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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2043 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

was about improving the ability to work together of all the sectors that make you viable when you get into a house so that you can remain there. The report that came from that task force and its initiatives, which are still being implemented, went a long way towards being able to say that, as a community, we can work better.

That is why I would throw on the table today the idea of establishing an ACT office for indigenous health. This would not be an office of the health department; it would be an office that looks at the far-reaching implications of having a job, having a roof over your head, being able to be proud of your culture and getting the assistance you need in the form that you need it when you need it. I therefore commend to the government the concept of an office of indigenous health, embracing all the areas that impact on the health of indigenous Canberrans.

There is much more to be said and much more to be done. The baton has now transferred to the new government, and I acknowledge their interest in indigenous health in the ACT. We have an opportunity as a city-state jurisdiction to make a huge difference. We have the opportunity to fund and put together programs to make sure needs are met, whether in the region-we service a large amount of the community that comes across the borders-or whether it is simply Gowrie Court, Narrabundah Primary School or a primary school in Holt. Wherever it may be in the ACT or across the border, we must establish-as a community, as a government, as an Assembly or as a group of individuals-a way to work together for the betterment of indigenous people and their health. I commend the motion to the house.

MS TUCKER (4.14): I will join in this debate on the importance to the Canberra community of the state of Aboriginal health, firstly, by putting on the record the report released last month, in May, by Journey of Healing (ACT), Are we bringing them home in 2002? I do this to make the point that we still have quite a long way to go and that we do not have only the report of the last Assembly, released in August 2001-an inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the ACT by the then Standing Committee on Health and Community Care.

I referred that subject to committee inquiry in the last Assembly because there was obviously a lot of work to be done and because that government did not seem to really focus on these issues at the time. That work was done by the committee, and it was useful. In fact, I was considering turning this matter of public importance into a substantive motion calling on the government to put in a formal response to that report. I am not going to do that, but I am certainly raising it as something that could be useful. Perhaps government could respond to that suggestion in this debate. Most people think it was a useful report, and it would be good to get this current government's response.

Some of the recommendations are very sensible, and I think a bit of extra response could be made to some of them. To have a formal response from government would be useful. Even if they just look at those recommendations carefully, some interesting issues could be raised. If the government were prepared to respond formally, we would have an annual check-up, through the annual reports, on how we are progressing. There are, of course, other documents that are tracking what is happening in the area of indigenous health.

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