Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 1034 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
Young people need to be recognised not only as going through a phase or a transition before they grow up. Young people are not just the future; we are part of the now. Young people use buses; young people walk through town centres; young people do voluntary work. They use the Internet for information and education. They control about $5 billion being injected into the Australian economy on leisure activities. Yes, young people are part of the economy, and we are part of the community. What young people think and what we feel is the result of our experience, just as valid and worthy as anybody else's.
The greatest challenge for young people and for the community at large is to retain a sense of possibility and more than a hint of optimism. This year's National Youth Week theme is "Bring it on", which shows a high level of optimism, symbolising that young people are willing to take on life, embracing the challenges and looking to the future.
Being involved in politics means that I am often met with comments about youth apathy. But we should not confuse cynicism with apathy. In politics, we must always remember that every individual wants their views listened to, their concerns addressed and their faces reflected in decision-making bodies.
Young people need from governments a key commitment to helping children and young people. This will include job programs and government/small business partnerships to lower the extreme 16 per cent youth unemployment rate. Many young people are ready and willing to work, and they are actively seeking work and need meaningful jobs to keep them in Canberra and to get them a head start in their working lives. These young people are looking for work. They are saying, "Employment, bring it on."
I want to conclude by talking about young people and public space. On Monday this week, an all-day forum was held at the National Museum on this issue facing our community. I have raised in this chamber earlier the dangerous metal objects that appear in our streetscape to prevent the riding of skateboards. It is well documented in this jurisdiction and others the way young people are being treated when they just happen to be hanging out in public spaces such as shopping centres and bus interchanges. In most other jurisdictions, the answer has always been using move-on laws to crack down on young people's access to public space. Thankfully, this idea has not been tried here, although I hear that the shadow Attorney is floating the idea around in his speaking engagements. I sincerely hope that this path is not being pursued by this government. One has to ask: what is public space for? And aren't young people part of the public?
National Youth Week is about participation. My message to young people when speaking at community groups or school groups is always that, whatever the question, participation is the answer. It is through participation in events such as those showcased by National Youth Week that young people will be heard, acknowledged and included.
MRS CROSS(4.23): Mr Speaker, I commend Ms Dundas for the MPI. The youth of Canberra are truly a matter of public importance. The term "youth" is generally applied to roughly the first third of a person's life. These years are rightly sometimes referred to as the "wonder years". They are filled with wonder, because it is during this phase that a person acquires most of their knowledge and finds their place in life. They plot their