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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2594 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

inclusive in their culture and challenge some of the prejudices of the community brought into the schoolyard by the students. We have an opportunity in schools to address some of the cultural issues of discrimination. That has to be recognised as a very important factor in how young indigenous people feel about themselves. They feel they are still seen as other or different, and that is hard for any young human being.

We need to accept that that is still an issue, and it became clear to my committee that it is an issue for Aboriginal people in our society. That is not okay at all; it is totally unacceptable. As a community that cares about one another, we would hope to see a really serious commitment to addressing those issues in any way that we can. In the recommendations here there is reference to quite a number of services and the need for further consultation with the indigenous community on how to improve services. By consulting respectfully, listening, asking and giving control to the community of service delivery, we are also addressing the cultural and esteem problems that Mr Wood alluded to.

I can see, even from a first look at these recommendations, that there is great potential here for whoever is in government after October to make more effort. I am not saying this government has not made any effort in the field; it has. But there is a lot of work to be done, and I am hoping that this report will be useful in how we support Aboriginal people in Canberra.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (4.09): Although I have only had time to scan through the recommendations, I am determined to make some comment on this today because I think that it is such an important and serious issue. I welcome the report from the committee, particularly such a substantial report, and I am pleased that the committee has recommended that we do the work with ACT and New South Wales people to develop the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander regional health plan. Of course, that was done in a coordinated manner using the techniques that were recommended in the report.

All of us recognise-and it is one of the great challenges for future health ministers and ministers who have anything to do with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders-that we have an embarrassing situation. We have an appalling situation where our morbidity and mortality statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are so out of kilter with those of other Australians that we cannot do anything other than work towards constant improvement.

We try to manage many things within limited budgets. Indeed, we try to manage health within a limited budget. I would recommend to parties and individuals going for election in October that they commit themselves to a significant increase of funding for Aboriginal health. Aboriginal health is not just about what happens within the health portfolio; it is also about what happens in the housing portfolio and within corrections. Those are within my responsibility, but it is also about policing, education and a range of things. Although I have not had the chance to go through this report, I am sure that that would be recognised in it because other members of the Assembly I have spoken to understand that.

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