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Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Page: 1445

Mental Health


Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (14:44): My question is to the Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories, Minister for Regional Communications and Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Nash. With today marking the inaugural headspace day, can the minister inform the Senate of the work the government is doing to support youth mental health and, in particular, the important work that headspace is doing across our communities?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:44): I thank the Senator for her question and acknowledge her very real commitment to young people across this nation that have mental health issues.

Today marks 10 years since headspace was established by the Howard government. The member for Sturt, Minister Pyne, was the minister responsible for establishing the model back in 2006, and Ryan Stokes served as the then fledgling organisation's inaugural chair. Today we acknowledge their instrumental roles in setting up what has become such a successful national organisation.

As Senator McKenzie highlighted in her question, I am very pleased to inform the Senate that today marks the inaugural National headspace Day. Headspace Day, to be held on 11 October every year, will be a new national day of awareness to promote access to youth-friendly mental health services for all young Australians no matter where they live. I think that is something that will be welcomed by all across the chamber.

The headspace network is so important for our young people, because around 560,000 children and adolescents are estimated to have mental illness and one in four young Australians aged 16 to 24 years will experience mental illness in any given year. That is something of which we are all acutely aware. Three-quarters of all mental illness manifests itself in people under the age of 25, and intervention early in life and at an early stage of illness can reduce the duration and impact of mental illness—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator NASH: I would suggest that rather than interject those opposite would be inclined to work with the government to ensure that we deliver mental health services across this county. I note again that it was a coalition government, under Prime Minister John Howard, that instigated this tremendous headspace program.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKenzie, a supplementary question.




Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (14:46): Can the minister explain how successful the government's headspace model has been since it was established?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:47): I can indicate to the chamber that the model has been highly successful since it was first established, and it is something which we on this side of the chamber are very proud of.

The headspace network has grown significantly since the first centres in Adelaide and Darwin opened. Since 2006, headspace centres and eheadspace have provided 260,000 young people with support and advice. By February next year, 100 headspace centres will have be established and will assist up to 80,000 young Australians annually. Importantly for those in the bush, 46 of these centres are located in rural and regional areas.

Headspace is a great example of Australian innovation in mental health services. Online mental health services like ReachOut.com are providing mobile apps and tools to help young people do things such as monitor their heartrate and their stress levels.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKenzie, a final supplementary question.



Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (14:48): Can the minister outline the coalition government's commitment to ensuring that headspace continues to deliver the mental health services that young Australians can rely on?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:48): The coalition government remains absolutely steadfast in its support for headspace as well as for youth mental health services more broadly.

During the election the government committed $20 million for an additional 10 headspace centres. This investment will bring the total number of headspace centres to 110 by 2019, with the aim of increasing service coverage, specifically in rural and regional areas. Again, it is something that I am very proud that this government has delivered. It will ensure that more young people can access youth-friendly mental health services when they need them.

The mental health reforms announced last year will make headspace services even more responsive to the needs of local communities.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator NASH: I can only guess from the interjections from those opposite that clearly they are well aware that they have not delivered these headspace centres; it is has been the coalition government that has.