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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 246 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

ongoing partnerships between indigenous communities and the ACT Department of Education and Community Services; creating educational and service environments that are welcoming, safe, supportive and culturally inclusive; and ensuring that outcomes are the same for indigenous and non-indigenous young people.

I look forward to working with the department, the community and, in particular, the Indigenous Education Consultative Body to progress improvement in performance in indigenous education.

I commend the third six-monthly report on performance in indigenous education to the Assembly.

Future directions of Urban Services and the Arts

Ministerial statement

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (4.07): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning future directions of departments under my jurisdiction.

Leave granted.

MR WOOD: I am pleased to be able to outline the priorities for the Stanhope government in the areas of urban services and the arts-first of all, the arts. Canberrans are much involved in and appreciative of the arts. National data indicates that we lead Australia in attendance at most arts activities. The government wishes to support these activities and restore the importance of arts within our community. We have stated that we will restore the ACT Cultural Council to a pre-eminent position. I have met with the council and discussed their role as principal adviser to the arts minister. I look forward to working with the council in this role.

Our election policies also contained a commitment to provide $800,000 to the National Institute of the Arts at the ANU. This is the remaining half of the funding removed some years ago by the former government. This funding will be provided, as promised in the 2002-03 budget. I have begun discussions with the directors of the institute to identify where funding will be directed. Through a range of school and community programs and other activities, the ACT cultural scene will benefit from this funding. Our early discussions indicate that a range of exciting proposals will emerge.

The delivery of urban services impacts on every citizen daily. I was delighted to attend the Urban Services Outdoor Expo in Civic a few weeks ago, where many of these services were showcased. The enthusiasm of staff was a pleasure to see, and I share their wish to make Canberra an even better place. We need to value what we have-our environment, heritage and lifestyle-and continue to improve our services and facilities. This includes adequate and affordable shelter and support services.

One of the first priorities of the Stanhope government is to focus on providing quality, accessible, affordable and appropriate housing for those in need. There are a number of immediate priorities that the government will attend to in this area. As we outlined in the lead-up to the election, we will remove the previous government's requirement for three-yearly reviews of eligibility for ongoing public housing assistance.

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