Page 1322 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 27 March 2012

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Social compact

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): Mr Speaker has received letters from Ms Bresnan, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Mr Hargreaves, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Ms Porter, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Hunter be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of the social compact.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Leader, ACT Greens) (3.06): I rise today to discuss the importance of the social compact and the importance of the ACT community sector. As a former community sector worker myself, and now the ACT Greens spokesperson for community services, it concerns me that there have been issues where the government’s record has been patchy in consistently upholding a very important agreement—that is, the social compact. As we know, the social compact sets out the relationship between the community sector and the ACT government and how that relationship is to be conducted.

The past 12 months have been a turbulent and trying time for some in the community sector and the government has, at times, been below par in its approach to consultation, engagement and communication. In my previous role as director of the Youth Coalition of the ACT, a peak body for youth affairs, I have contributed to the writing and review over many years, from the previous Carnell government to the Stanhope government, of what was first called the compact and then became the social compact.

As I have said, for those people in this place who are not aware of this document, it was intended as a statement of understanding about the relationship between the ACT government and the community sector and an articulation of the principles of good communication and partnership. It was intended to be both a living document and an inspirational articulation of the ACT government’s vision of, and I quote:

… a Canberra in which all people reach their potential, and … recognises that the best way to achieve such a community is for the Government and community organisations to work in partnership.

At the time I felt positive about the principles embedded in the compact. I contributed a quote to the foreword of the document that said:

Significant time has been invested by community organisations and government to produce a document that articulates the relationship between the two sectors.

I felt at the time that the work undertaken was of value and could assist in supporting sincere dialogue between the government and non-government sectors. However, even then I was keen to ensure that government kept its side of the bargain. So I also stated:

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