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Thursday, 2 December 2021
Page: 11427

Mr LLEW O'BRIEN (Wide BayDeputy Speaker) (10:28): I rise to talk about two of Wide Bay's constituents who are using two very different types of media to communicate their important message. My good mate, big farmer Andy, a TikTok celebrity, who is passionate about rural and regional mental health, is using the newest form of social media, and my other friend, author Laurie Pointing, uses one of the oldest forms of communication, the conventional book, to tell the stories of Queensland's frontline police officers.

Big farmer Andy writes: 'Suicide is a serious issue in Australia, with roughly 65,000 Australians attempting suicide each year. Of those 178 Australians attempting suicide each day, nine are successful in their attempt. We lose nine Australians a day to suicide, more than double the road toll. Rural and regional Australians are hit hardest. They're two times more likely to die by suicide than those living in the urban areas. Limited access to mental health professionals is an issue raised often.

'The stigma surrounding mental ill health and speaking up about it has a massive impact on curbing the massively disproportionate number of Australians taking their own lives in rural Australia. Terrible phone service and poor internet connection are synonymous with country living. With improved connections, those Australians living outside the urban areas may have better access to much-needed telehealth, psychological and psychiatric services. This could be a game changer.

'Including mental health awareness in our national curriculum may slowly bring about a culture change and disrupt mental illness stigma. Educating Australian youth on the symptoms of and treatment for depression, anxiety and PTSD may save countless Australian lives. We live in a great nation built on mateship. Let's build on those foundations and reduce Australian suicide rates.'

Whilst since 2016 the Liberal-National government has funded new builds and upgrades for 18 base stations around Wide Bay, big farmer Andy is right: a lot more needs to be done.

Then there's Laurie Pointing, a retired senior police officer who has recorded more than 40 stories of police work. He'll launch his fourth book tomorrow. Importantly, it recognises the last two Indigenous police trackers in the gulf. All book royalties will go to the Queensland Police Legacy fund to help widows and children of police officers who have lost their life in the line of duty. I also pay tribute to Laurie Pointing's other work in the community. He is one of Wide Bay's true champions and is always looking out for the welfare of his fellow citizens.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): I understand it is the wish of the Federation Chamber that constituency statements continue for a further 30 minutes.