Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 August 2005) . . Page.. 2758 ..
a powerful address, and I told him so. I do not always agree with him on every issue, but it will go down in my mind as one of the most enlightened addresses I have heard.
In any event, Mr Pyne launched these cards a few weeks ago. I am sorry there was no-one from the government able to be there, but it was a good opportunity to see a local initiative being presented. It is being rolled out throughout Australia. It is a very straightforward and entertaining way to get across to people the dangers of illicit substances and of making lifestyle decisions, particularly in relation to alcohol and tobacco, that are likely to lead to long-term health consequences.
I commend Dr Foskey for the fact that she is bringing this matter to the attention of the house. I think indigenous issues are something which we can wisely spend more time discussing in the ACT Assembly. It is an area in which I have enjoyed a long interest. Although I do not profess to have the credentials in the field that others might have, I think it is something that all Australians ought to be concerned about. If we can apply more resources prudently and ensure that they are being applied to deliver the best outcome, then that is something we should support.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (4.48): I am very, very pleased to be able to join in a very important debate. I concur with much of what Mr Mulcahy has said, particularly around the importance of the Assembly continuing to focus on this issue.
I think it is undoubted that issues in relation to the consequences of indigenous disadvantage continue to be a major focus certainly for the Assembly and governments and indeed for the whole community. It is a major focus of this government. We have sought to continue to build on programs designed to deal directly with some of the incidents of disadvantage that are experienced by indigenous people, which to some extent are reflected through issues such as the level of substance abuse, the particular subject matter that we are discussing today.
The fact that our research and our knowledge tell us that indigenous people are far more inclined to smoke, for instance, let alone to engage in risky alcohol behaviour or to use or abuse other addictive substances such as illicit drugs, glue or petrol, is something we know and acknowledge as an incident of particular disadvantage or indeed of the history of dispossession and discrimination which indigenous people have suffered in Australia.
As Mr Mulcahy and others have said, the issues around the problematic abuse of drugs, the abuse of alcohol and indeed the abuse of tobacco represent, not just for indigenous communities but indeed for the community broadly, some of the most intractable and difficult issues for governments and communities to deal with. That is certainly the case in relation to Aboriginal people as well as it is for the broader community. We do need to acknowledge that these are not indigenous-specific issues but certainly are issues that have a compounding problem on Aboriginal people and Aboriginal communities because of the extent to which they are so much more represented.
The last Addressing disadvantage report or the Overcoming indigenous disadvantage report indicates that more than half of indigenous people smoke. The average within the broader population is less than half of that these days. Similarly, more than 17 per cent of