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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1294 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

reminded at this point of a cousin who took her own life at a very young age, who had had two babies as a teenager and left those two children. Obviously, I am of a heart to try to listen to young people and I really believe that it is tragic that many people do not have mechanisms, do not have support systems and do not have family around them at their point of need. We need to meet young people at their point of need, not expect them to be always coming to us. We must do better by our younger generation.

I think that we often send wrong and mixed messages to a very vulnerable age group. One of the many ways we can assist young people is by ensuring that they have hope for the future, hope that they will have the stability and certainty of a job to move on to, or at least by providing them with a range of skills to equip them for the world of work.

My dad always told me that you cannot put an old head on young shoulders. How right he was. Notwithstanding this, it is important to provide mechanisms for our young people to be heard. As I have said, we often try to suppress the voice of young people. Sometimes there is wisdom in doing that; other times we need to allow them to have that voice.

I love the theme for this year's National Youth Week-"What's it to you?"I am sure that many young people feel that they are not being heard. Whilst I am only one person, I listen to and take seriously the rights of young people to have their say. After all, I may even learn something. This theme, whilst challenging young people, as Ms Dundas says, also challenges me. Are we really serious when we say that children are our future? Are we really thinking that out and are we thinking that through? I would ask members of this Assembly to think really hard about what it is to them? What are our young generation to each of you? I fully support Ms MacDonald's motion.

MRS CROSS (8.24): Youth Week, as has been mentioned on a number of occasions this evening, is to run between 5 and 13 April, starting this Saturday. Events in the ACT will include a sexuality summit, a youth expo celebrating the youth of Gungahlin, soccer games, discos, a film festival with short films made by the young, a young parents' picnic, street drama and theatre, as well as classes, writing workshops, forums and open days at various facilities.

Given that we are speaking of Youth Week, I would like to acknowledge the young person we have in our chamber today, Abby. She is our future. She is one of the people that we're speaking of today. It is nice to see you, Abby.

I would like to commend Ms MacDonald on her motion. I support it completely. One of the things that I find very interesting is that statistics from the census carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2001 show that there were 12,011 boys and 11,480 girls aged between 10 and 14 in the ACT and there were a further 12,622 boys and 11,867 girls aged between 15 and 19, that is, a total of 23,491 boys and girls aged between 10 and 14 and a total of 24,489 young adults aged between 15 and 19. I am sure you were riveted by that statistic, Mr Speaker. In total, we have 47,980 people aged between 10 and 19.

Those statistics also reveal that close to 11,000 in the 15 to 19-year age group are voters. That should be interesting. That means that the number of 10 to 19-year-olds form about

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