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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1636 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

stated that the government will develop quarterly reports on the current state and effectiveness of services delivered to the indigenous community in the ACT. Have these reports occurred, and what have you discovered?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Dundas for the question. Certainly issues around the status of the indigenous community of the ACT are matters of great importance to this government, Mr Speaker. We are determined, on a number of fronts, to progress not just issues around reconciliation but also issues around quality of life and the capacity of the indigenous people in this community to participate fully within the community.

As I have said on many occasions, it is an issue of grave concern to the government, and indeed to all Canberrans, that many indigenous people within this community suffer the same range and level of disadvantage confronted by indigenous people throughout Australia. Certainly all the indicators in relation to health and wellbeing, and representations before the courts-in the criminal justice system and contact with the police-are as worrying and concerning here as they are elsewhere.

The fundamental measure is life expectancy. It is a matter of continuing concern and shame in this nation that, here in the national capital, indigenous people suffer the same life expectancy figures as are experienced elsewhere.

In acknowledging the issues we face with regard to the indigenous population-in respect of indigenous programs and the funding of those programs-the government has embarked on a process for determining what our priority areas of expenditure should be, how the programs that are in place are operating and how effective they are. That process involves the chief executive officers of each of the ACT government departments, under the chairmanship of the chair of the ATSIC Regional Council, Mrs Iris White.

That is an innovative approach that this government has taken to measure the effectiveness of programs for indigenous people here in the ACT. It is something that expresses, I think very fully, the government's determination to work with indigenous people on this issue and to acknowledge the importance of indigenous leadership in seeking to drive change. Therefore, we have asked Mrs Iris White-who is, as I say, the chair of the ATSIC Regional Council-to chair a working party comprising the CEOs of each of our departments in the ACT to look across government at every one of the programs which delivers services to indigenous people.

Preliminary work has been done on that. Departments have identified, across portfolios, which specific programs exist and what their funding arrangements are. The issue presenting to the government is to determine how effective those programs are and how we should prioritise them.

One of the findings of the initial research work that has been done in relation to these projects is that a large number of separate indigenous programs exist within the ACT, with significant levels of funding involved. I would have to go back for further detail on that, but I understand-and it was something which came as a surprise to me-that there are in the order of 65 separate indigenous-specific programs funded in the ACT, from a combination of Commonwealth and territory sources, comprising expenditure of up to $12 million a year. A real challenge exists there for the government.

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