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Thursday, 16 June 2011
Page: 6423

Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (10:53): Firstly, I would like to congratulate the minister on all the fine work she has done in her portfolio area. She has always delivered and has never lost sight of the objective of her portfolio. I do not think there is a person in Australia who could fault her performance. It shows that she is a person with longstanding experience in this area and really understands her portfolio and is totally committed to it.

I have a question for the minister about community mental health. But, before I ask it, I would like to emphasise just how important investment in community mental health is. Currently the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing is conducting an inquiry into youth suicide, and we intend to table that report prior to the end of this session. That inquiry has discovered how important the availability of community mental health services is and the fact that, if they are available, they can really help young people. Headstart is one of the programs that have benefited many young people.

In a previous life I worked in helping people with a mental illness live independently in the community, develop the life skills they needed and then move into employment. Unless you have the services on the ground, a person is not able to maintain their lifestyle or maintain living in the community, which leads to constant hospitalisation, homelessness and being interred in correctional facilities. It demonstrates just how important it is to have the right sort of community mental health services to maintain people living in the community when they have some form of mental illness and also lead them back to health.

Given the background I have just given, I ask that the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs provide details of the government's investment in community mental health programs.