Page 1582 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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Debate (on motion by Mr Doszpot) adjourned to the next sitting.

Social inclusion

Ministerial statement

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (10.39), by leave: Today I am proud to deliver a progress statement on the ACT government’s social inclusion and equality agenda. I thank Dr Bourke for bringing this discussion to the Assembly on 18 March and echo his reflection that Canberra is indeed a community that strives for inclusion. I also acknowledge my colleagues who described, across their many portfolios, the work the government have done and are continuing to do to progress our social inclusion agenda.

It is clear that social inclusion means different things to different people. In working for an inclusive community, government will naturally connect with people in different ways, and it is important to embrace difference in the way people engage in the community. Despite the different perspectives of government across health, education, transport, justice, infrastructure and planning, there was a common thread that spoke of a unified effort to improve the quality of life for everyone in our capital.

This government has long shown leadership in tackling inequality and disadvantage. We have done this through embedding the principles of social inclusion in legislation, policies, services and practices that improve the lives of people who have been pushed to the edges of society. We have done this so that no-one misses out on being part of the life of our city and everything it offers.

For 14 years this government has made social inclusion part of business. We have at different times approached it from a central perspective, and we have always embedded it in the work of government. We have worked with Canberrans to achieve a lot over that time, and the agenda continues today through the different arms and mechanisms of government.

This government has seen significant success in legislative reform that seeks to overcome formal barriers to inclusion in our community and to lead changes in social attitudes. I begin with the ACT’s Human Rights Act, which was introduced in 2004. As members would be aware, this act was the first of its kind in Australia. It forms the foundation for an effective social inclusion and equality agenda. It means we have a legal imperative, not only a moral one, to do everything we can to ensure all citizens can be active participants across all aspects of our society.

Also on the subject of legislation, the government’s changes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act and the relevant arrangements that have been made mean that people in the LGBTIQ community are afforded the same right as everyone else—to simply be themselves under the law.

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