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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 March 2015) . . Page.. 870 ..


In all its activities, the government will continue to advocate for inclusion in its legislation, policies, services and outlook and aspirations for our community. I am pleased to support the motion.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (5.33), in reply: I thank my Labor Party colleagues and Mr Rattenbury and Ms Lawder, who have all made contributions this afternoon in their support for this motion.

Social inclusion, as we have heard, is an important aim of the ACT government. An inclusive society has many benefits, including lower crime rates and higher levels of happiness. However, the term “social inclusion” is contested and often politicised, so I will add to our discussion today by referring to its meanings.

According to the World Bank’s New Frontiers report series, social inclusion is defined as the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society, “the process of improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society”. Many of the speakers this afternoon have referenced those points.

The Joint report on social inclusion, published by the Council of the European Union, extensively analyses social inclusion, arguing:

… poverty and social inclusion refer to when people are prevented from participating fully in economic, social and civil life and/or when their access to income and other resources (personal, family, social and cultural) is so inadequate as to exclude them from enjoying a standard of living and quality of life that is regarded as acceptable by the society in which they live. In such situations people are often unable to fully access their fundamental rights.

To make these definitions more complete we can explore how social inclusion and exclusion work in society. The most visible manifestation of social inclusion issues is poverty. However, social inclusion is not simply a matter of poverty. Many factors intersect to impede social inclusion, including gender, ethnicity, residence, language background and sexuality. For instance, someone who is economically well off could be at risk of social exclusion as a result of the response of other people to those characteristics I have just described.

To understand the other side of social inclusion—that is, social exclusion—we need to find its underlying causes. The World Bank argues that this means not simply noting the observable aspects of poverty such as poor health and education, but asking why they are happening. Social exclusion could also be the result of attitudes and beliefs passed from generation to generation.

Social inclusion is ultimately about improving the dignity of people and recognising their value to society by raising the ability for all groups in society to participate in economic, social and civic life.

While often related to poverty, the roots of social inclusion and exclusion go far deeper. They come from entrenched social attitudes and beliefs, whether

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