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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 28 August 2008) . . Page.. 3889 ..

support. All of us know that there are a number of people in the ACT who do not necessarily have extended family here in the ACT. They often struggle for that little bit of extra assistance in order to look after their vulnerable infants. The child and family centres are one way to do that through the numerous programs that they provide.

That is not to say that the committee did not think there could be a few extra areas that could be provided by those centres. We talk a bit about that in the report, especially in terms of making the services available beyond normal office hours for people who are working and who have trouble getting to the centres.

I know that the centres have actually tried to provide some things and have not necessarily been successful. I think that they trialled a weekend service, but we think that it is worth continuing to do that in order to reach those people that may be struggling and not getting access to the service because it is not necessarily available at the right time. However, as I said, they do provide excellent service.

As the minister said when she appeared before the hearing, infants, especially those up to two years of age, are probably the most vulnerable people by their very nature. They do not have the capacity to say what is wrong if they are not being looked after. That is why the committee thought that it was important to conduct this inquiry. I commend the report to the Assembly.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (11.23): I hope my voice does not give out. I would like to make some comments about this inquiry. It was a very interesting inquiry. It made me reflect about the time when I was a young mother. My first experience of that was as the wife of a dairy farmer in an isolated place in Queensland. I think that irrespective of where you are when you discover that you are about to have your first child or when you have your first child it can be quite an isolating experience.

I also reflected about my time in the Northern Territory. I was living in a place where there was no transport by road. The only transport was by light plane. There were no doctors. Of course, the medical service that was provided at the place was provided by me and one other nursing sister. These experiences, of course, brought home to me the importance of support for mothers and young babies, the importance of providing antenatal support for women before they have their children, and the importance of how we reach these people and the appropriate way to work with these people.

Sometimes it can be presumed that because you present as a fairly capable and together kind of person you actually do not need any help and you know it all. Particularly as a nursing sister who had done her midwifery, it was presumed that I knew everything about having a baby which, of course, was quite incorrect. You know how to give birth, because you have watched other people give birth and you are a certain—

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Did you need more practice, Ms Porter?

MS PORTER: I beg your pardon?

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Did you need more practice or something?

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