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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3634 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

things become more dangerous; parents are less aware of what is going on; and there are situations where people are at greater risk of harm.

We need to recognise that young people want to grow up in their own way. They want to experience life in their own way and try things out. Simply telling them that something is bad is not going to make them stop. Encouraging them and supporting them to do things in a safe way is the most sensible thing we can do. An agreement such as we are discussing today will encourage communication and may help people to lead safer and more aware lives.

As I said, I am supportive of the amendment from the minister, so this can be referred to the minister's youth council. Advice can be obtained from young people and brought back to the Assembly. As to the processes of this Assembly, I am quite interested to note the fact that it will now be on the books that we have referred something to a ministerial advisory council. I believe this is a good initiative, and I would like to see how it works. I know that those councils are set up to advise the minister, not the Assembly. I want to see how we can improve communications with the different networks of experts out there.

The experts about being young people are young people themselves. It is good that the ministry is allowing us to access the youth council in this instance. I will be interested to see how that goes. I hope the young people on the council will be able to provide us with some interesting advice from their experiences-and how they are dealing with communication with their parents, as well as the idea of what is being discussed-that is what happens when they go for a good night out.

As I said earlier, I am supportive of the substantive amendment. I think it is important that we are discussing how young people are experiencing their world, and how we can make that experience a safer one.

MR PRATT (4.24): I rise to support Mrs Cross's motion-I think it is a winner. The safety of young people is of paramount concern to the community. Society is faced with commercial, trend and other social pressures, which have certainly added pressure to family life. There is cultural freedom, which we now take for granted. I sometimes wonder whether our sense of responsibility for individual actions is declining, but these are the circumstances in which families now live.

Parents are under a lot of pressure. Where both parents are working, we do not always have the same parent-child contact that society enjoyed in the past. Hence, it is very important that, when our children go out to enjoy themselves-when we, as families, allow our children to go into town, or wherever-which they should be able to do, they can do so safely. Against that sort of background, we are faced with a challenge to ensure our kids are able to exercise the freedoms that all children should have. All kids should grow up feeling carefree-and they should be able to do so safely.

As an aside, I was looking at how we might improve our network of youth centres in the ACT. I certainly echo Mrs Cross's comment earlier-that we need to destroy the ridiculously irresponsible concept of safe drinking rooms, and all other forms of irresponsible infrastructure.

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