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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8489


Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (12:10): I will start my contribution to this motion on mental health by noting some of the statistics on mental health. They are both confronting and, as the member for Mayo just said, heartbreaking. It is important for the House to recognise that we have a national problem. The government deserves congratulations for the steps it has taken thus far, but it is taking a short-term approach that lacks a clear vision.

Around four million Australians aged 16 to 85 experience mental ill health, which represents about 20 per cent of adults, or one in five Australians. In addition, around 600,000 children and youths between the ages of four and 17 are affected by mental ill health. I note that, when I held a youth forum in my office recently, mental health was one of the biggest issues raised by those young Territorians. Incredibly, in the lucky country, our magnificent country, Australia, there are around 65,000 suicide attempts each year. That is almost 180 people a day. That is a cause for national shame. The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that in 2016 suicide was the leading cause of death among all people aged 15 to 44 and the third-leading cause of death among those aged 45 to 54. Suicide continues to impact Indigenous communities disproportionately, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people twice as likely to die by suicide as non-Indigenous people. That is a statistic that adds to our national shame in relation to mental health. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the 15-to-17-year age group have a suicide rate more than five times as high as their non-Indigenous peers. Unfortunately, in the Top End, in the community I represent, we have had a spate of youth suicides recently. That is why we are continuing to consult with the community in particular and to work with the trial site to ensure that we can do something about this national shame.

At the 2016 election, Labor's mental health policy had a strong focus on suicide prevention. It included adopting the National Mental Health Commission's recommendation to reduce suicide by over 50 per cent over 10 years. The health and welfare of our veterans remains a priority area for Labor and for me personally. We support the National Mental Health Commission's review into mental health services for our veterans, and we supported the establishment of the Senate inquiry into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel.

I congratulate the government for adopting Labor's policy to roll out 12 suicide prevention trial sites across the country. I recently visited the Jamie Larcombe Centre in Adelaide and spoke with a number of mental health professionals and research professionals. I acknowledge Paul Flynn from the Hospital Research Foundation and Karen May from the PTSD centre of excellence, and also Mark Reidy, himself a veteran, for the great work that he is doing not only with Invictus but with local veterans in Adelaide and from around the country through The Road Home. Whilst in Adelaide I met with the incoming CEO of Soldier On. With Soldier On and the support of those others, we will establish in Darwin a facility to support our veterans and first responders as they struggle with issues to do with mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

I'm passionate about veterans' mental health but, as federal Labor's men's health ambassador, I also know how significant the issue of men's mental health is. It's an incredibly important issue for men to discuss, as men's health outcomes tend to be worse and, as we know, blokes don't tend to communicate as much about how they're feeling, so we've got a lot of work ahead of us. We need to do more to educate ourselves—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 12 : 15 to 12 : 29