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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1295 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

15 per cent of the population of the ACT. The public policy question which Youth Week will shine a light on is how, in fact, we as the adults in this community are treating that 15 per cent.

Mr Speaker, in these modern times, I have to ask: where is the importance of parenting placed in today's scheme of things? We have given our youth freedoms none of their parents had, but we have not emphasised that with freedom at times comes responsibility. I wonder whether governments have taken away the rights of parents with such things as giving youth an allowance to live away from home and freeing them to dob in their parents if they feel they are being treated unfairly.

What about drugs? Have we done all we can to give the right information to youth in a way that doesn't say, "Do what I say, not what I do?"Have we removed the right of the parents to discipline their children? Are we depriving our youth of the opportunity to experience the joy of being young? Are we insisting that they now grow up too fast?

I congratulate the unsung youth of our community, the volunteers, those who are carers of their parents and the elderly, who go about their business without want of reward and those students who excel at school, in the community and the workplace. I salute those who strive to do their best and succeed, even if they do not make it to the front pages of the press. Of course, we can never forget those young people who are an inspiration to us all as they show their strength through their disability.

To the young people of our community I say, "Grow strong and proud. Show us your integrity, honesty and fortitude, and we will applaud you as adults as well."

MR PRATT (8.28): Mr Speaker, I rise to support this motion. Our youth is our community's most important interest and we can never do enough-unfortunately, we do not really do enough-to take care of and nurture our young people. National Youth Week is therefore extremely important and we can only hope that it will remain a proactive and uplifting week for the youth of Canberra.

Of major concern to me as I look around is the need for a decent array of youth community centres across the ACT. As to those which we do have and which are open, I do not understand really why they are not so well patronised by our youth. I think that that is something that the community needs to look at. We need to be able to provide safe and secure entertainment for our kids, certainly through the weekends of every week. Our schools are so important to the instilling of positive values in our children and, of course, it is on our school programs and our school infrastructures that we must continually focus to see that we are moving ahead and developing those capabilities.

Mr Speaker, even with Youth Week this week, unfortunately the war is a subject which arises, as a number of my fellow speakers have also noted this evening. I support our youth being well educated about the war in Iraq because the war is in our face, it is something that is there. Our children are worried about it, they have questions about it, and we need to make sure that we sensitively engage with our youth in explaining what the hell is going on.

I must say that I do abhor the politicisation of our youth by hard-core political elements, such as Resistance Alliance. We have seen that in Sydney. We have seen the deliberate

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