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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 166 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

We will go heavy-handed. We will bring the police in and we will just smash the whole thing to pieces". That is just not good enough. Let us do so if for no other reason than to avoid a $60,000 a year bill, hopefully less when we deliver our prison here. You never know, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, we may just save a young person's life out of this.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (4.38): I was very interested to hear what Mr Hargreaves said. He certainly touches on some very definite problems, and I will come to a couple of specific ones, one of which I think is going to bedevil governments in Australia for some time. Whilst I think we are taking a few positive steps towards it, it is a very real problem. He also touched on a number of other issues. On a number of occasions I was not quite sure what he was getting at. I tend to think that some of the facts destroy some of the points he might be making, certainly in relation to the youth centre at Conder. Whilst he seems to be congratulating the Government, especially Mr Smyth and I, for our efforts in relation to that, now he seems to be criticising us.

Mr Hargreaves: Not Mr Smyth. I congratulate you, Minister, not Mr Smyth.

MR STEFANIAK: I thought you were congratulating my colleague Mr Smyth. He found a site, I understand, and I think you should congratulate him. You congratulate us and now there seem to be some further problems. It is a service that has just started. You make one very interesting point to start with, and I think it is worthy of note. Perhaps you need to get around to all our youth centres and see what is occurring there. I must say, in saying that, that I have not got down to see the service operating at Conder, and I must do that, Mr Hargreaves.

In terms of the other ones, you mentioned that youth centres need children there, kids and young people, who are not dysfunctional. Basically, I took that to mean you need a broad section of young people there apart from kids who might be dysfunctional. I agree with that, Mr Hargreaves. I think that is a very valid point. If you go around to our youth centres I think you will see quite a broad section of young people. I think that is because of some of the improvements that have occurred there over the last few years in terms of how the services are being provided and to make them more relevant, and that is an ongoing thing, too.

One of the criticisms - you might have picked this up in the past - had been that there might be a clique there. Just to take youth centres, you might well have one which has a disproportionate number of what you might call dysfunctional youth. If that was the case, I am pleased to see that there have been some significant changes there.

I will give you an example, Mr Hargreaves. I attended the Woden Youth Centre last Friday night. I went there a couple of weeks ago and I saw a young band performing. A lot of kids go there. It is a good space for bands to perform. It does not annoy anyone. It is in an area where, at night, you are not going to annoy anyone with noise, and it gives a lot of these young bands a chance. Some that started off in our youth centres have gone on to do quite well interstate. I do not know whether any have gone overseas yet, but some have done very well in Sydney. It is really pleasing to see kids who got a chance here.

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