Page 855 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

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MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (4.41): A community that is socially inclusive is an important aspiration for any government. Social inclusion is about people’s ability to participate in their community, in their society. It is about ensuring that people are not disadvantaged or discriminated against in their daily lives. The Australian Social Inclusion Board defines “social inclusion” as having the resources, opportunities and capabilities to learn, work, engage and have a voice.

Social inclusion is about ensuring the full participation of our citizens and equal opportunities. People in the ACT need to be able to access work, to be able to participate within their community, to be able to connect with family and friends and to be able to be heard. It is about helping people to be the best they can be in their daily lives and ensuring that people are not excluded. Social inclusion is, in many regards, a fundamental underpinning of social justice.

People can be excluded because of their gender, their socioeconomic status, their cultural and family backgrounds and their disabilities. And the exclusion can affect people’s access to education, health, social services, community and employment.

The notion of social inclusion must underpin everything that a government seeks to do. Every policy and service should have social inclusion at its heart, as an inclusive society is a healthy society, and a society that does not leave people behind.

The ACT is by many measures an inclusive society. Over a significant period of time the ACT government at a formal level has established a framework for building social inclusion through the 2004 Canberra social plan and the 2011 Canberra social plan. The 2004 initiative also drove forward the ACT’s 2004 human rights legislation, the first of its kind in Australia.

I touch on those formal government documents because, as government policy develops, that is where the explicit acknowledgement of the idea comes from. As I will talk about later in my speech, I think social inclusion is a much broader notion than simply a government policy like that, and I wanted to put that in context here.

The one human services gateway, rolled out from July last year, and which seeks to establish a single gateway for a range of human services in the ACT, is an example of where government can play a specific and formal role in that regard. A service like that is designed to make it easier for people to access services and therefore enhance their participation in society. Services such as children, youth and family support services, the NDIA and Housing ACT were in the first tranche of services that were included there, and we can see that they are all very important social services.

There is no doubt, however, that governments must always continue to look at how people are accessing their services and ensure that services are provided in an easy, streamlined and client-centred way. There have always been, and always will be, client groups who find it more difficult to access government services—for example, people with limited literacy, people from non-English-speaking backgrounds and our

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