Page 4043 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015

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I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR GENTLEMAN: As the Minister for Children and Young People I thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Assembly today about the ACT children and young people’s commitment 2015-2025. In presenting today’s statement I acknowledge my colleague Minister Burch, who initiated the development of this piece of work in May 2014 in response to the need to replace the ACT children’s plan 2010-2014 and the ACT young people’s plan 2009-2014, both of which ceased at the end of last year.

The commitment has been developed through extensive consultation with children, young people, community agencies and the ACT government. It has been informed by an evidence base and developed using a consultative community engagement process. Over 1,500 people provided feedback during the first round of consultations. A further 87 people provided feedback during the final round of consultations. This rigorous consultation has shaped the creation of the commitment’s key priorities.

The commitment sets the vision for a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to promoting the rights of Canberra’s children and young people who are aged from zero to 25 years. It is a whole-of-government commitment to work genuinely with our community to ensure Canberra remains a great place for children and young people to live, to learn, to work and to thrive. Our children and young people have identified to us what they see as priorities for them. Our children and young people want strong families and communities that are inclusive, supportive and nurturing; access to quality healthcare, learning and employment opportunities; and to be kept safe and protected from harm. They want the implementation of policy that enables conditions for them to thrive. They want advocacy for their rights, and they want to be included in decision making, especially in areas that affect them; ensuring that they are informed and have a voice. Fundamentally, they want to belong to strong families that are able to meet their needs.

We are lucky to live in a city with quality healthcare, learning and employment opportunities. Our children and young people have told us they need to be able to continue to access these opportunities in order to thrive. Access to quality healthcare and education are the building blocks of development. We will commit to providing children and young people with access to culturally and developmentally appropriate healthcare which is affordable. We know that readily accessible healthcare is a protective factor for children and young people. Healthcare prevents problems compounding and improves the long-term outcomes for individuals, families and their communities.

Young people have also told us that education is vitally important to them. While many young people transition well and remain engaged in the school system, we must ensure that for young people who are more vulnerable there is help and support available so that they do not get left behind. We will support these children and young people through the implementation of a world-class ACT curriculum from preschool to year 12 aligned with the Australian curriculum. This curriculum will ensure that our children transition through school having attained the skills for life which will set them up to live life as best as possible.

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