Page 3890 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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MS PORTER: I am not used to this. I am not used to the Deputy Speaker engaging me in conversation. Certainly I found that whole experience of having my first child quite a daunting one. I reflected on that when we were doing this report. I also experienced with my first child postnatal depression and then later on in my life domestic violence; so I would point people to recommendations 2, 3, 4 and 5 which deal very much with that area of support for women who are experiencing domestic violence. I would also point to recommendation 10 with regard to postnatal depression.

We must not forget that fathers are also extremely important. Both parents are important in the support of vulnerable infants. I also point members to recommendations 14, 15 and 16 with regard to the support for fathers, particularly young fathers. I would also point members to recommendation 12 and say that we need to reach women and men wherever they are at the particular time. This is because we need to be empathetic and responsive. I think we have said here many times that one size does not fit all for any service. It is particularly true of this one when we are working with our mothers and fathers and their children. Certainly in this case one size does not fit all. We need to be flexible, supportive and empathetic when we are working in this area.

I congratulate Ms MacDonald on bringing this report forward for us. I thank Ms MacDonald and Mrs Burke for the work that they did also on this inquiry, together with our committee secretary and all the staff that support us.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms Porter, and forgive my cheeky intervention.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.30): The chair, Ms MacDonald, and the deputy chair, Ms Porter, covered a range of areas. I will add some comments about the report. It was a particularly interesting inquiry. I was pleased to be a part of it. I thank all those people involved. I echo those comments of the chair and deputy chair.

Obviously, the focus of the report was around vulnerable infants. As we said in the report, the first two years of life are increasingly being recognised as crucial in determining how successfully our children grow up and function as adults. As Dr Sue Packer said in her report, parental substance abuse, parenting capacity and child protection are always a three-way tug of war.

As our report says, there are a range of factors that influence a child’s development. As noted in the ACT government’s submission, these include, but are not limited to, the following: birth and pre-birth experiences of the child; health of the child and the mother; disability status of the child; the child’s physical, social and emotional environment; and the skills and wellbeing of the child’s parents.

Our terms of reference covered:

children of drug affected parents;

antenatal and postnatal care and support services available for vulnerable parents and their children;

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