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Thursday, 10 May 2007
Page: 139

Mr TICEHURST (9:37 AM) —I am pleased to have been able to secure $1.5 million of federal funding for the Central Coast Division of General Practice to establish a local youth mental health service. With this funding, the Central Coast Division of GPs will create a local ‘headspace’ program. This is a network of local GPs and mental health, drug and alcohol and vocational support services.

Mental health is a major concern for young people on the Central Coast and around the nation. Young people in distress often find it very difficult to seek and find help. This project will offer young people from across the Central Coast an opportunity to access coordinated services in one central location. The result will be a mental health system that is in tune with the needs of young people with a mental illness and able to provide them with the variety of care that they need. This service promises to be a breakthrough for young people and their families who find themselves battling depression, anxiety and other disorders. I know many local residents will be pleased with this announcement and with the fact that the Australian government is strongly committed to improving mental health services for all Australians.

This funding has been welcomed by young people in my electorate. I recently met with a 22-year-old resident, Ms Casey Lovelock, who had only praise for this initiative. Casey is a delegate of the New South Wales Youth Advisory Council, which advises the New South Wales Minister for Youth on matters affecting young people. It is important to note that the coast once had the highest youth suicide rate in Australia. While that statistic has levelled over recent years, there are many areas that still need to be addressed, including the lack of public transport available to these young people.

Further we announced another great youth project of $22,000 to Uniting Care Burnside to continue delivering its valuable early intervention services locally to young people and their families, providing a range of activities, including counselling, group work, family meditation and practical support. Uniting Care Burnside is one of the 103 Youth Links services around Australia that have had their funding extended. Youth Links is a prevention and early intervention program established in 1990 to support young people aged 11 to 16 and their families. It provides support and activities that are creative and challenging, to build self-reliance, strengthen family relationships and encourage community involvement. These are great initiatives for our area of the Central Coast. We have the highest proportion of young people in New South Wales under 19 and these are very welcome announcements. These announcements also reflect the Australian government’s commitment to assisting our youth to remain connected to their families and communities. I commend them to the House.