Page 295 - Week 01 - Thursday, 12 February 2015

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I note the achievements reported in the second annual progress report on the blueprint for youth justice in the ACT 2012-2022 highlighted by the minister in his statement. I congratulate him and this Labor government for their achievements in this area.

Mr Assistant Speaker, even as we celebrate the achievements, I join with the minister in acknowledging that this is a scenario in which there is always room for improvement, particularly in the area of youth justice for Indigenous children and young people. The minister highlighted many success stories. I was particularly interested in the story of David, as you called him, and how he was helped.

But, as the minister has rightfully stated, there remains an over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people moving through our justice system. This is where I continually advocated for greater application of restorative justice practice in the youth justice area, which is shown to bring positive results and a very high success and compliance rate.

I believe the application of these practices has prevented many young people from going into detention. As you know, there has been some concern regarding the take-up of Indigenous young people in this program. However, the introduction of the Indigenous guardian officer program has turned this situation around. We now see pleasing results in relation to our Indigenous young people.

Obviously this is still an area of concern. However, I believe the restorative justice approach in most cases is the appropriate response and brings good results. I am glad that the minister is continuing to support these practices.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Early childhood education

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Dr Bourke): Madam Speaker has received letters from Dr Bourke, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Ms Fitzharris, Mrs Jones, Ms Lawder, Ms Porter, Mr Smyth and Mr Wall proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Madam Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Ms Porter be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of renewal of early childhood education in the ACT.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (3.51): In rising to speak to this matter of quality early childhood education, I want to say it is an issue that is very important to me and, indeed, many families in the ACT and region. This issue has gained a lot of attention recently with media reports about red tape and affordability of child care and the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report into child care and early learning. It is therefore timely that we step back and consider why the ACT government’s investment in early childhood education and care is so critical.

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