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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 946 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Mr Speaker, a number of youth centres have been offered three-year contracts. A number of them have recently been on contracts. Those that have been offered the three-year contracts are not actually undergoing a substantial change in the next three years. That obviously will allow them certainty and they will continue to provide the service that they do provide. But in other areas, of course, there is a change, and there is a need for assessment of services. There is a need to ensure that we target the needs of our youth in certain areas of Canberra as best we can, and that basically is what is behind this.

The Government has taken a decision that Civic and Woden should have a 12-month planned process to decide on the purchase of new integrated services for young people - services that target the particular needs of their clients. I emphasise, Mr Speaker, that we are saying to the community that we want to assess the needs of young people in the Civic and Woden areas in the next 12 months. We want to develop new and innovative services in that time, rather than wait for three years and have some young people who would miss out on services that we can provide and that will assist them. That is what it is all about. Mr Corbell mentioned that there are a number of young people maybe getting back into the community, young people who do not feel comfortable going elsewhere, who access these youth services. Yes, they do. I have been around the youth centres. There are young people at every single youth centre we have in that category, and that is one of the benefits of youth centres. There are differences too. There are demographic differences, age differences, all sorts of differences, which affect the various youth services, and there are changing needs which are apparent as well.

The Civic and Woden youth centres are two major and long-established centres. They do serve a unique group of young people, a unique group compared to the client group of some of the other centres. Woden, for example, Mr Speaker - this is something that is becoming more and more apparent - has a very useful geographic location for providing services for young people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. Woden is easily accessible for this purpose and the centre has already provided well-attended programs for that specific group. There is the potential, Mr Speaker, to run further services and outreach services for this group from Woden. The Government is very keen to purchase a range of very flexible, integrated and outreach services for ATSI young people. We need to have discussions about the nature of those services. During the next 12 months a planned process will enable new service specifications to be written, and a major component of those will be additional services to ATSI young people.

Civic, because of its location in the hub of Canberra, needs a specialised and centralised service for young people. A number of young people travel there from across the ACT, not just from the immediate region. This is a widely diverse group of young people in terms of age and differing needs. That is becoming very apparent, Mr Speaker, and it is something that needs to be addressed. The one-year period for which that centre has been funded will be used to conduct another planned process towards establishing and documenting new service specifications for a restructure of the services available to young people who use that centre, young people who have the potential to use it, and young people who need to access that centre. We are committed, Mr Speaker, to ensuring a long-term service provision for young people in those areas, and a service provision that meets the changing and very diverse needs that exist there.

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