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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2593 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

There is an all-too-brief section of the report on ways the broader community might help. If you attend to matters across Australia, as of course you do, you will be aware of the success of Aborigines in a wide range of areas-sport, art, music, dance, drama-and we would like to see young indigenous people in the ACT helped and encouraged to undertake activities in these areas, whether they have got talents in those areas or not.

Much is available in the broader community, but we would like this matter to be taken further. We want to see if we can develop further pathways and, if necessary, develop specific arrangements to encourage young indigenous people into these sorts of activities because nothing, we were told by youth workers in the Aboriginal community, is more important to young kids than to give them something to aim for, a feeling of success and to improve the way they feel about themselves. These are ways that this can be fairly effectively done, and the committee would like to see a lot more work done in this area. There are young indigenous people out there who would be desperate to get some support in that area, and the benefits would be truly enormous.

I said at the outset that I entered into this inquiry with some trepidation. I thought it was fairly presumptuous of the four of us involved to pretend to be any sort of expert in this area. But I found the report a rewarding one. I hope some of the suggestions we have made, emphasising the need to lift the spirit of people, are of benefit. I thank you, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, for the period you served on that committee and Mr Rugendyke and Mrs Burke, who attended diligently to the tasks that were set us. I thank Ms Tucker for putting the matter on the agenda, and I hope that the outcome is a reasonable assessment of the problems and that we can have some optimism that attention will be paid to it in this territory.

MS TUCKER (4.04): I would like to make a few comments. I have not had time to read the whole report; I have just looked at the recommendations and read some sections of it. Mr Wood's committee has done an important piece of work, and I acknowledge that there is a sense of presumption, as Mr Wood put it, but we have a responsibility to do everything we can in this place as elected representatives of the ACT community to look at all these issues. It is an opportunity to work with the indigenous community and listen to what they have to say about the issues they are confronting. The fundamental role of all of us in this place, whatever the social issue, is to listen to people in the community who are knowledgeable about what is going on.

As chair of the Standing Committee on Education, Community Services and Recreation, I have just tabled a report that looked into services for students and adolescents at risk of not completing their education. We made a number of recommendations in that report regarding particular cultural issues. Mr Wood talked about the cultural sadness in the indigenous community that is apparent to him and others. Of course, there is also great joy, power and amazing courage and stamina in that community, which I find amazing whenever I am working with that community. They have been prepared to work with this committee and consult with them on the issues. In any way that we can we need to support the struggle to find a way to be more confident in the general community.

There is no doubt that there are huge issues. Substance abuse among young indigenous people is a horrendously worrying situation. My committee looking at education made recommendations about cultural discrimination in schools, which are that schools be

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