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Thursday, 5 December 1974

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin (BANKS, NEW SOUTH WALES) -It now being 12 noon and 2 hours after the time of meeting of the House, the debate on the motion is interrupted.

Motion (by Mr Bryant) agreed to:

That the time for discussion of notice No. 2 General Business be extended until 12.43 p.m.

Mr STREET - I thank the Minister. What I fear and what the Australian people must fear is that the same mistakes as this Minister is making in Canberra and the same callous lack of understanding of social problems involved in new cities will be repeated in other growth centres that this Government is planning. I wonder whether the Minister has read the 'Youth Say' report which was commissioned by one of his colleagues. I wonder whether he has examined it and assessed the impact of the kind of things youth had to say then. For example, the preferences of youth are not for meeting rooms, clubs, societies, grounds and club rooms for team sports, but for things like an old building that young people can run the way they want or music centres for bands, orchestras or learning instruments, or a big block of ground or bush that young people can organise in the way they want. I wonder whether the Minister has read page 1 13 of the report and, if he has, what he has done about it, because quoted in it are comments from a group of Canberra hostel residents: 'Canberra looks beautiful and everything like that: there seems to be very little provision for people to meet each other'. 'I've been here 18 months and I don't know any groups of Canberra people '.'For base typists, clerks or CAs. over half our wages go on board and then the only way we can get out is by going to a place where we have to pay a lot of money and this is just not possible .... you get depressed because you can't buy clothes and you cannot do anything to make yourself happy.' 'You find people with hangups and everyone sort of pushes their problems on you . . . you can't help and you get depressed . . . and everyone is sort of going round in a big vicious circle. "Hundreds of us are living together under the same roof, not with our families seeing the odd friend now and then ... we never get any advice from any older people: we just have to work out our own problems. There should be counsellors in the hostels ."We are not all mad but we do need a little help sometimes. '

Unless the Minister and this Government can come to grips with these problems in the A.C.T. and concentrate on policies for youth then the chances are that they will fail everywhere in Australia. The consequences of that are of national significance. I have suggested in the past some of the things the Minister should do. Let me quote the recommendations of the report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, completed in 1972:

Governmental and non-governmental policies should be directed at involving youth in national development. Opportunities should be made available for the effective participation of young people in institutions at the highest levels of decision making, policy formation and administration, particularly in those institutions that bear most heavily on youth. Attention should also be given to programs initiated and operated by young people themselves.

This is the kind of recommendation that Minister should be considering. I have called for the Minister to appoint an advisory panel of youth workers and young people in Canberra with representatives of hostels to advise him regularly on the needs of single people in Canberra. I have also called for an immediate inquiry into the running of Australian Capital Territory hostels. The consequence of the disastrous housing policy of this Minister is that no rental accommodation is available, Government housing lists are growing longer- unless you have friends in high placesand so many will be forced to stay in hostels. Over the past 12 months tariffs in hostels have increased by 55 per cent. I have asked the Minister to consider more closely the area of cooperative housing because this is a form of housing that I believe is suitable for young single people in Canberra.

I am hopeful that in response to this motion this morning, the Minister will take the opportunity of informing the House of his policies for youth in Canberra. He may be able to demonstrate today that he does have an understanding. If he does, it will be necessary then to start acting, instead of talking, to achieve the kind of progress that is sorely needed. I was delighted to see in yesterday's 'Canberra Times' details of a youth involvement program. I welcome this program, but it will last for only 3 weeks. What is needed is a continuing program. I noted with interest also reports today that a study on suicide is to be instituted in Australia by the National Health and Medical Research Council and will commence in Canberra. I draw the attention of the Minister to my question on notice on this topic, which has been on the notice paper for some time. The young people of Canberra are looking for a lead from this Government. So far they have not received it. I hope that in raising this matter this morning, I will stir some activity from the Minister and the Government in an area in which, as I mentioned a moment ago, it is most sorely needed.

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