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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3339 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services on these initiatives and hope there will be more to come.

In conclusion, this report is an extensive review into the services provided to our young people-a review conducted from evidence from the community itself, from the judiciary, from legal practitioners, from foster carers, from young carers and from young people themselves. It tries to recommend change to make life good for all young people. It should not be regarded as a statement of deficiencies of the government but should be regarded as a positive attempt to show where we're not doing so well and need to improve.

I'd like to point out that the report is predominantly a unanimous one, with only one chapter being in dispute. Mr Cornwell has a differing view on the need for an independent commissioner for children and young people and has appended his view at the end of chapter 10.

May I thank committee members for their input, their compassion and their hard work in compiling this report. I would also like to thank all of the people who gave evidence and provided submissions. This report was made possible by the professionalism and dedication to the subject by the committee secretaries, Judith Henderson and Jane Carmody, without whom it may have been impossible to complete. The committee started its deliberations not knowing where the investigations would lead to and it is to their professional credit that they were able to distil the thoughts and intentions of four members of the committee into a coherent document. Thanks also have to go to Judy Moutia, who provided the administrative support to the committee secretary, and through it to the committee itself.

I commend the report to the Assembly in a spirit of goodwill and I hope for positive change.

MS DUNDAS (11.16): I am very pleased to support the motion and this report today. I would also like to add my thanks to the submitters, the young people we heard from; all those who gave evidence; the secretaries of the committee, Jane Carmody and Judith Henderson, who helped the committee through this very difficult inquiry; and my fellow members of the committee who were able to pull together a very wide range of issues to come up with this consolidated report.

It has been an exhaustive process to come up with this report, but it is certainly not the first report to come to this Assembly with children and young people as its focus. But such comprehensive terms of reference allowed us to explore a wide gambit of issues. The terms of reference covered many aspects relating to the rights, interests and wellbeing of children and young people and so the report covers a range of areas, but I believe it could be classified into two main themes-a focus on protecting children at risk and ensuring that our systems are working for them, and a focus on what young people themselves told us was important to them.

Our democracy is based on the premise that groups of people will stand up for their own interests and rights. Generally speaking, children and young people are not in a position to do so. Children are a large but uniquely uninfluential sector of the population. They are particularly powerless and vulnerable and are generally highly restricted in both the

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