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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14634

Mental Health


Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Health, in relation to mental health. Will the minister please outline to the House how a stronger economy enables the government to invest in the single largest package ever to support the mental health of young Australians?


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health) (14:52): I want to thank the member for Petrie for his question and his advocacy for strong action on mental health and, in particular, youth suicide prevention. As every MP in this place knows, each of us has experienced mental health issues and the challenges surrounding that in our own lives and in our roles as MPs.

One of the first things that I did—and it was a very heavy weight—on coming into this role was to go with the great Professor Patrick McGorry to Grafton, in the seat of Page, where there had been a tragic, agonising, youth suicide cluster and to meet with parents who had been affected by this most catastrophic of circumstances. We committed a headspace to Grafton, and the information that we have is that since that time there's been a dramatic turnaround in health outcomes. There have been, to the best of my knowledge, no reported youth suicides in that town since. What that says to us is that real action on the ground can make a difference. It's a universal truth that's respected across all sides of this House.

In this budget, we have committed $736 million to mental health and, in particular, $461 million to mental health and youth suicide prevention. At the heart of it is $375 million for expanding the role, the space and the number of facilities that are associated and delivered through headspace across Australia—an extra 30 new headspace facilities. These will be critical in helping to save lives and protect lives and to give young people hope. There is expanded funding to ensure reduced waiting times in headspaces; $110 million to ensure that there is funding and support for youth psychoses, action for those who are suffering from critical situations; $15 million for a national suicide prevention database to look for trends such as were occurring in Grafton and to take early and immediate action; and then, of course, $15 million for direct intervention in Indigenous communities, which have been going through a particular agony, over and above everybody else, in recent times.

All of this is twinned with what we're doing in the broader community with mental health: a $275 million package on top of what we're doing with youth. For the first time, there will be a network of adult mental health centres dedicated to the needs of adults, not just youth. And for the first time there will be a network of eating disorder clinics for allowing residential treatment. Many people have fought for these things. It could never have been possible without a strong economy—without the ability to deliver these services. As I said before, we do this because we have a strong economy, but it is why we need a strong economy. This is why we do what we do.