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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 864 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

In their submissions, a number of community organisations made the point that we need to support people as they move back into the community, from crisis accommodation, and begin to look after themselves. We need better ways to make that happen. As Mr Hargreaves has mentioned, the report details some of the things that need to be done for children and young people.

In my first speech as a member of the Assembly, I said I would advocate for the establishment of a commissioner of children and young people. I think this year is the time to do the research, to spot the gaps in the current systems and assess the viability of a commissioner. I hope there is funding available to do that.

We need a commitment to the care and protection of children. This includes more support for children and young people who, due to abuse or neglect, are not able to live at home. Multiple placements, abuse in care, high caseworker turnover and adolescents being discharged from the care system, without the support or networks required to succeed, are still common stories in the ACT.

I urge the government to consider and adopt these issues as part of the 2002-03 budget, and for the Assembly to keep these points of concern in mind when we come to consider the budget.

MRS CROSS (5.32): Mr Speaker, as a new member, this is my first budget. As a new member, I was obviously not involved in any previous budget consultation-or the draft budget consultation, as it was sometimes known. Nor was I involved in debates on the merits or otherwise of a draft budget, or the appropriate role for Assembly committees in dealing with the draft budget, and the like.

However, there are a number of aspects of the consultation process, just completed, which strike me as rather strange. I understand that the previous Assembly went through two draft budget processes. The first-two years ago-was criticised by all and sundry as having to deal with far too much information. The second-last year-was criticised for having to deal with much too little information.

I was not sure what to expect, on this front, when the committees were tasked with this latest pre-budget process. Labor was certainly very critical of draft budgets when they were in opposition in previous years. I appreciate that this committee process had nothing to do with a draft budget, but I did expect the government to try for at least a half-decent consultation process this year. I thought that, after all their previous criticism, cries of window-dressing et cetera, and taking into account all their pent-up frustration, it was the least they could do. For example, I expected them to at least provide the committee with a decent briefing from the Treasurer.

Mr Quinlan did brief the community services and social equity committee at the end of January, but gave us no information. Instead, all he promised was a proper briefing document that would be available within two weeks. The document did eventually come-after five weeks-but was soon proven to be of very little value. Much of its content and assumptions have since been shown, by Treasury, to be either wrong, outdated, or both.

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