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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 May 2015) . . Page.. 1388 ..

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (12.09): I thank Dr Bourke for raising this issue today. There is a range of ways that the ACT government supports young people. Dr Bourke’s motion lists many of them. From the ACT youth commitment in education to ensure that no young person is lost from education, training or employment, to the newly developed step up framework for out of home care, the government has a clear responsibility and obligation to provide a safe and supportive city for our young people. I am not going to go through the list of services mentioned in Dr Bourke’s motion, but I acknowledge the breadth and width of services the government provides.

But to maintain the commitment to young people in Canberra as a valued part of the present and future of the territory’s fabric requires more than just meeting our obligations and protecting those who are vulnerable. The Greens believe that children and young people have the right to live free from physical and emotional abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination, all things that I am sure members in this place would readily agree with.

We also know that these beliefs are backed up by international treaties and law. The protection and promotion of the rights of children and young people in the ACT, such as the right to education and safety, is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. To achieve a further enhancement of these rights and protections, the Greens-Labor parliamentary agreement that formed this current government has some specific items that relate to reducing disadvantage and promoting inclusion for young people in Canberra.

This is a good place to start with the government’s ongoing commitments in this area. It highlights that, while we recognise there is, as always, more to do, we are working hard to overcome these barriers. We have the item that will create a true needs-based funding model for education, something that will happen despite the ridiculous chicanery of the current federal government. We have also, under the agreement, provided increased funding to regional community services to better work with their young clients and to provide enhanced support to young people transitioning out of care. We as a government want to promote a truly socially and culturally inclusive Canberra that celebrates its diversity.

To maintain the government’s commitment to young people, we need to look not only at areas of disadvantage and vulnerability; we also want children and young people to be valued as active citizens of the ACT and to be respected and valued for who they are now as well as who they may become in the future.

We live in a young and vibrant city that has a high percentage of young people—that is, those aged between 12 and 25. But how does the government ensure that we are talking to, and more importantly listening to, young people? I know that this has been an issue of recent discussion, as other members of the Assembly would know, coming off the back of the Youth Coalition of the ACT’s Just Sayin’ event, held as part of National Youth Week.

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