Page 2078 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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parenting advice, and family support activities. Psychologists, speech pathologists, early education specialists, maternal and child health nurses, nutritionists and social workers are available to offer information and support.

A temporary child and family centre commenced in Gungahlin in August 2004 and began full service delivery in January. However, it is the purpose-built centre, currently in the design phase, that is truly exciting. Recognising that they are key stakeholders in such a centre, children have been intimately involved in the initial consultation stage. A reference group of 21 children from the Gungahlin community has been formed. This group began meeting in April and has met regularly through the design phase of the centre. The group will continue to be involved through the launch of the centre and will then provide input into service delivery and development.

Through these meetings, a variety of age-appropriate methods were used to engage the children to obtain their ideas and viewpoints in relation to the development of the centre. A cross-section of children is represented on the reference group, and they are drawn from local government and non-government primary schools. The recruitment process also had an emphasis on attracting a diverse range of participants, including those experiencing disability or economic disadvantage, males, females, indigenous, and linguistically and culturally diverse students. The members of the group are aged from seven to 12 and were nominated by their schools.

Already the group has put forward practical and inspiring ideas about creating a welcoming place for families. The children are very conscious of issues ranging from wheelchair access and safe playing areas through to water conservation for landscaping. The children have participated in six sessions. Each session has focussed on issues of diversity, accessibility, disability, indigenous and multicultural awareness, building and construction, design, and youth participation. To raise the children’s awareness of these issues, a range of guest presenters attended the sessions, including Larry Brandy, an indigenous storyteller; Rick Small, the architect; and Linda Dobbs, an interior designer.

In addition, the children have completed activities involving prams, wheelchairs, multicultural posters and blindfolds to better understand the experience of people with diverse backgrounds and needs. The children have also conducted surveys within their school community on paint colours and design for the interior walls of the centre. This has informed the architect’s decision on how the design and construction should proceed. The reference group has led to changes being made to the design to ensure that it caters to one of its major stakeholders effectively.

To date I am delighted with the outcomes of the consultation. The Stanhope government will remain committed to engaging with all members of the community using the most innovative and appropriate methods available.

MR GENTLEMAN: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, is this the first time children have been consulted in this way? Are there plans to undertake similar consultations in the future?

MS GALLAGHER: It is anticipated that this consultation strategy will become part of the broader children’s consultation framework. Early evaluation of the consultation has

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