Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Statements by Members
Higgins Electorate: Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program
For many Australians, a childhood growing up kicking the footy, swimming in the local creek and running free with your mates presents an idyllic image. Two weeks ago, I witnessed a community of beautiful young Australians enjoying such a childhood, and I was impressed with their potential. As part of the Australian Defence Force Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program, which aims to improve primary and environmental health and living conditions in remote Indigenous communities, I travelled to Canteen Creek and Wutunugurra in the Northern Territory to help with their community building and health projects. I was impressed with the two-way opportunity presented by the Army's program to upskill local communities and also provide practical opportunities for our Defence Force personnel and Army Reserve volunteers to prepare for humanitarian missions overseas.
I both recognise and congratulate the Defence Force and the reservists for the valuable humanitarian projects that they undertake right here on our home soil. My experience at Canteen Creek and Wutunugurra brought home to me the economic barriers of isolation in very remote communities and the obvious limited opportunities for the community's children as they transition from childhood innocence to young adults wanting to participate in the economic prosperity of our great nation. It troubles me to think about the hurdles before these young people. I also worry about role models, where the majority of people in communities such as these receive welfare for their entire adult lives because there are limited incentives, or disincentives, to choose another path. I congratulate the Prime Minister for his leadership on this issue and for his view that we must look to new solutions, because more of the same will not give young people the opportunities that they deserve.