similarly across the community by not having to go to a pool administrator or to a field administrator and say, "Listen, cobber, I have only two bob in my pocket and I have no income. Why will you not let my kids come into the pool?".
I think it is up to you, Minister, to find policies and ways to ensure that, without embarrassing people and without putting them in circumstances where they have to admit their circumstances, you then facilitate far greater involvement. When I hear of those sorts of things - the better research about health, the better research about self-worth,