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Hartsuyker calls for mental health outreach services for North Coast youth

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Media Contact: Greg Pierce Coffs Harbour: 02 6652 6233 Canberra: 02 6277 4447 Mobile: 0408 532 785


20 February 2013

Hartsuyker calls for mental health outreach services for North Coast youth

Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker has called for funding to be provided to Australia’s Youth Mental Health Foundation headspace so that outreach services can be delivered in smaller regional communities.

During a speech in the Federal Parliament Mr Hartsuyker praised the great work of the Coffs Harbour headspace and welcomed the opening of a new service in Port Macquarie. But he said more needed to be done to ensure the youth mental health services were being delivered in Kempsey, the Nambucca Valley and Dorrigo.

“The problems of access remain. Kempsey Shire Council has been pressing for outreach services to be provided from Port Macquarie.

“In March last year it pointed out in a letter to the New South Wales Minister for Mental Health and copied to me that Aboriginal people with a mental illness are among the most vulnerable in our community, and Kempsey has one of the largest populations of Aboriginal people in New South Wales.

“There is also a significant level of disadvantage in that part of the community. The letter also mentioned that 25 per cent of all referrals to the community mental health service were for those aged 12 to 24,” Mr Hartsuyker told the Parliament.

“At council's request, I made representations to the Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, seeking assurances that funding would be available to provide outreach services for the Kempsey area from Port Macquarie.

“The response was that not every community was able to secure a physical headspace site and that work was being done to expand online and telephone advice services.

“While these services may be better than nothing, they are not a substitute for face-to-face contact with someone living in or near your own community and able to understand the context of your problems.

“Problems similar to those at Kempsey also exist in the Nambucca Valley and in the community of Dorrigo.

“Just because you live in a small country town does not mean that there are not significant mental health issues; perhaps not visible on the street but certainly below the surface.”