Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2036 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

I know that the ACT Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope, treats the issue with a great deal of concern and importance, and I am glad to see that he has indicated his desire to speak. His willingness to tackle the issue of indigenous health in the ACT is both genuine and welcome.

Labor went into government committed to making improvements in a range of areas which, taken together, should make a difference to indigenous health. More importantly, we have committed to working in partnership with the indigenous community to achieve positive change. The first example of the partnership approach that this government has adopted was seen during Reconciliation Week, when the first Ngunnawal elders council met and shared their views on matters which are of high importance to that part of the Aboriginal community.

I understand that the health of the community was raised universally by the council as a matter they saw as a priority for this government to address. Members of the council of elders reported their distress at the number of funerals they attend for members of their community. This community experiences in a tangible way the poor state of its health: funerals are frequent occurrences for them.

This government is committed to doing the things that will make a change, to take the necessary steps in redressing the imbalance between sections of our community. The government has signed up to the Council of Australian Governments' reconciliation framework. We are committed to better understanding the outcomes that are achieved for this section of our community.

The government has committed itself also to an over-arching framework to monitor progress through the Ministerial Council for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. The plan will provide a basis for all ministerial councils to focus on improvements in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Through it we will better understand where we need to focus resources, where we need to do better and how government services can better co-ordinate to improve the circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This government is committed to this process and, through participating in it at a national level, will continue to address and improve the unacceptable nature and status of health in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I look forward to contributions from all sides of the Assembly today. The commitment to social issues from most members of the Canberra Liberals is acknowledged, and I also acknowledge that commitment from the Democrats and the Greens. Last year's Assembly inquiry into indigenous health, conducted while the Liberal government was still in power, was an important step towards a blueprint for the future of indigenous health. I look forward to a unified, cooperative and serious approach to responding to indigenous health needs in the ACT, over this term of government and beyond.

Mr Deputy Speaker, there are many in Australia who continue to use the indigenous population as a means to score cheap political points and as a vehicle for re-election. Since 1996 the Howard government has chosen not to provide leadership, not to provide assistance and not to work towards solutions on almost every facet of problem facing Australia's indigenous peoples.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .