Page 2943 - Week 08 - Thursday, 17 August 2017

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course, I applaud both of these. I welcome, of course, the commitment to fund the Women’s Legal Centre, because the work they do directly benefits everybody. It directly benefits women engaged in family law and other justice processes where they cannot afford a private lawyer. When we help those who are most vulnerable we become a better city. That is partly women but it is not just women. The CSD needs to deal with women, children and young people, youth protection, multicultural affairs, disability, social inclusion, ATSI, seniors and veterans. All of these groups are very important groups for Canberra, and one of the failings of our budget development process would appear to be, on the basis of Mr Barr’s comments, that we do not put enough emphasis on looking at how things impact different groups in our city.

The people who work for the ACT government and the decision-makers here are employed and tend not to be the most vulnerable in Canberra, not the oldest, not the youngest and not the least well off financially, and so we bring our own biases in terms of our decision-making. It is very important to look at the Canberra community as a whole and ensure that what we are doing will support the most vulnerable members of our community.

Equity and fairness means that the people who need help most get the most help. That is one of the things that our budget and particularly the CSD should be concentrating on.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.25): As we discuss appropriations for the Community Services Directorate I wish to raise a small number of issues. This year’s budget includes significant spending on increases in child protection and out of home care for children and youth. I do not wish to argue against those increases. In fact, if the need exists we absolutely must meet that need. Investing in the protection and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people is precisely what we should be doing.

On this point I agree fully with what Rebecca Cuzzillo, the policy director of the Youth Coalition for the ACT, said to the estimates committee:

We also welcome the increased investment in child protection and out of home care services.

But, and I quote Ms Cuzzillo again:

We would also like to have seen more investment in prevention and early intervention measures, as this is what will ultimately alleviate the pressures at the tertiary end of our service system.

This is what is so concerning about these funding increases: not that we are spending so much more on essential services but that the need for these services seems to be increasing dramatically. This trend is worrying and suggests that the government is failing to deliver to the people of this territory what it has clearly promised. Let me give one example. The government’s out of home care strategy, A step up for our kids, claims that it will shift the pattern of investment to increase expenditure at the front end of the system, aiming to reduce demand for out of home care places, thus averting

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