Page 303 - Week 01 - Thursday, 17 February 2011

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My department is working with stakeholders such as Disability ACT and the ACT Disability Advisory Council to develop targets for improving the employment opportunities we are holding out to Canberrans with disabilities. I will announce these targets and the actions that will help us achieve them in the near future. Simply put, what is measured is value.

I am also committed to making the ACT public service a career for many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans. We are already signatories to a commonwealth agreement that sets a target of 1.2 per cent of the ACT public service. I very much regard this as a minimum. My expectation and those of the community are greater. Again, the government will be announcing the ACT public service target for employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans, and the actions that will help achieve them, in the near future. And, as with people with a disability, it is not of course just about numbers or about feeling good about ourselves; we want and need the expertise and insights that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders can provide in order to improve government policies and services. We are already working extremely productively with the elected body to go beyond the minimum target demanded by the commonwealth. We want to chart a path of continuous improvement.

I would like to thank members for supporting the amendments to the Public Sector Management Act to allow for the establishment of identified positions. This will boost employment opportunities in the public service for both Canberrans with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I have advised all chief executives that I expect them to use this power to increase the number of identified positions over time to ensure that they are all filled and to see that they do not disappear in organisational restructures.

Of course, attracting applicants is just the start; we also need to ensure that those we recruit receive the necessary training and support that will turn a satisfying job into a long-term rewarding career. To this end, I announce that $50,000 from funding dedicated to building and maintaining the ACT public service will be devoted to 20 fully funded training places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people with disabilities. Places reserved in the future leaders program, public sector management program and first time managers training program have been keenly accepted by these cohorts.

I am pleased that, in both the areas that I have just identified, good work is being done. We have embarked on our third intake of young Canberrans from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traineeship program, which is managed by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services but which involves agencies across the breadth of the service. It is a program that lives and breathes the principles of respect, equity and diversity. The lives of 24 young men and women have already been given a boost from the program and these 24 are now becoming role models for other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Similarly, in relation to Canberrans with disabilities, we have already begun to explore mechanisms for boosting employment opportunities. On International Day of

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