Page 4045 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015

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and play spaces, we will promote the positive development of our young children as they transition from early childhood and build their personal capacity to achieve their best possible lives.

Our children and young people have asked us to advocate the importance of their rights to the broader community. We have the opportunity to build a stronger and safer community for children and young people by creating broader awareness of children and young people’s rights across the government, the community and the media. Through this process there is an opportunity to tailor our focus and ensure the needs and rights of children and young people and their families living with disabilities are well understood. We are committed to understanding the challenges faced by children and young people when they take on caring roles for persons living with a disability. These challenges include engagement with the education system, financial stress and compromised health and wellbeing.

I will turn now to the final priority of the commitment. Our children and young people have told us they want to be heard. They need to be included in decision making, especially in areas that affect them so that they can be informed and have a voice. Social inclusion and youth engagement is a priority for our government. We recognise the importance of engaging with the younger members of our community to collaboratively build policies and services that are effective, targeted and respond to their needs.

This is an important opportunity across the whole of government. Youth engagement is not the sole responsibility of the human services system; our children and young people are innovative. They have ideas, they know what is important to them and most importantly, they know what they need. We must respect their intelligence and consult with them meaningfully in varied and genuine ways about the issues that affect them.

We can learn and we must learn from our children and young people. Our children and young people have a lot to offer, and through the ACT children and young people’s commitment we commit to listening to their voices. The commitment is something that we, as a government, are proud of. The commitment sets a broad direction for us as a government and the community to promote the rights of children and young people, and sets a framework for how we can achieve this through policy areas and areas of action.

At its core the commitment is a celebration of the strengths of our children and young people. However, the commitment also recognises that we must provide support to the more vulnerable members of our youth community to ensure that their development is not hampered and they do not fall behind.

To ensure this whole-of-government commitment to children and young people, the children and young people’s task force will continue to oversee the implementation, promotion and dissemination of the commitment both across government and to the broader ACT community.

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