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


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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 551 parliament. It is a real privilege to be here. When you have time here you need to make the most of it. I am proud that in the next four years of government we will make sure we have a strong program, policy and plan to target that space, from conception to getting kids into schools. We have a plan to support children in the critical early years. We believe if we get that right and start making inroads, we will drive the generational change that we desperately need in the Northern Territory. I welcome the positive comments from members who entered into the debate. The Member for Spillett welcomed the plan, but she raised questions and concerns about the details of the plan and the budget appropriation to go with the plan. It is important to point out that this is about getting it right. We have said we will not achieve everything we want to do in this term of government alone. We will look to future governments to continue this work. We are looking at this in the context of 10 years. In order to do it right, we need to engage with the experts. That is vital because the experts in the Northern Territory, who are doing this work in the NGO sector every day, are fantastic. We have experts in the public sector in the Departments of Health, Education, Territory Families, Housing and Community Development as well as the Chief Ministers department. We have some amazing public servants who are dedicated to and passionate about this body of work and have much to bring to developing this plan. Today we were happy to announce the first members of our expert panel, who are nationally and internationally renowned for their work in the early childhood space. They have a proven track record of expertise working in the area of early childhood development. They will be joined by up to six local experts, selected from the NGO sector. We will take their advice on choosing those experts. The last thing I wanted to see as the Minister for Children was a group of interstate people telling the Territory experts, who are on the ground, working in this space for their whole professional careers, This is what you need to do. We need external expert adviceleading, innovative advice that is pushing through and getting results. We need that expertise at the table, but we also need the local context. We need the local expertise. We need the people who have the relationships on the ground, know where the opportunities lie and where the threats are, and have the experience of working in the Northern Territory. It is fantastic to bring them all together and get this wonderful mix of people who will analyse, guide, constantly update, provide advice and scrutinise the work that will be undertaken in delivering this plan. We do not have the full details of that plan yet, because if we are truly to achieve successone of the things we have been very clear about with this plan is that we need strong NGO involvement. We need strong support and consultation, with views expressed by the communities, because the solutions have to be place based. They have to be relevant to the place they will be rolled out in. In order to do that, you need people on the ground having those conversations. I do not want to say this will take forever, because a lot of this work has already been done. The previous government did an extensive body work, as has NTCOSS. Our NGOs know what needs to be done in this space. It is about pulling this together and making sure we have the right plan for where we want to go and the outcomes we want achieve, making sure we have a strong plan for delivery, ongoing evaluation and monitoring to make sure we get it right, and to make sure there is buy-in and ownership on the ground where we will be rolling out these plans and programs. If people do not own it or believe in it, it will not get the traction we desperately need it to get. You cannot do that with a top-down approach from government. We have learned from mistakes and failed programs from the pastwell-intentioned and well-meaning programsthat that approach will not work; there needs to be ownership. We do not have all the details yet, but, my goodness, we have a lot of passion from the NGO sector and an amazing group of early childhood development professionals coming together to advise government and the non-government sector on where to go forward. Those plans and programs will be public; they will be there for all to see. We have made a commitment to regularly report to this parliament on the progress. It is important we are held to account and heavily scrutinised because this is a space we need to get right. The more accountable we are the better we will be. We must be ready to have a good, hard look at our progress, hopefully with successes, but if things are not going so well then we need to address them. This is about making the fundamental change we desperately need. You will begin to see budget appropriations as they occur through the budget process because we are working through this. We have heard from several of the ministers here about the work that is already happening. The Minister for Health made a very extensive contribution and clearly there are several programs targeted through the Department of Health that support parents and children in the critical first

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