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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3843 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Prior to the last election, the ACT Council of Social Services issued an election challenge. One year hence, due to inaction by the government, we are having a debate to call on the government to meet its election pledge and the ACTCOSS challenge.

The description of the ACT community sector put forward by ACTCOSS was a realistic description of the working conditions and financial stress currently being faced by the community sector. ACTCOSS lamented that the capacity of the community sector to meet the demands currently placed on it was limited by the rising cost of wages, insurance costs and the costs of compliance with sector reforms, as well as the upkeep of equipment.

The inadequate facilities of the community sector are well documented. Basically, the community sector exists in run-down buildings, offcuts of the government or corporate sector with hand-me-down furniture and computers. The Griffin Centre is one example, but there are many. I wonder what would happen if WorkCover inspectors went around to community sector employees in Canberra to check compliance with OH&S regulations. The report card would not be pretty. There is not a lack of commitment to the principles, there is a lack of resources-structural resources as well as human resources.

It is not enough to talk about the Griffin Centre being replaced. Today the building is unsafe and the working conditions are not up to standard, and it will be some time yet before the tenants move into the new Griffin Centre. Work is urgently needed on the Griffin Centre-we cannot just wait until a magical new building is in place. We need to have the work done urgently and not ignore it in the hope that it will go away.

This motion is clear in its message. We want both the community sector and the community sector workers to be acknowledged for the professional work they do. We also want a strong commitment to improving the community sector infrastructure so they can continue to do professional work. This will include costs, but neglecting the community sector neglects the community with which it is charged to support.

The ACT Democrats will heartily support this motion and will place scrutiny on the next budget, as we did this year, to ensure that the community sector and its workers are neglected no longer.

MS TUCKER (4.25), in reply: I thank members for their contributions. Listening to the government, I was thinking, "I do not know why I moved this motion-everything is so good!" But then I thought, "How come I saw a press release today from ACTCOSS saying things are not so good-and why is it that the community sector, when I consult with them, have been telling me for a long time that things are not so good?" Yes, I do go and consult regularly, and I do visit the places. I wonder if Mr Wood has visited Directions recently. You said that you visit places and just get a sense of the conditions there. They are horrendous, and have been for a long time.

I remember trying to get Mr Moore to get Directions into the new Griffin Centre, but because they were looking only at the functional brief, it was just on who was there at the time-the existing tenants. Directions was not acknowledged, although I remember Mr Moore saying at the time, "We will be able to get Directions in." That did not happen. They are still in the same building and it is still seriously bad accommodation.

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