Page 522 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015
(a) pursue reforms which support the long-term viability of the not-for-profit and community sector in a constrained fiscal environment; and
(b) lobby the Commonwealth for greater funding certainty; and
(4) acknowledges the risks posed to important community services in the ACT by the continued uncertainty around Commonwealth funding.
I am very pleased to move this motion today about the importance of local community services in the ACT because we all know the integral part the community sector has played in the life of this city-state from its very inception to today. Indeed, when I first arrived in the ACT in 1977 from the Northern Territory it provided me with much-needed support and an opportunity to connect with my community through volunteering and, eventually, paid employment.
Undoubtedly Canberra is one of the best places in Australia to live and to bring up a family. As well, it is a wonderful place to do business. For instance, year after year the ACT education system has been rated amongst the best in the country. As we continue to provide Canberra families with clear pathways from early education and care through to training and higher education, our schools keep topping the NAPLAN scores.
Mr Assistant Speaker, you would be aware that the 2014 NAPLAN test results showed that the ACT was top or was equal top in 16 of the 20 areas tested. The ACT also has amongst the lowest unemployment rates in Australia. Compared to other jurisdictions we continue to enjoy the highest incomes and high participation rates, which are fundamental to improving the health and wellbeing of Canberrans.
Similarly, our health services continue to excel, with the ACT enjoying the highest life expectancy of any jurisdiction in Australia, as well as achieving high childhood immunisation coverage in the general population. This has been achieved through the significant investments in community health services, such as the three new community health centres in Belconnen, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong. This has resulted in better access to the best possible care where it is needed.
These results have not been achieved by chance. On the contrary, they are the results of successive Labor governments working closely with the community and the not-for-profit sector. This has led to better targeted investments in those areas that have a clear impact on the wellbeing of Canberrans.
This is clearly a government that is committed to a vision where all Canberrans are able to fully participate in a healthy, strong and inclusive community. The pivotal role that local community services have played in realising this vision cannot be overstated. As you know, Mr Assistant Speaker, issues such as domestic violence, homelessness and disability are a whole-of-government concern, requiring joint work from the community, government and private sectors—and across all areas of government.
The government has long recognised that, in addition to providing essential services, the community sector is a major partner in its work and is greatly sustained by a large workforce of committed and passionate volunteers. The sector employs approximately