House debates

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Wakefield Electorate: Projects

7:52 pm

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (Wakefield, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to report to the House about some developments in the electorate of Wakefield in the suburbs of Smithfield Plains and Davoren Park—collectively known as the ‘Peachy Belt’ in South Australia and soon to be known more generally as Playford North. I came into this House after a career in the military, working at the adjacent RAAF Base Edinburgh. When I first left the military and became a candidate, I spent a great deal of time getting to know this community. People like the Peachy Belt Leaders Collective, including folk like Don Hardy and Shaun Barby and others, helped me to understand some of the issues in the community. Through working alongside them and getting to know different agencies such as Anglicare, the Service to Youth Council, the Smith Family and various schools in the area, I got a feel for some of the concerns and issues in the community.

As I go back and review the first speech I gave in this House, I recognised that there was a great deal of need and a desire for change within that community. I recognise that many, while they wanted to work, had become dependent on welfare. Some did not see enough incentive, while others lacked the confidence or skills to take the risky and uncertain move into the workforce. In my first speech I talked about the need to work with the community and with the government to bring about changes in the way that we work with the community and with business in the community so that welfare is not a handout but a hand-up to enable a better future for those people and their families.

I am glad to report to the House tonight that, over the three years, we have made a difference. Working with a number of agencies, we have seen the unemployment rate in some of the pockets of this area go down from over 24 per cent to over 18 per cent. That is still far higher than the national average and far higher than it should be, particularly when employers in the area tell me that they are struggling to find enough workers to work in their factories, workplaces and horticultural areas. There is a whole range of employment opportunities there.

Collectively, we have been able to work with people in the community and the government to look at a better way to bring people together with the opportunities that the government can provide. The government provides opportunities for people but sometimes the framework does not work. As an experimental test pilot, my role was to look at an aircraft or a system that was not working and identify the failure modes and say, ‘How do we address those?’ Taking the same sort of approach—that systems engineering approach—it became obvious that, despite the framework that presented a range of employment, education and support opportunities, there were groups who did not have either the confidence or the skills to take those up or, because of, for example, poor public transport, could not take up the opportunities. But there are also overlaps and gaps in the way that services are provided.

I am happy to report to the parliament tonight that, over the last 18 months or so, I have worked with and listened to a number of agencies on the ground—and I mention particularly the Playford council. I received advice from a number of the elected members on the council as well as staff—people like Ken Daniel and Silvana Cusack. I also received comments from  local people, such as Max Davids, who have been involved in business; people who work within Centacare and Anglicare and government departments on the ground; Aiva Atrens from Davoren Park Primary School; Michael Dunn from Smithfield Plains Primary School; Sandy Richardson at Smithfield Plains High School; and Madeline Brennan at St Columba College. These people have actually helped to bring about a new proposal which the government has now funded, with $1.9 million going to Anglicare.

Next Monday will be the first time that we get together with those schools and Smithfield Plains Junior Primary School, and other stakeholders in the area, to bring about a new way of working with people such that welfare is not a handout but a hand-up, a way of helping people to connect to the services that are available so that young children have a better start to their education, teenagers have better opportunities to remain in school and people have the opportunity to make the transition into the workforce so that they can break the cycle and have a better opportunity for the future. Not everybody in the area needs this help—there are many successful people and successful families in the Peachy Belt area—but this is a way of working with those people who need the help to make our help as a government more effective.

Photo of David HawkerDavid Hawker (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! It being 8.00 pm, the debate is interrupted.