Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3343 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
somebody who was sitting up there as a commissioner, as a person vested with responsibility. I repeat, I do not want this commissioner going into either the lounge rooms or the schools of the nation-or in this case of this territory.
I believe, however, that there is an important role for somebody with this authority to investigate the problems that we have highlighted, mental health, the courts and, particularly, family services. I think it's fair to say that all members of the committee were very deeply concerned at some of the matters that came out of family services, and Mr Hargreaves, our chairman, has enumerated some of those.
For those reasons I do not believe that we should have a separate commissioner. I think that the work that we have identified is sufficient to keep somebody in this position occupied without trying to cover the entire territory. I have outlined at page 136 my reasons for this. I also believe it is unnecessary to set up a separate role of commissioner which frankly I see as jobs for the boys-
Ms Gallagher: Or the girls.
MR CORNWELL: Or probably in this case the girls; thank you Ms Gallagher-under this government of so-called affirmative action, which seems to have a distinct feminist bias. However, I do commend the balance of the report, nine-tenths of the report, because it is a very comprehensive, serious, concerning matter that we have addressed. I would like to thank fellow members of the committee-not least for putting up with me-but also the secretaries, Judith Henderson, and Jane Carmody.
I do hope, like Mr Hargreaves, that the government will not simply ignore this matter. I think it's fair to say that the committee will not allow them to, but I commend it to members. I would hope that those of you who have specific interests-my colleague Mrs Burke, in family services; Mr Stefaniak, in the law; our leader, Mr Smyth, in health-will carefully read those sections, those chapters, relating to those areas and join us in ensuring that the government does take action about some of the recommendations we have made.
MRS CROSS (11.35): I'm also pleased to support this report. It was indeed a comprehensive inquiry, which involved emotional encounters with children and adults alike. We were privy to information that was both disturbing and enlightening. For me this had a personal element because of the people I know who were as children either molested or abused, both emotionally and physically. I think it took on a personal note for a number of us on the committee who either know people, are related to people or have met people who have been traumatically affected in their childhood. We were privy to information on children's traumatic experiences-those experiences that were poorly handled by bureaucrats charged with their care and those that fell through the cracks.
In making recommendations we took many things into account. For me the paramount concern was to ensure that if we did recommend a youth commissioner that we recommend someone who would be at arms-length from any existing bureaucracy, but the person had to have sufficient powers to effect tangible change. Although other states have youth commissioners, their powers are in fact limited at times and they are powerless to effect change in real ways that could perhaps save the life of a child. We need a youth commissioner who can conduct his or her role without fear or favour;