Territory Stories

Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017



Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017

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Parliamentary Record 8


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Thursday 19 October 2017 2738 However, there is a clear need to be able to access more school counsellors for our students. I will be looking at ways in which these positions can be better accessed to support not only our children, but our staff and families in need. Thank you to the expert reference panel and cross -agency working group for their contribution to this important early childhood development plan. Like my colleagues before me, I encourage all Territorians to read over the Starting Early for a Better Future draft early childhood development plan, and to have their say before the December deadline. Finally, I thank the Minister for Children for her leadership in the early childhood policy space, and I commend her statement on the early childhood development plan. Mr COLLINS (Fong Lim): Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak in support of the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Childrens statement with regard to the governments commitment to early childhood development. This issue is the central plank of Territory Labors election platform last year. We were clear in what we were saying; the people of the Territory were equally clear in their response. Early childhood development is something every one of us on this side of the House takes seriously, and each member of the community should take it seriously as well. As the minister said in her opening statement, in the last 12 months we have welcomed about 4000 babies, at least it feels like that. Every time you turn around someone else is having a baby. It seems that something is in the water, and I am not talking about PFAS. We are committed to undertaking long-term, systemic reform based on sound evidence, which has at its heart the desire to ensure all Territorian children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The minister recently released the governments draft 10-year plan, Starting Early for a Better Future, a plan aimed squarely at improving the lives of young children in the Northern Territory. Starting Early for a Better Future is the cornerstone of the governments commitment to put children at the heart of our decision -making. There is no doubt that getting our policies right and ensuring the correct delivery of services for children in their earliest years makes a fundamental difference to a childs development. We must do everything we can to ensure our children and their families are healthy, safe, engaged and supported. I note the Member for Namatjiras comments in his contribution and his call for proper recognition of kinship care being fundamental to assisting those family relationships in Aboriginal communities. The first years are critical and lifelong differences can be made by giving children the best start in life. Parents and families have hard jobs, particularly in the regional and remote communities where the level of services is simply not as good as it is in major cities. With different pressures, skill sets and levels of advantage and disadvantage, not all families are equal in these various areas. It is a reality that governments do not have the capacity to ensure everyone is equal. I note the debate we have had today about horizontal fiscal equalisation. At its heart is one of the issues we need to address. The federal government in Canberra simply does not care. It pays lip service to supporting and developing the north and puts money aside, but then it does not approve any projects. As I understand, none of that money has been spent at this point in time. I sometimes think the federal government does not believe there is anything west of the Great Dividing Range. It is not only us but Western Australia too. It is a bit like the o ld maps you would see where parts of the ocean were drawn with sea monsters in them and notations like, There be monsters. That is the type of map they have of Australia in Canberra, so that is all they think is in the Territory. Some of you would have seen a Facebook post recently. A number of people have shared it. The Member for Katherine has shared it. It is the one about privilege. Ms Nelson: Powerful. Mr COLLINS: Very powerful, indeed. It is about a bunch of young people who line up, ready to compete in a race for $100. There are males and females and a broad mix of racial backgrounds. The guy conducting the race then starts making serious statements. When a statement applies to a participant, the participant takes two steps forward. The questions then follow: Are both your parents still married?; Did you grow up

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