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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1624 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, on behalf of the government, I am very pleased to table today the government's response to Sharing the benefits: Final report of the ACT Poverty Task Group, outlining recommendations for responding to poverty in the ACT. The poverty project was a joint initiative of the ACT government and the ACT Council of Social Service. The ACT Poverty Task Group was formed to undertake the project and was made up of representatives of the government, business and community sectors and was chaired by Bishop Pat Power. The report was presented to the government in December 2000 by the ACT Poverty Task Group and was preceded by two years of work by the task group involving considerable research. The government would like to thank Bishop Power and the task group for the work on this project. We welcome the report.

This government supports all the recommendations made by the task group. The research conducted on behalf of the group has shown that approximately one in 12 Canberrans are affected by poverty. Mr Speaker, currently the government provides a wide range of programs to assist people affected by poverty, including community health programs, a range of concessions and emergency housing assistance. However, the government notes that further attention is needed for this critical community issue. The government's response contains a number of new initiatives that will also help address the needs of those people.

These initiatives include Canberra Institute of Technology scholarships for disadvantaged students, extra funding towards providing public transport concessions to low income earners who are not already eligible, community support for residents at multiunit public housing developments, seeking solutions through the task force on how to bridge the digital divide, home-based outreach services for young people with special needs, funding to reduce the dental service waiting list, research that would include a demographic profile of young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as well as multicultural communities, and researching the level of unmet need. This will look at service planning and provision in close consultation with stakeholders.

Mr Speaker, the government is committed to addressing the task group's recommendations in a considered and collaborative manner. The government will work in partnership with the community sector to address the issues raised in the task group's report. To this end, we will establish a joint government/community reference group to inform and oversight the implementation of the government's response. Ongoing research, monitoring and reporting on issues relating to poverty, based on the findings of the task group's research, will provide important information for the planning, evaluation and implementation of government policies, programs and services well into the future.

Once again, on behalf of the government and the Chief Minister, I thank the task group for its work on this project. It has formed the basis of some very important initiatives that the government will implement to assist those in poverty in our community.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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