Opening Address to Public Libraries Summit, Canberra, 2009
Hon Ursula Stephens, Parliamentary Sec for Social Inclusion
Impressive: clearly committed and passionate, not patronising, limited spin
Cites UK futurist Richard Watson: his transformation of thought from pessimism about libraries (the internet will replace them) to optimism – because of their role in giving people access to the net, spaces in which to use these resources, especially with others.
Libraries “connect people with the outside world”; they are not the quiet places for borrowing books of the 1970s; you do things in libraries now. “Libraries are hubs for community life”; “neutral safe spaces”; this is a response to the “challenge of the information age” [implicitly, the info age challenges libraries because of the reorganisation of social structures for access to information for those not actually purchasing it]. It is also important to recognise value of librarians to civil society.
[Interesting emphasis on relationship between libraries and learning - Stephens is an educator]
Social inclusion agenda, (Rudd Labor Government): “capability and capacity for all Australians to learn, to work, to engage and have a voice” – leads to a rich civil society. [There's a link here to UK - talking about focus on children at risk, to prevent generational exclusion]. Key aspect “locational disadvantage”. Need to emphasise prevention, not cure.
Promoting the Rudd government’s emphasis on consultation and policy development, to move into a new kind of social policy around inclusion.
[Emphasis on children "investing in the future of our society" - ties in with various social policy agendas; further deployment of 'youth' as a key site for governmental action, children as a plastic resource to be moulded for national prosperity - the nation is its young people because of the desire for a future nation of a particular character (nation as teleology)].
Ultimately, it’s about voice; to have a voice is the key outcome of social inclusion and the ‘third sector‘ is essential to social inclusion