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Thursday, 4 July 2019
Page: 360

Mental Health


Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (15:02): My question goes to the Minister for Health. Would the minister please outline to the House what this government is doing to address the tragedies in relation to youth suicide, mental health and eating disorders?


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet) (15:03): I want to thank the member for Fisher, who has been a passionate and tireless advocate for action on mental health, youth suicide, and in particular eating disorders. Born of his own familiar with this challenge, he has helped deliver the first national eating disorder centre, endED, which we're supporting with $6 million. But that has become a pilot for a network of eating disorder residential treatment facilities around the country.

We heard today from the member for Herbert and the member for Bass about their own challenges with mental health. We've heard the Prime Minister's words, and we've heard the Leader of the Opposition, in particular, in relation to youth suicide. Mental health and youth suicide are not the province of any one side of this parliament. Whether it's the government or the opposition or the crossbench, we all come together with our concerns.

We know the challenge: 404 young lives were lost, in the last full year for which we have figures, to their own hands, tragically. One in four young Australians suffer some form of mental health challenge in any one year. More broadly, over the course of our lives almost half of Australians will have some form of mental health challenge, whether it's anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia or so many other conditions. These things are of profound importance and, to take the Prime Minister's lead, they bring together this chamber, this parliament, our parties and all of those whom we represent.

On that front, I'm proud that we've been able to deliver a $500 million youth suicide prevention and mental health treatment package. This includes $375 million for headspace and, within that, in particular, there is $110 million to focus on early psychosis youth centres, $111 million to deliver an extra 30 headspace centres around the country and an extra $150 million to expand services for the existing headspace centres. But coupled with that is the absolute importance of building resilience and encouraging prevention. The Prime Minister invited me to join him and the member for Reid at Burwood Girls High School. There we had the great privilege of seeing batyr—a young group led by young people talking about the experiences and challenges that they had faced—give a sense of hope, inspiration and support to these young women that their lives could be something special, but they had to recognise that there was hope, there was the ability to reach out, and we could see the transformation on that day.

So, yes, we're supporting that, but this challenge brings this whole parliament together. We can save lives and protect lives, and we have to work towards zero.


Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the Opposition) (15:06): on indulgence—just briefly, we stand with the government on addressing this terrible scourge facing young people with regard to mental health issues, and I congratulate the government on a range of its initiative, including the increased funding for headspace.