Mental Health

08 November 2016

As a nation, we are starting to talk a lot more about mental health and mental health

wellbeing. Over time, I want to play my part as a member of the House of Representatives to reduce the stigma

associated with mental health issues. Around 3.6 million Australians are living with a mental illness, 600,000

children have been affected by a significant mental health problem, and, sadly, 3,027 Australians died by suicide

in 2015, including dozens in my electorate of Oxley and with a 20 per cent increase in my electorate in the year


On this side of the chamber, Labor knows mental health needs to be a national priority. Two weeks ago today, I

was pleased to host Labor's shadow assistant minister for mental health, Senator Deborah O'Neill, at a community

mental health forum in my electorate of Oxley, at the Goodna Salvation Army. I acknowledge the work of Senator

O'Neill and our hardworking shadow minister Julie Collins, who is doing a great job advocating in a policy space

where we need to see more from the government.

The forum was attended by local community service providers in my electorate, and I pay tribute to John Williams

and his team at the Goodna Salvos for their hospitality, and to Michael Anglin, who took Senator O'Neill and

me on a tour of the Salvos' legal centre. I am told that on an annual basis they look after 1,000 clients a year

and provide free legal advice to them.

But one of the things that struck me about the forum was how collegiate our local community service providers

are in Oxley. People like Cassie from the Gailes Community House spoke about the possibility of local service

providers sharing space. We then met with the directors of headspace—I met with Amy, Courtney and Katherine.

Of course, it is great to see the good work of headspace being undertaken not just in my electorate but right across

the nation. Then we visited the Inala Community Health Centre, where I met with some of the most dedicated

people involved with providing quality health care to those people who need it the most.

Prior to the election, we heard a lot from the Prime Minister about mental health in Australia, but we know there

has been no mental health plan for the past three years. Now the fourth one is expiring and the fifth is still in

draft form.

The government cut $140 million from mental health programs in the last Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal

Outlook, cut funding to headspace's early psychosis centre by 25 per cent on 1 July this year—and will cut a

further 70 per cent next year—and failed to adopt a suicide prevention target as recommended by the National

Mental Health Commission. I say this is not good enough. We need to do more, and we need to tackle the issue of

mental health. The Prime Minister says he is passionate about mental health and suicide prevention, but, Prime

Minister, my words are very clear: actions speak louder than words.