Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 362 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
disregarding the fact that a number of young people at university are below the poverty line and face problems with housing, feeding and clothing themselves through holding down part-time jobs to help them get through financially while having a very heavy university workload, he was quite wrong in terms of the composition of the council.
Let me go to the composition of the council, for Mr Corbell's benefit. I do not know how he got that information about tokenism, but I think he was quite wrong. In fact, under my Act, the Ministerial Youth Advisory Council has set guidelines in terms of who should be on it to make sure that it is representative as a youth body. We have a representative from a youth peak body, a representative from a culturally diverse background, a representative from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, two representatives from post-secondary schooling, two representatives from the school-student network - one government, one non-government - one employed young person and one representative of young people with a welfare support background or a young person from a youth centre.
The current body has a number of very interesting young people on it. We have as members a person from an ethnic community who is still at school; a 15-year-old girl of Torres Strait Islander heritage; a 15-year-old girl who has taken part in various fundraising activities; a young person who is in foster care; a 24-year-old man of Bangladeshi extraction who moved to Australia in 1985; and a 22-year-old man who was formerly long-term unemployed and who is now working, I am pleased to say, part time with Pathways. It is very much a cross-section of the young community.
I would be very interested in hearing Mr Corbell's definition of "tokenism" because my Macquarie Dictionary defines it as "the policy of avoiding a real solution to a problem by a superficial gesture intended to impress and to distract attention from the real issues". Mr Speaker, the MYAC terms of reference give as its mission statement:
To provide a process through which the Minister will receive information and advice on matters relating to the needs, concerns and aspirations of young people in the ACT.
Mr Speaker, I have met with the council on three occasions since it was formed in mid-December. I do not think the council in its composition could possibly be described as tokenistic. If anything, you have probably been misinformed there, Mr Corbell. I hope that is the case. Perhaps you were not aware of the actual make-up of the council and you inadvertently caused some concerns to members of that council by calling it tokenistic, which, quite clearly, it is not. I certainly hope that is the case. I would ask that you be a bit more careful in future.
Finally, on a more pleasant note, I thank the members who came to the farewell we had at lunchtime for my Education DLO, Jenni Campbell, who has been here for the past two years and has provided an excellent service not only to my office but also to a number of members of the Assembly. I thank her immensely for her efforts there and wish her well as she goes back to the department.