Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 24 November 2016



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 24 November 2016

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Parliamentary Record 2


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




pp 503 to 561


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 24 November 2016 542 work in collaboration with stakeholders to achieve the best outcomes by putting our children first. Unfortunately, the challenges being faced by our children today have not arisen overnight and, as such, they will not be resolved overnight either. We need to get this right. We need to understand the factors impacting on our children and ensure that our children will benefit from our early childhood plans long after the next election and the next election after that. Over the last six years I have focused my efforts on preventing suicide and improving access to and awareness of mental health and wellbeing support services. As you can imagine, this is a challenging area to live, work and volunteer in, especially due to the fact the Northern Territory still has the highest rate of suicide in the nation. According to statistics, I assume most of us in this Chamber have been impacted by suicide. Statistics also state that for each death by suicide at least eight people are impacted directly. However, I can confirm that here in the Northern Territory the figure is much higher. This is often attributed to the fact the Northern Territory has a small population, so the chances of us crossing paths and developing relationships with other Territorians are greater. You do not have to think too hard about the thousands of Territory children who continue to experience trauma because of these startling facts. Many of the Territorians we have lost through suicide left behind spouses, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Due to my work in this area I have been told many sad and mortifying stories of suicide and the impacts that such deaths had on individuals, families, communities and beyond. I have learned of instances of intergenerational trauma and understand all too well that once you are directly impacted by a death by suicide, you enter that at-risk bracket yourself. Suicide in Australia and the Northern Territory is all too common. It seems youth suicide is becoming that way as well. How did we get here? This is 2016 and we are burying young children who have taken their own life, some of whom did not even get to reach their teens. What type of unfair world are we living in when a child not only knows about suicide, but has been impacted by suicide and then dies by suicide? Frederick Douglass once stated: It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. I could not agree more, especially since Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in America. He escaped slavery at age 20 and went on to become an anti-slavery activist, author and orator. He had a difficult and challenging upbringing and found the courage to change his life and use his lessons to benefit others. This is the type of outcome we want for our children. Each Territory child will benefit through the early childhood development plan, and government will ensure we are accountable, transparent and inclusive in our approach. As a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, I am pleased that Aboriginal cultural considerations are being included, which is necessary for the success of this plan. I am also pleased to see that measures to address and support the mental health and wellbeing of young Territorians have been included, and for there to be a focus on providing more post-school opportunities and consideration for our young Territorians who are living with a disability. There are many more important approaches included in the plan. I have mentioned these because they fall under the areas I am assistant minister for. This government will make sure we are guided by evidence and best practice to ensure our children feel safe, cared for and are encouraged to reach their full potential. This is why I am proud to support this early childhood development plan. I understand that in order to achieve intergenerational change we must maintain resolve and commitment to the task at hand, while understanding that this type of real and sustainable change takes time. Whilst campaigning in my electorate I was proud to advise community members about Labors commitment to place children at the heart of government in order to achieve this intergenerational change for long-term benefits to all Territorians. Just as I suspected, there was overwhelming support for our approach, and this was reflected at the polls on election day. Territorians are looking for a government that will be progressive, lead change, and focus on them instead of its own selfish needs. That is what we will deliver. Our government looks forward to delivering meaningful outcomes for all Territory children through a collaborative and coordinated effort within and outside of government. We know it will not be easy, but we are prepared to put in the hard yards because our children deserve it. That is why I am pleased to commend the plan to the House. Ms NELSON (Katherine): Mr Deputy Speaker, I support the Minister for Childrens statement on early childhood development. We have just finished listening to some of our colleagues, who have spoken