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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 456 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Once again we have in this response a commitment to review in a number of areas. Obviously, I will be monitoring very closely the progress of those reviews. I hope that we do see strong action from government, although I do not know why I should expect it. We certainly will be pushing for it in these critical areas. After all, this is about our young people. It is about the young people at risk in the ACT. In this place we are getting law and order responses to issues of crime. As I have already said in this place this week, the crime related to young people is related to distress; it is related to social disintegration.

It is very concerning in this Assembly to see an emphasis on punishment for these young people and not an equal emphasis on their protection or on family support. Family support systems in this city are underresourced and are becoming more so. Recently I was visited by the O'Connor Family Resources Centre people. I have visited them often in the past. They carry out fundamental community work very effectively. They save the community many dollars, as well as social distress and suffering. But this particular organisation and others like it do not appear to be a focus of this Government's strategies. It has imposed on them the output model. There is a lack of recognition of the subtleties of the work of such centres. That is the problem we have with the output model, competitive tendering and the lack of quality and qualitative indicators in assessing whether an organisation deserves continual funding.

I will go through some of the recommendations and the Government's responses. The first recommendation was that the Government take account of recent research in developing family support and intervention programs. Basically, the Government supported it, but it did not address the central issue of the need to take account of recent research on successful preventative interventions. As in every report, the Social Policy Committee has come out emphasising the importance of intervention and prevention. As in all responses from government so far, it is pretty well not taken in as a serious priority.

The second recommendation concerned the need to develop a strategy for the funding and delivery of family support programs, including a strategy for the dissemination of information. This recommendation was contained in the report into violence in schools. In the last Assembly we actually found ourselves repeating recommendations from one committee report to another because we were not satisfied that the Government had actually understood the importance of a recommendation which it had not picked up. We see the Government basically supporting the recommendation; but we know there are real gaps, as I have already described, and we must see a stronger commitment to family support. It is absolutely critical to reducing family violence and abuse. We will certainly be monitoring how that work goes on.

The third recommendation concerned support services, the collection of information on the services provided and the unmet demand from the service providers. Once again, it was supported but there was no response to the committee's concern about resourcing community organisations to do the work. We also asked, in recommendation 4, for increased counselling services for children and families at risk. Basically, there was support in principle but no detail on how the Government would go about improving services for many of the target groups identified.

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