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Monday, 20 October 2014
Page: 11277


Mr TAYLOR (Hume) (11:23): I rise today to pay tribute to a great man—a community leader who by anyone's measure was an inspiration and a role model. He was a friend of mine. His name is Gavin Jones. He took his own life in July at his farm at Goulburn, just near mine, at the age of 47. Gavin was perhaps best known as the founder of the Deadly Vibe Group which published Deadly Vibe magazine and produced the Deadly Awards. The Deadlys started in Sydney two decades ago, celebrating achievement and excellence in the Indigenous community. I attended last year's event with Gavin. Great social entrepreneurs leave a legacy, and Gavin's legacy will loom large. He was able to lead and inspire others as few can. His simple, motivating idea—that we should celebrate Indigenous success—will live on well beyond his life. Gavin's name is added to the list of many others Australia has lost to suicide this year. While we can never understand what motivates someone to take their own life, it is always a tragedy. As this motion before the House asserts, over the past five years alone average suicide deaths a year in Australia have exceeded 2,400—an absolutely shocking number.

In the Goulburn area, in my electorate of Hume, suicide rates are disturbingly high, particularly amongst young people. Preventing further suicides is a goal motivating many local families, a number who have already lost loved ones to suicide. In 2003 a Goulburn suicide working group was formed to look at positive ways to address the issues and to target risk-taking behaviours. The group identified a range of ways to reduce the risks of further suicides: greater community education across the community—of course, suicide should not be a taboo subject; greater networking and information sharing between preventative agencies; and more readily available public information on suicide prevention as well as information to support families who are grieving. Research has shown that suicide and self-harm behaviour cuts across gender, race and socio-economic background. The Goulburn suicide working group identified that any genuine response needed a whole-of-community approach, collaborative work practices and government funding support.

Against this backdrop and after years of community campaigning, I was very proud to welcome the announcement last week of federal funding for a Headspace centre for Goulburn. Health Minister Peter Dutton announced that 15 new headspace centres will be established across Australia, including one at Goulburn, to provide mental-health services for young people aged 12 to 25. This will bring the total number of headspace centres in Australia to 100. Eleven of the new centres will be in regional Australia, recognising the special issues faced by rural and regional communities when it comes to youth depression and isolation. I feel great pride that we will be able to offer this for young people in Hume. It is not just for Goulburn—it is for the broader district. We held a celebratory morning tea at my office in Goulburn last Wednesday with tributes to the tireless efforts of many people who have campaigned for a headspace centre, including the late, great Trish Cunningham; Mayor Geoff Kettle; Simon Bennett from Anglicare and Jo Cunningham. Jo lost her own son, Hugo, to suicide in 2012. In hearing the headspace news, she said: 'You always have to find the positive out of something very, very negative, and that's what the community has done.' Thank you, Jo, for showing such courage and strength in seeing this through.

We still need the local community to keep pulling together to ensure the headspace centre is everything we want and expect. It will take the best part of two years for it to be up and running, but knowing it is coming is a great motivator. The headspace centre is a great outcome for Goulburn, but there is still a lot of work we can do in terms of broader community education. Three-quarters of all mental illness manifests itself in people under 25. The links between mental illness, depression and suicide are well known and well documented so, as a caring community, we have a duty to continue finding new and better ways to raise awareness about the risks of suicide. After the tragic event of someone taking their life it can sometimes be said, oftentimes in fact, that there were no signs anything was wrong—that there was nothing anyone could have done. As a caring community we need to look harder and we need to act sooner. I commend this motion to the House.