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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 141 ..

Mr Berry: No, it was okay.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, it did.

MR STEFANIAK: That is the agenda - what is the best way to maximise educational opportunities for our students? That is something the Government constantly tries to do in this particular area. Mr Berry, we might not have to do anything. We might be going perfectly. Perhaps I could imply that, if you are criticising us for throwing this open for community debate. Maybe we are going perfectly and should disregard the Productivity Commission and not have this debate. If you are saying that, thank you. I am glad you are so happy with the way everything is travelling. Maybe there are ways we can do things better, and I think it is important that the community look at this issue and see whether they think there are ways in which we can further maximise educational opportunities for students. That is what it is all about, rather than dollars.

Young Carers

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for Community Care, Mr Moore. Minister, I recently had a meeting with members of several community organisations about the daily difficulties faced by child carers. It has been conservatively estimated that there are at least 600 children in Canberra under the age of 18 who provide care, with about 250 of them being the primary carer for a family member. The ages of these children range from 18 down to as young as seven, with 85 per cent being between 10 and 14. These children do everything for their family members, from colostomy care to the giving of injections to doing the housework. Is the Government aware of the exact number of child carers in Canberra, and what recognition and priority are currently given to the provision of practical assistance for these young children?

MR MOORE: The question Mr Osborne raises requires very careful answering. I am prepared to take it on notice rather than give an answer off the top of my head.

MR OSBORNE: I ask a supplementary question. You can take it on notice too, Minister. One of the problems highlighted in a recent committee forum, I think last October or November, which I understand no-one attended on behalf of the Government, although a number of invitations had been issued, was identifying the children in the first place. A recommendation came from the forum for an education program for those who come into daily contact with children, namely, teachers, social workers and health workers. Do you agree with that recommendation and will you work towards putting it into practice? I am happy for you to take the question on notice.

MR MOORE: I will take it on notice. Mr Osborne, I would also appreciate it if you could give me a bit more detail so that when the department are working through it we can make sure we are genuinely taking into account the issues that you are concerned about. It will also require some work between Mr Stefaniak and me to get a good, thorough answer together for you. We may seek a bit more detail from you.

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