Page 2594 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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If there is a lesson that the government should learn from the various inquiries that have necessitated significant additional funding to address harm, it is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I believe that if we invest more in supporting families and parents we will ultimately see a decrease in demand for child protection and out-of-home placements. Other jurisdictions, notably New South Wales and Victoria, have recognised this and have invested heavily in family support programs in recent budgets. The ACT does not appear to be following suit.

On the topic of youth: I fully support the Youth Coalition’s comments that the 2005-06 budget has neglected the needs of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, homeless young people and young people with mental health and drug issues. The government’s lack of support for young people with mental health issues is appalling, given the growing number of young people contacting services such as Lifeline, who reported an increased incidence of young people who self-harm. In the past month, two young men in my daughter’s circle have committed suicide. That is just in my little bit of the world.

The Youth Coalition is disappointed that no new funding has been allocated to alcohol and other drug initiatives in this year’s budget, despite plenty of research, including recent ACT-specific research, linking substance misuse to homelessness, poor mental health outcomes and child abuse and neglect. The impact of intergenerational drug use desperately needs to be readdressed, especially considering recent findings that demonstrate a link between parental drug use and homelessness in the ACT. Investment in prevention and early intervention is critical to reducing drug-related harm and is consistent with the alcohol, tobacco and other drug strategy 2004 to 2008.

On a more positive note: I welcome the additional funding for upgrading community facilities and the undertaking from the minister that this will be spent largely on upgrading youth centres and childcare centres.

Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8.00 pm.

DR FOSKEY: I now move to the turnaround program. The youth coalition has commented that for indigenous young people, and for young people with alcohol and other drug issues, the incarceration rates continue to be unacceptably high and that this year’s budget has ignored them. The coalition is also concerned about the number of young people with disabilities and mental health issues who are involved in the juvenile justice system and who are homeless. As such, I was concerned to hear through estimates that the turnaround program was only provided to 15 of its targeted number of 30 juveniles as a result of difficulties in recruiting suitably skilled and experienced staff to undertake the complex case management required. I hope the government can solve this problem swiftly to ensure that much-needed support is provided to young offenders. I would also like to see successful programs for adult offenders and their victims—such as reducing property crime and circle sentencing—studied and analysed for their ability to be applied to young offenders, as has been suggested by the Youth Coalition.

Finally, with respect to Quamby, the non-compliance with the Human Rights Act 2004 is of course of concern to all parties, especially when there are children as young as 11 involved. I look forward to reading the human rights commissioner’s audit of

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