Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3635 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
For whatever reason, our youth centres are not necessarily so attractive. We need to find out why that is the case and do something about it. I will have a lot more to say on the subject of viable, attractive and safe youth centres a little later. Mrs Cross's Warringah Council plan looks pretty attractive to me. I think she has hit on a winner. As my son would say, "It looks pretty cool."In fact, I cannot wait to enter into a contract with my son. It will be a marvellous occasion!
As to Ms Gallagher's amendment, I am attracted to that if, by that amendment, she is simply saying that perhaps we should look at the Warringah trial, learn from it and, if we like it, then simply adopt it. The idea of learning from other people's trials, rather than running yet another trial, is attractive. We run a lot of trials, and we do not need any more. Let us have a look at that. So I commend the motion put forward by Mrs Cross. I believe this is a positive initiative for making our environment a safer place for our kids. To that end, I support the motion.
MS TUCKER (4.28): Mrs Cross's motion looks at the way young people and their families communicate about alcohol and drugs. It is about developing an agreement within the family about how they will deal with difficult situations when they arise. The Greens support harm reduction methods, when dealing with drugs and alcohol in the community. From my reading of the out of harm's way agreement, this program takes steps to achieve this. For that reason, I am supportive of the program.
This motion is particularly interesting, in the context of the federal Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs report into the inquiry into substance abuse in Australian communities, which supports a zero tolerance/harm prevention approach to drug use-harm prevention, as against harm reduction or harm minimisation.
This approach, which is the current federal government's approach, has failed to stop the wave of drug-related crime sweeping through Australian communities. The recommendations from this report ignore the bulk of international and Australian research and evidence now available. It concerns me deeply that the zero tolerance approach is the best a federal committee can come up with.
However, the out of harm's way scheme seems to take a number of steps to create lines of communication between parents and young people about difficult issues, encouraging young people and parents to consider situations which may arise when drugs and alcohol are involved, and to make the effort to create some kind of plan when this occurs.
I support these ideals. Nevertheless, in a discussion like this, it is important to not generalise about all kids. I was at a forum last week where that statement was made. A young person was quite offended by it and said, "I don't take drugs and I don't drink too much. Don't generalise!"
There are situations where some kids can get into trouble, but it is important to acknowledge that the out of harm's way agreement may not be suitable for all families. In many families, discussion about drugs and alcohol is extremely difficult, and barriers preventing consideration of these issues are very strong. I do not know that this will work for some of those families.