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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1585 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

I agree with Ms Tucker that there are other ways. As a society, we should focus on those. I think that, more often than not, it starts in the family. I am critical of a one-size-fits-all approach. People are individuals. They become involved in drugs individually and do so for individual reasons. I do not believe in sending drug addicts to prison. I would rather see them identified and helped to become drug free.

There are big challenges ahead for us as a parliament, and for the wider community, in the areas of prevention and intervention. Schools play a huge part on the prevention front. Providing a solid education for children is often an effective method of prevention.

Further to that, much more needs to be done, at most levels of schooling, to educate children about drugs-and not just a message that says, "Don't do it." The pressures on young people today can be overwhelming. Those who are struggling with life need help, not platitudes. In addition, we need to train teachers, and the community at large, to recognise those who are struggling with life and find ways to help them individually.

The second big challenge is to appropriately help those who are involved in drug abuse. As a community, we must embrace these people, who are predominantly young people, and, instead of giving them condemnation, afford them the types of facilities that can help them.

Surveys like the one we are discussing today are not always highly accurate, but they paint a general picture of how our young people are thinking about issues. It would be foolish for us as an Assembly to ignore or make light of them.

I applaud Assembly members who have been vocal on this issue, both in the past and at present. Whilst some people are thinking of this problem, as Mr Corbell mentioned earlier, and most are aware of it, it is up to the broader community as a whole to recognise it as a community issue-an issue which will worsen unless we take ownership of it. Parents, friends, aunts. uncles, grandparents and acquaintances should focus on this as a whole.

Mr Corbell stated that there are no magic bullets in addressing this problem, and that this problem will continue for years to come. I have a response to that comment. We could simply accept that this is going to continue for years to come, but I do not accept that. I believe that if we wait for a magic bullet or a response and do not do something about it, it will continue. But we can put our foot down and say, "That's it! I'm not prepared to stand by and watch people dying on the streets, continuing to be hooked on drugs, alcohol and other things that our children get hooked on. I will not accept it. I will not accept that this is something that must continue for years to come because that is a fait accompli." It is not.

It is up to us as a community to do something about it, and do it now.

MR STEFANIAK (5.08): Mr Speaker, I have listened with interest to this debate-and some very measured comments have been made by everyone taking part. It is a very difficult issue. I can appreciate the dilemma of the government in relation to this-especially Mr Corbell, as education minister, who must see what else can occur in our schools. I think Mr Pratt should be commended for bringing on this matter of public importance, because it is just that.

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