Page 275 - Week 01 - Thursday, 17 February 2011

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Children and Young People—Sexualisation in advertising and the media—Government response—Letter to the Speaker from the Minister for Children and Young People, dated 21 December 2010.

I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS BURCH: This motion noted the significant level of community concern about the sexualisation of children and young people in advertising and the media and the evidence which suggested that this is having a significant detrimental impact on children and young people’s health. The motion was noted in August last year, and was put forward by Ms Hunter and supported by the Assembly with some amendments. The Assembly called on the government to act on four recommendations, and I am tabling a letter I sent to the Speaker last year which outlined what has been done to date. I believe you have all been provided with a copy of the letter.

The first recommendation was to explore options for the development of a voluntary code of conduct for retailers in the ACT. To progress this, my department has contacted peak business bodies, including the Chamber of Commerce and the ACT Business Council of Australia, to discuss what is already in place and the possibility of considering the introduction of a voluntary code of conduct for retailers. A meeting was held in December, and further work will progress this year to explore ways information on this topic can be disseminated. One of the challenges is that advertising and purchasing for many businesses in the ACT is often controlled from interstate and media laws are regulated by the commonwealth. Raising wider awareness of this issue will need to be part of the process.

Secondly, the government was asked to ensure that programs in the ACT ensure children and young people are given an opportunity to talk about the media. I am pleased to inform the Assembly that this is already happening. It is my understanding that all schools, until the end of last year, have been expected to address essential content from the ACT preschool to year 10 curriculum called “every chance to learn”. This framework had a requirement that all students are taught to be critical in appraising media content and its impact.

Further to this information, I am advised that in 2011 the Australian curriculum phase 1 will be implemented in the ACT, which will introduce the four subjects of English, maths, science and history. In the English curriculum there is content that covers children understanding and interpreting the media, realising the power of media to persuade people of particular views and learning about stereotypes and other concepts that will equip them to live safely in their world. The ACT schools will be working with this content.

For the other learning areas such as health and physical education, schools will continue using the “every chance to learn” curriculum framework where, as I have mentioned, there is significant content available to teachers for use when addressing

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