OFFICE OF YOUTH AFFAIRS AND KOORI YOUTH PROGRAM
The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: I ask the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Minister for Tourism and Minister Assisting the Premier whether the Office of Youth Affairs, when run by Jillian Skinner, directed Sydney university's
Aboriginal Education Centre to rewrite its findings in a report on the evaluation of the Koori youth program because the report showed deficiencies in the program and made recommendations for improvements? Did the office also order the centre to include in the report details of work that was never done? When the centre refused to doctor its findings, did the Office of Youth Affairs label the university's work as unsatisfactory and threaten to cut funding for the Koori youth program? Will the Minister now apologise to Sydney university and the Aboriginal Education Centre?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: It is absolutely astonishing that the Office of Youth Affairs has operated for five years and has elicited nothing but praise within the State from youth groups, peak organisations, other States' youth officers or their equivalents, and from Federal agencies, yet we now have a change of heart from the Labor Party because, apparently, the Office of Youth Affairs is to be abolished because it is of so little value. The former director of the Office of Youth Affairs has her integrity brought into question as well as the integrity of her programs. What may have changed in recent months to bring about such a sea change in the attitude of the Labor Opposition to the Office of Youth Affairs? We have been told, and it has been reinforced by the Leader of the Opposition, that the Labor Party had no interest in the bi-election in North Sydney - it did not run a candidate, and apparently Robyn Read was an Independent. It is an absolute coincidence that the Executive Officer of the Office of Youth Affairs became the Liberal Party member for the seat of North Shore. Now there is nothing but denigration for the work of that office and, by implication, the work of the then executive director. I absolutely and totally reject that.
I am not sure where the honourable member got her information regarding the Koori program, but to the best of my recollection there is not one program but six Office of Youth Affairs Koori programs operating in New South Wales, operating at Broken Hill, Tumut, Taree, Emerton, Canley Vale and Glebe. I would be very interested if the honourable member were to suggest to me which of those programs or, indeed, whether all of those Koori youth programs should be abandoned. I would be very interested to know which of them she thinks are not up to the mark because I most certainly would take the honourable member's views to heart and examine those programs to determine whether they have a right to continue and whether they are doing well. If the honourable member is suggesting that the programs are in some way deficient and that they should not continue, I am sure that the Koori groups in those areas will thank the honourable member and the Labor Party for her interest.