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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2538 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Additionally, voluntary work will be included in the general social survey first planned for next year, 2002. The ABS has acknowledged the importance of time use surveys in providing data on a range of people's lives, in particular with unpaid work. The lesser frequency of these surveys in the future reflects the fact that most time use patterns change only slowly over time. The ABS asserts that the data is used more for descriptive and research purposes than to support analysis or to design services. I disagree. I think that the information is quite useful for a whole range of things and can immediately educate policy in areas where volunteering features highly.

For that reason, having a database which is renewed only every 12 years, in the case of the time use survey, makes the information much less helpful and it does need to be considered in a different light. In the State of the Territory Report we measure things such as underemployment and volunteering and we explore the amount of unpaid or underutilised resources in the community. This area provides a good indication of the difficulty that getting robust social data at frequent enough levels presents.

Mr Speaker, I will certainly take up the matter that the motion refers to and ask the federal government to revise the position of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I do not know whether it was the decision of the federal government to change this measure from five to 12 years or that of the ABS itself.

Mr Wood: I think that the approach we have to make is through the federal government.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes. Obviously, the federal government is the body to approach to get a change. I think that that is an appropriate step to take. The point has been made, and I think it is worth making again, that this year is the International Year of the Volunteer and it is clear at this point in time that the amount of measurement of the volunteering is to diminish in Australia. I would think that that would be a backward step. I believe that volunteering must continue, that it is absolutely necessary at the levels that have occurred in Australia and that realistically we cannot expect to pay people for all of the volunteer work that is done.

It is not a question of saying that we must gradually over time eliminate volunteering by increasing payment for this sort of work. That is obviously out of the question. But we need to know what is happening. We need to know how much of it is occurring, where and when it is taking place and how people view that kind of contribution to the vitality and life of the community. With that information, we can design services around that measure of volunteering. For that reason, as I have said, the government will support the motion. I look forward to some reconsideration of this matter at the next opportunity for the collection of this data.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.18): I would like to speak on this important motion in relation to unpaid work. It is important for us to concentrate on why it is necessary for us to acknowledge, fully understand and record the value of unpaid work. The activism within the community and elsewhere at the moment in relation to the importance of us recognising unpaid work and the need for us to record the level and extent of unpaid work is being facilitated by the Women's Action Alliance. I acknowledge, Mr Speaker, that representatives of the Women's Action Alliance are in the gallery today.

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