Page 1180 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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government is actively working towards establishing an Australian youth forum. The forum will serve as a formal communication channel between the Australian government and young people, youth policy specialists and the youth sector.

It will ensure that young people have a framework for putting forward their ideas and concerns directly to the Australian government. As the ACT government already has consultation mechanisms in place through Youth InterACT, including the Youth Advisory Council and the Youth InterACT consultation registrar, I understand that the federal government has written to the ACT government asking for input into the establishment of the youth forum.

Another new Australian government initiative is the 2020 Youth Summit to be held in Canberra this coming weekend. The 2020 Youth Summit will bring together 100 young people from around Australia to discuss the critical areas on the agenda for the Australian 2020 Summit as well as provide options for establishment of an ongoing Australian youth forum.

I would like to acknowledge the work of all members of the Assembly, relevant ACT government departments, the Australian government and many community agencies for their ongoing commitment to the young people of Canberra and Australia, and I would especially like to thank those that are involved in the presentation of Youth Week. I would encourage all members to try and get along to some of the events during Youth Week if they possibly can.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.38): I thank Ms Porter for bringing this motion forward. I think it is important that we talk about National Youth Week; I think it is important that we talk about services for our younger people in the ACT and how we can do them better and how we can encourage the various groups in our community that provide these services. I think events such as National Youth Week are important, and the work performed by various youth workers both in the government and non-government sector is crucially important.

If you look at the list the government has of supported accommodation services for young people and all the various youth groups, it is fair to say that many of the issues that are dealt with by youth organisations are often in response to a breakdown of some sorts, and most often in response to family difficulties. We know that young people are best served when they have a strong family structure to support them, but, alas, we know that for many this is not the case.

It is also true that governments cannot make families function. They cannot stand in the shoes—although there are often attempts to—of mothers and fathers in providing the family structure and the love and support that young people need as they are growing up. On the flip side, of course, it is true that all government policies do, in one way or another, affect families. Some will affect, either positively or negatively, the ability of families to function well.

I certainly hope that we do not see a repeat—and I have not heard any reports of a repeat—of what we saw last year, which was a blatant politicisation of the youth week event, which was disappointing. Youth week should be beyond partisan politics. I do

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