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- Start of Business
- Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011
- Work Health and Safety Bill 2011
- Work Health and Safety (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2011
- Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration Charges) Amendment Bill 2011
- Education Services for Overseas Students Amendment (Registration Charges Consequentials) Bill 2011
- Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011
- Trade Marks Amendment (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Bill 2011
- Legislative Instruments Amendment (Sunsetting) Bill 2011
- Customs Amendment (Anti-dumping Improvements) Bill 2011
- Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Amendment Bill 2011
- Horse Disease Response Levy Bill 2011
- Horse Disease Response Levy Collection Bill 2011
- Horse Disease Response Levy (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011
- Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment (Inventory) Bill 2011
- Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Early Release of Superannuation) Bill 2011
- Excise Tariff Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2011
- Excise Legislation Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2011
- Australian Energy Market Amendment (National Energy Retail Law) Bill 2011
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (National Regulator) Bill 2011
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Registration Fees) Amendment Bill 2011
- Offshore Petroleum (Royalty) Amendment Bill 2011
- Offshore Resources Legislation Amendment (Personal Property Securities) Bill 2011
- Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Regulatory Levies Legislation Amendment (2011 Measures No. 2) Bill 2011
- Customs Amendment (New Zealand Rules of Origin) Bill 2011
- Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill 2011
- Customs Amendment (New Zealand Rules of Origin) Bill 2011
- National Health Reform Amendment (National Health Performance Authority) Bill 2011
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
- Mudgeeraba Agricultural Show
- Throsby Electorate: Emergency Service Workers
- Hendra Virus
- Parsons, Air Commodore Keith
- National Schools Chaplaincy Program
- My First Speech Competition for Young Australia
- Live Animal Exports
- Kids of Macarthur Health Foundation
- Carbon Pricing
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Irons, Steve, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Fitzgibbon, Joel, MP, Ferguson, Martin, MP)
(Buchholz, Scott, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
Live Animal Exports
(Windsor, Tony, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Ripoll, Bernie, MP, O'Connor, Brendan, MP)
(Hockey, Joe, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
Tobacco Plain Packaging
(Melham, Daryl, MP, Roxon, Nicola, MP)
(Marino, Nola, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(D'Ath, Yvette, MP, Combet, Greg, MP)
(Robb, Andrew, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Owens, Julie, MP, Garrett, Peter, MP)
(Roy, Wyatt, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Lyons, Geoff, MP, Macklin, Jenny, MP)
(Baldwin, Bob, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Gibbons, Steve, MP, Butler, Mark, MP)
- Carbon Pricing
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2011
- Competition and Consumer Legislation Amendment Bill 2011
- Slipper, Peter, MP
- International Development Assistance
- Holt Electorate
- Australasian Order of Old Bastards
- Southern Sudan
- Carbon Pricing
- Green, Mr Trevor, Amedee, Mr Gary, Economy
- Sri Lanka
- Cunningham Electorate: Mining
- Vietnam: Montagnards
- Petition: Medical Workforce, Petition: Carbon Pricing and Murray-Darling River System
- Bradfield Electorate: Foreign Investment
- Egypt: Coptic Christians, Chifley Electorate: Health and Wellbeing
- Start of Business
- The Lord's Prayer
- Deakin Electorate: Rangeview Primary School
- Small Business
- Refugee Week
- Hughes Electorate: Carbon Pricing
- Tasmanian Government
- Private Health Insurance
- Foreign Investment
- Medical Research
- Kingsford Smith Electorate: Kensington Post Office
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Committee
- Cyber-Safety Committee
- Law Enforcement Committee
- Health and Ageing Committee
- Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee
- Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee
- Christmas Island Tragedy Committee
- Regional Australia Committee
QUESTIONS IN WRITING
Ministers: Staff, Capital Works and Acquisitions (Question No. 244)
(Briggs, Jamie, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
Taxation (Question No. 350)
(Baldwin, Bob, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
Bruce Highway (Question No. 387)
(Christensen, George, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
National Police Service Medal (Question No. 407)
(Christensen, George, MP, O'Connor, Brendan, MP)
- Ministers: Staff, Capital Works and Acquisitions (Question No. 244)
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (16:58): I am not into the whole black armband concept or the idea of national guilt but I have to say that one of the issues that I believe is quite clearly a national shame is that of youth suicide. I am very glad that you are in the chair, Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas, because I want to personally commend you on the report that we have before us and that we are discussing today, along with all the members of the committee and in particular my Nationals colleague the member for Parkes, who no doubt brought a regional and rural perspective to the committee. When I first came to this place I tried to get the committee to visit Mackay, given some issues that we have got there, but I understood it had moved on from the visits and that the public work was mainly done in the 42nd Parliament.
