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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 22 March 2018) . . Page.. 973 ..

winter there was a “take one, leave one” coat rack project run by ANU students where people could leave free coats. They provide learning and interest programs on a range of topics. With increasing awareness of the potential to provide connections and support to people experiencing homelessness, there is more knowledge about them. Libraries are partnering with service providers to help raise awareness of the services and welcome people experiencing homelessness to the library.

For many people experiencing homelessness, the personal connection with someone at a library can be far more valuable than you may imagine. It may be one of their few personal interactions with another human being during the course of that day. I am sure you are all aware that in many instances where you see a person experiencing homelessness, perhaps on the street, the reaction of many people is to look away, not make eye contact and not engage in conversation. It can be a very isolating experience for a person who is already suffering from a range of complex issues.

Another area is the services for parents and babies: for mothers, fathers, grandparents, carers and children generally. The branches have collections including board and picture books, parenting information and resourcing. They have community and parenting information displays and pamphlets. They are welcoming, comfortable and safe spaces with helpful staff. Parent groups can book a visit to the library, including a “giggle and wiggle” session. Giggle and wiggle is an early literacy program for children aged up to two years old and their carers. It is held weekly at seven of our library branches, with a total of 10 sessions per week. The average attendance at each session is 104 people. The total attendance in 2017 was 38,343, which is an excellent result.

Our libraries also offer community engagement, such as family literacy and multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander coordinators. They often collaborate with community partners, government and non-government, supporting parents and carers of young children and focusing on parents and families with particular needs, such as those with disability or mental health needs, those who are culturally and linguistically diverse, people who are at risk, and young parents. The partners of the library programs include the child and family centres, the child development service, Kippax UnitingCare, Belconnen Community Service, Playgroups ACT, Navitas, Gugan Gulwan and Winnunga.

School libraries, which I mentioned earlier, are a vital and evolving part of learning. I know that my colleague Ms Lee is going to make some comments about school libraries specifically. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of teacher librarians.

In this place we are very well served by the Assembly library. I make special mention of Jan Bodoni and the rest of the team in our own Assembly library who provide us, the members, with a great range of support, including much of the information in my speech today and information and research relating to motions and bills that we undertake in this place. They are a great resource. Their work is very much appreciated.

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