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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7100

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (16:12): I rise to speak today on an important topic, which, in my almost four years here in parliament, is getting increasing attention and rightly so and that is the issue of mental health service delivery and the mental health challenges in our community. Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, you more than most would know that mental health service delivery, particularly in outer metropolitan and regional areas such as my electorate, is more difficult than what it is in city areas. Of course there are problems in city areas as well. However, it is more difficult to get the services which are needed to rural and remote areas in particular.

In recent times, sadly, there has been a cluster of people taking their own lives in part of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is unfortunate that at times there can be stigmas associated with this matter and usually it is just pure coincidence. However, it has brought quite a bit of attention to those in the community who knew those people, those who were related to those people and those who are interested in ensuring that these issues are addressed for the long-term benefit of our community.

We have been working in a bipartisan fashion with the state minister. We have brought these issues to his attention and also to the attention of the federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the member for Port Adelaide, who has been responsive. The coalition had a policy at the last election, which was groundbreaking, and it is pleasing that, following the election, the Labor Party followed in part some of that policy in last year's budget. However more needs to be done. I pay tribute to Karly Cousins of Mount Compass who has worked with much vigour to distribute petitions to raise this issue and to bring the service delivery issues to the attention of policymakers such as myself, the minister and others. Her work is to be admired, but also acted upon. She moved her petition around the Fleurieu Peninsula and got an enormous amount of signatures. Unfortunately, it does not meet our requirements so we have gone back to the drawing board and put another one together which she is again working through her networks, Facebook and the community to get as many signatures as possible. I have committed to Karly that I will write to the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, bringing these signatures to his attention and also urging the minister to consider the Fleurieu Peninsula—one of the world's most beautiful areas—for a headspace centre because this issue is too important. Addressing mental health in rural areas has to be a priority of this place as you will appreciate, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is something I will be paying a great deal of attention to leading up to this next election and then hopefully in a coalition government after that.