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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11660


Dr ALY (Cowan) (16:30): Today I and the member for Moore had the pleasure of hosting four students and two teachers from Alta-1 College in Western Australia. Alta-1 is an alternative care school that provides an opportunity for education for young people who, for various reasons, haven't been able to access or use the school system. Many of the students have mental health conditions, are homeless or are dealing with complex and difficult family situations. Today, four of these students got to speak directly to parliamentarians about their experiences with the youth mental health system. We heard about the gaps and challenges for young people accessing mental health services, and how a 17-year-old in Western Australia can't access services for youth up to the age of 16 or adults that start at the age of 18.

I thank Darryl and Hanna, their teachers and all the staff at Alta-1 for the wonderful work that they do for these young people. Apart from providing education outcomes, the school embraces a therapeutic model and course aimed at addressing the needs of young people with high-risk behaviours. The four students we met today—Taya, Genevieve, Matt and Jake—all spoke about how Alta-1 was a lifeline for them. Some of them had a history of self-harming and had not attended regular schooling for some time before finding out about Alta-1.

I thank my Labor colleagues who came along to meet these young people to let them know that we're listening to them. I also thank the member for Moore, Mr Ian Goodenough, for helping me bring these young people to Canberra. It's truly an example of bipartisanship that the public doesn't often get to see.