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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10159

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (09:36): I wanted to talk this morning briefly about an initiative, run very much for the needs of the community, by the Victor Harbor High School and the Victor Harbor medical centre. They are working in conjunction on what I think is a tremendous project to assist young people with their mental health issues on the south coast of South Australia in my electorate of Mayo. It is called the 'DOC on campus' model and it was initiated by a local general practitioner, Dr Anke Doley, in conjunction with the local school and in particular with Mr Colin Sibley. They got together because of what they perceived as a genuine need for support for young adolescents going through their later years of high school in regional areas.

We know that regional people and particularly regional young people are overrepresented in suicide statistics and in having mental health issues. This was somewhere where they saw a problem and they created an early intervention program for mental health issues identified by school counsellors at the schools to manage a caseload of needy students who were confronted with complex emotional health and wellbeing issues—depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal tendencies, drug and alcohol issues, anger, grief and eating disorders—which required an additional level of support.

I think it is a great example where the school community itself in conjunction with the broader community is driving a response to a genuine need. It shows the importance of investing in communities. The government does not always have the answers. What government should do is support these community programs when they are developed.

It is working very successfully. Since the program was first initiated in 2004, there have been over 200 secondary school students who have accessed the adolescent mental health program at the Victor Harbor High School. According to the school, the program has provided a student-friendly service for early detection and intervention which has contributed to student health and wellbeing and a decrease in the incidence of mental health issues in early adulthood after students leave school.

Again I say that in my area, a regional part of South Australia, there is an overrepresentation in the statistics of young people suffering from mental health issues. I have visited this program on a couple of occasions. I pay tribute to Colin Sibley, Peter Crawford, the principal at Victor Harbor high school, and Dr Anke Doley because they are driving this program. It is having a genuine benefit for people and it is something that we should look to support in this place.