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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1669 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

a family in terms of a husband and wife and children. It does not seem to be able to break out of that mode of considering families. My experience has definitely taught me that "family" is a quite complex term and can mean a array of social networks.

One of the disappointing things about the federal budget handed down yesterday is that yet again, as has been the case for many years, the budget statement on women referred to family many more times than it referred to women. This federal government fails to see women outside the family unit. They see women either as children being looked after by parents or as mothers looking after children and being part of a family unit. That is an incredibly disappointing trend with this federal government. I trust and hope that the ACT government does not follow this trend of pigeonholing women as just being family. We know that we are more diverse than that.

"Family" is a quite complex and complicated term. It has a lot of different meanings. In my first speech I referred to my "urban family", which I have no blood relation with but which are so important to me in providing me with support networks and with what traditionally would be provided by the so-called family. They are key to my life.

On this International Day of Families, I recognise not only my parents and my blood relations-what the Howard government would see as the traditional family-but also those people who are an important part of what I consider family.

I welcome the comments from Mr Corbell about how this government does focus on families. That is important. I will not deny that at all. However, I trust that they do not get into the same mode of thinking as the federal government on what a family is, because that is totally out of step with life in the ACT and across Australia.

MS TUCKER (5.23): I just support what other speakers have said. We all acknowledge that family can mean many things. It is not the 1950s idea of a mother and father and two point whatever children. A family is any group of people living in a relationship that is loving and supportive. It does not have to involve children but it sometimes can involve children. Humans do not want to live in isolation. In discussing a family and the International Day of Families we need to take that into account.

Australia has single-parent families, families that foster children, families of same-sex couples, families of heterosexual couples, extended families and kinship families related to culture.

From a policy perspective, in supporting families we should look at the social condition in which people and families of all shapes and sizes exist. It is harder for some family types than others. With the same-sex families, there is still unacceptable social discrimination, as well as legislative discrimination which we have talked about in this place, as in superannuation, adoption and so on.

For single-parent families and bigger families with more adults and children, poverty is an issue. If we want to make sure the budget is directed towards supporting families, which seems to be an important part of Mrs Cross' motion, then we have to understand poverty.

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