Page 1181 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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not think it should be an opportunity to promote a particular political ideology or a particular side of politics. Unfortunately, to the ACT government’s great shame, it allowed that to happen last year in quite a blatant way during youth week with the youth week packs including blatant political propaganda. I am certainly hopeful that that was a once off and that the shame of that will be put behind this government. Perhaps they will wait until the next federal election year before they again start to ramp up the political propaganda as part of youth week.

I wanted to talk about a few important organisations that service youth and about some of the important services that they provide. Some of these I have had various levels of contact with over the past few years, and I just wanted to talk a little bit about some of the work that they do. Firstly, I refer to the Gungahlin youth centre. I have certainly had a lot of contact with that centre over the last few years, and I think a lot of the work that is performed there is outstanding. The range of activities and services that are provided to young people in Gungahlin at the centre are fantastic.

A while ago I attended the block party that was held at the centre, and it certainly was a great event that was very well attended. There would have been in excess of 100 people there, I am sure, at the time when I was there. There were all sorts of activities, including dance and face painting and all sorts of other activities which young people in Gungahlin clearly responded to very well. The staff at the Gungahlin youth centre deserve a plug for the ongoing work that they do for our young people, particularly for the young people in our biggest growth area of Gungahlin.

The Create Foundation is another one that I wanted to briefly talk about. It provides support to children and young people who have been removed from their parents and placed in out-of-home-care into foster care, residential care or kinship care as a result of abuse or neglect. These are some of the most vulnerable segments of our community, and the work that the foundation does in providing support to these young people is very important. I have had the opportunity to address a group of young people serviced by the Create Foundation, and it was quite an amazing experience to talk with them and to hear from them about their experiences. I am certainly hopeful that whatever small input I had into that group was useful, but they play a really important role.

The foundation has evolved from a small, volunteer-driven organisation to a national, professionally staffed organisation. I understand at the moment there is still just the one full-time employee here in the ACT, and that does provide resourcing constraints. Nonetheless, the Create Foundation provides an amazing service, and it focuses, in particular, on connecting children and young people to each other and empowering and resourcing children and young people in care, as well as changing the care system from the inside out through the participation of children and young people themselves. I would like to give a plug to them.

I will talk about a couple of other organisations, but I think when we talk about youth week and youth services, whilst government has a really important role to play in providing services, in funding certain services and supporting some of these groups, often the best work is done by the community organisations themselves—the volunteer organisations, the professional organisations—who are passionately

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