To get to the report, the statistics that are outlined in it are quite shocking, like the fact that one in five deaths in the 15-24 age bracket and one in three in the 20-24 age bracket are suicides. It is mentioned that suicide is the second most common cause of death after traffic accidents. We have to wonder, as is outlined further in the report, how many of those accidents may actually be suicides themselves when we have single-vehicle fatalities where it is not quite clear what the cause is. The report goes on to highlight that more than three-quarters of young people who commit suicide are male and that the suicide rate of people in rural areas is three times higher than that of their counterparts in cities. The fact that those statistics could be understated, as the report says—and there is certainly evidence outlined to that effect—is in itself shocking. The latest figures for suicide cited in the report are from 2009—and, as I said, they are probably underestimated—and show that, among those aged between 15 and 25, there were 259 suicides in that year. That means that, based on these rates, these understated rates, since we began sitting this week, there would have been two young people who have committed suicide and, by the time we finish, another two.
I want to get to the subject of statistics, as outlined in the report, and I had to dig to find statistics for the Mackay region. One report, put out by the Department of Health and Ageing, showed that we were, sadly, right up there. Mackay City part A was ranked second from 2001 to 2004 in terms of per capita suicide rates overall—not just youth suicide rates. Thankfully, that seems to have dropped somewhat in the following years, but we still have the reputation of being the region with the fifth highest suicide rate in Queensland. That, I have to say, was all done before the spate of youth suicides in Mackay which I outlined previously in this House, and I do want to touch on that issue again.
If anything, I think that the rate of youth suicide in the Mackay region has grown. As I said, Mackay has this terrible suicide rate; it used to be the fifth worst, but I am told it is now up to being the second worst in Queensland. That is in contrast with the view that Mackay, because of the mining boom, is financially advantaged. In fact, Mackay is extremely socially disadvantaged. We have families on high incomes but they are being fragmented by shiftwork, with fathers and husbands, often wives as well, being away from home. It is four days on, four days off in mine work, or worse than that. Families without the high incomes from mining pay a high social price for living in a boom town with astronomical rents and high prices. There are currently 30 to 40 young people per month that are identifying as homeless or experiencing severe family breakdown in the Mackay region as part of the mining boom. I state that because I really want to give the perspective of the Dawson electorate to feed into this report.
Again, I want to reflect, in this place, on the disturbing series of events that Mackay experienced in 2008. I will read from a report in our local newspaper, the Daily Mercury, from 4 September 2008 entitled 'Suicide watch'. It says:
POLICE and community groups are working together to protect a vulnerable group of street kids after their friend, a boy, 16, hanged himself in an abandoned house on Alfred Street.
The traumatised youths are now sleeping at the Youth Information Referral Service (YIRS), Victoria Street, to ensure no other member of the group harms themselves.
The death of the youth … was followed by three more suicides in the Mackay region and has prompted calls for a heightened awareness of the issue.
It was certainly a disturbing time for the whole community, when these events were prominent. But I have to say that the Youth Information and Referral Service in Mackay, now known as YIRS One Stop Youth Shop, transformed itself into this 24-hour, round-the-clock crisis centre, with staff monitoring and talking to the kids, patrolling the streets and doing all the things that needed to be done to ensure that these children did not take their own lives. I want to refer to Dannielle Wiseman who is a service manager for the YIRS One Stop Youth Shop. I have a statement of witness that the police took, which Dannielle has given to me to use in this respect. It really is a detailed and heart-wrenching report. The names are removed to allay any concerns, but she talks about YIRS providing service there and what they did. She says:
It was decided that the YIRS Service would be available on a 24 hour response basis with assistance from volunteers and community members.
