Page 716 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022

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In response, the ACT government will develop a youth at risk program to deliver a territory-wide multidisciplinary response to trauma and fully coordinated responses to young people at risk of developing enduring mental illness. The service will support young people facing different challenges within our community as early as possible to ensure they are provided with the skills, care and support required to enable them to grow, learn and lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.

A key element of this program is an evidence-guided therapeutic approach that delivers integrated care through a new adolescent trauma service. The service will build sector partnerships and enhance flexible outreach. It will be delivered by multidisciplinary clinicians and engagement teams in both government and non-government agencies, in partnership with young people, carers and families.

I would also like to provide some additional information about the $6 million investment under this bilateral agreement in universal aftercare services in the ACT to support people following a suicide attempt or experiencing a suicidal crisis. We know that the largest single factor indicating future suicide risk is a previous attempt, and we know that the loss of life to suicide has devastating impacts throughout our community.

The ACT government established the Way Back Aftercare Service in 2016 and have increased funding to the service over recent years in response to increasing referrals to the service. Despite this additional investment, referral demand continues to grow beyond service capacity. This investment will enable the service to be made available to more people who need it and will expand the service to provide assistance at an earlier stage for people who are experiencing a suicidal crisis or suicidal ideation.

This bilateral agreement investment reflects ACT government commitments to support our community when people are experiencing crisis, and is in addition to the ACT government’s investment in the last budget for a culturally appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention program to deliver community-based suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and aftercare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.

This service is currently being commissioned by ACT Health and will be designed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I would like to thank our public servants who have worked so hard on this agreement and have done such a good job for the ACT community.

The ACT government has been able to secure this funding for vital services, delivered across the government and community sectors, that we know from a strong evidence base will meet existing and emerging needs. This has been possible because of the years of research, policy development and relationships built across directorates, clinical services and NGOs by the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

In acknowledging the work of the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, I would also like to acknowledge the foresight of my colleague Minister Rattenbury, the former Minister for Mental Health, in establishing the office. We can see now that this decision is paying dividends.

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