Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 944 ..
MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):
service purchasing contract which specifically stated that the contract period would commence on 1 July 1998 and end on 30 June 2001. When Ms Sattler entered the final stages of negotiation this week she was advised verbally of the change to the contract period, just eight days before the current contract expired.
This raises serious questions about the process which the Department of Education and Community Services executed to implement the decision. I have since spoken with the Minister's office and was told that the reason for the change for these two agencies was that the direction of their services was being reassessed. Ms Sattler assures me that she has yet to be advised of this change of direction by the Minister's office or the department. Again I question the process and the reasoning applied by the Government.
In the case of the Woden Youth Centre, they supposedly have been earmarked to carry out more work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. To my knowledge, they are already extremely active in this area. They recently received an Australia Council grant to accommodate Dorothea Randall's dance program for the next six months. Further, an Education Department officer has been placed two days a week to develop cultural programs targeting at-risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. I am also told that in the case of the Civic Youth Centre it is desired that they concentrate on older youth, the 18- to 25-year-old age groups. My experience over the last several years is that they have been doing that.
Mr Speaker, I am disturbed that it took questions from me on behalf of the Woden Community Service and the Civic Youth Centre to obtain some sort of explanation. I believe the Government should show a sign of good faith to the two agencies and uphold the three-year contract period which they understood was in place until it was plucked out of left field this week.
MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (8.35): I think Mr Corbell needs to learn a little bit about youth centres before he proposes motions such as this. Firstly, I would refer him to his interview on the ABC where he said that there is a total of six youth centres in Canberra. Wrong! There are eight, not six.
Mr Corbell: Six, not including Civic and Woden.
MR STEFANIAK: You indicated that four of the six have received a funding offer for three years. Actually, it is six out of the eight. There are eight. Mr Corbell also uttered absolute nonsense in relation to why the Chief Minister does not like these two youth centres, saying that they criticise and are sort of standard-bearers in terms of looking after the rights of youth. Mr Corbell, I think we have a very vibrant youth sector. We have eight very vibrant youth centres. I do not know whether you have visited them all, Mr Corbell. I certainly have and I do not think any of them are afraid to put their point of view for their constituents, and to put their views in terms of how best the Government can assist youth in this Territory. That is a contribution that I value as Minister, and I would think my colleagues on this side of the house value it as well.
It does not particularly worry me, Mr Corbell, if they are sometimes critical of us. In fact, in my three or so years as youth Minister I cannot remember the Civic or Woden youth centres being any more critical of or supportive of Government policy than any