YIRS assisted in the coordination of round the clock support with a minimum of one male one female available at all times.
They also assisted in the distribution of donated resources. There was to be no alcohol or drug use on the grounds. She goes on to say that she and her staff attended known locations where the group of children involved in this were meeting and practised suicide interventions. She personally took possession of:
… a number of items which were likely to have been used in hanging attempts by members of this group.
The response lasted for 10 days and nights from 1 September until 10 September. The work that was done by those people in this region on that issue is to be commended.
But we do have a startling lack of services in the Mackay region to deal with mental health. John Mendoza studied our mental health services in 2009, and his comments were that the community had:
… very little capacity to respond to the needs of those 3,000 adults who have severe levels of disability. At the very best, less than a third of the people with severe mental illness get any care at all and probably only 1 to 5 per cent are getting care that's adequate for them to function as well as possible …
He also said:
None of that service infrastructure exists in Mackay and it means that those in the acute care unit are constantly seeing people discharged being readmitted within a very short period of time.
That was a disgraceful indictment on the state of mental health services in the Mackay region.
Going back to the report: I have not read the whole thing. I have scoured it. But I am going to read it at length. Some of the recommendations that I have looked through revolved around improvement of services, particularly ones that have been seen to be working. The comment has come in there about headspace. Headspace is one of those recognised services that does something that actually works in this field.
I refer again to the police statement that Dannielle Wiseman has provided me with. In it, she mentions the coroner—and there is a coroner currently doing an inquest into these suicides in Mackay—and says:
I believe there should be a strong recommendation from the Coroner that our Service—
the YIRS service—
be provided with additional funding. This would provide a solid foundation of service delivery to young people to prevent a similar situation such as occurred in 2008 from occurring again in Mackay.
In addition I believe that the establishment of a "Headspace" facility attached to the One Stop Youth Shop Inc would allow the Service to expand and to meet the needs of young people in the Mackay Region. This would allow more clinical responses to be provided to assist in addressing this growing problem.
I absolutely concur with what Dannielle says and with what the report says. We do need an expansion of these services.
As I say, there is a current inquest into these deaths that occurred in Mackay, and we will get a series of recommendations from Magistrate Ross Risson, I understand in late August, about that. I do hope that one of those highlights the need for expanded youth mental health facilities in the Mackay region so that all levels of government take notice. Certainly this report points in that direction. The more ammunition that we can get as a community to address mental health issues and youth suicide in the Mackay region the better.
I will close by thanking a number of people who have been working with me on the concept of getting a headspace for the Mackay region. There is Dannielle Wiseman from YIRS. There is also Sandi Winner from the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland. We have Colin McPherson from the Mackay Youth Connections Network and a range of other different groups and organisations. There is Leda Barnett—I could go on and on. People have been very willing to help, very willing to collect signatures for a petition on this issue. We got some 4,000 signatures, and the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing and their shadow counterparts are all aware of this petition. I do hope that at some stage we have some recognition of that.
When I was talking about this issue to young people in my electorate—and it is a very difficult issue to broach with some people because they have experienced suicide in their own family or amongst their friends—I got a statement from a girl in my electorate, Krissy Mulder, which I need to repeat to the House here. I will end with her words. She said:
I have walked to the very edge and almost jumped, but I turned around in time to see the love, that the people that matter, had for me. However it saddens me to say I know a 14 year old who never made it to 15, because he couldn't find a way back. A 20 year old that never had a 21st because to make the hurt stop he stopped everything, and last month another precious life gone at 22. I will never be a number, a statistic on a piece of paper for a faceless person who never knew me, to say what a shame. People need help the most when they say they don't, and any help is better than nothing, especially when they don't realise how close to the edge they are.
How true are those words from Krissy. Contained within this report are some of the answers. I know the government is working in this direction, but more needs to be done and more needs to be done soon, particularly in the Mackay region. I commend the report.