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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3367 ..

Social plan

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Chief Minister. Could the Chief Minister advise the Assembly of the government's progress towards the preparation of a social plan which will help the people of Canberra meet their needs and aspirations over the next 10 to 15 years?

Mr Cornwell: You should have been at the launch at lunch time.

MR STANHOPE: I thank you, Mr Hargreaves, for the question on this very important subject. Certainly, as Mr Cornwell interjects, today I launched a discussion paper Towards the Canberra social plan as the culmination of very important social policy work that has been undertaken within the ACT government over the last two years. The work in the paper has been informed primarily by the Addressing disadvantage report that I released in June this year.

The draft social priorities and goals identified in the discussion paper were developed during a series of round table meetings which I held with a large cross-section of people from the community, senior public servants and respected academics. Many of the participants were involved in delivering services and undertaking research representing community interests in social priorities.

The discussion paper which I've launched today, Mr Speaker, for public consideration includes priorities in areas of social policy that we must focus on over the next 10 to 15 years if we're to achieve our vision for the community of a Canberra where all people can reach their potential and share the benefits of our community.

There are seven draft priorities outlined in the discussion paper, Mr Speaker. The first is to improve health and wellbeing. We know that good health helps people to achieve their full potential. We want to reduce inequalities in health outcomes for all Canberrans and we particularly want to work closely with indigenous Canberrans to improve their standard of health and enhance their opportunities and life.

The second is to respect diversity and human rights. We recognise that Canberra is already a comparatively tolerant and diverse community where people do feel free to express their cultural and social identities in a spirit of acceptance and understanding, but we want to continue to build on that solid foundation.

We want to lead Australia in education and training; we want to continue to lead Australia. We are already the most educated community in the country, with 56 per cent of 15 to 64-year-olds already having post-school qualifications. We want to improve on that and to improve the completion rates for year 12.

The fourth priority is to foster creativity and innovation. We are, Mr Speaker, a creative, innovative and enterprising territory, but we need to continue to foster creativity, excellence and innovation in all aspects of our life, whether it be the arts, cultural activities or research and development in our business and in our community sectors. Innovation is a most important way of underpinning our way of life.

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