Page 3693 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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Mental health services—multicultural communities

MR BRADDOCK: My question is to the Minister for Mental Health. Minister, following the tragic drownings at Yerrabi Pond, I would like to ask about the culturally and linguistically diverse communities, who are at increased risk of mental health concerns. How is the ACT government raising awareness of mental health in those communities and what available support services are there for those communities?

MS DAVIDSON: I thank Mr Braddock for the question. My heart goes out to the families and the community after what happened there. The ACT government supports a range of mental health services for people in our community and we are always working hard to improve our awareness of the ways in which we can make our services more accessible and meet the needs of our diverse community. That includes people from multicultural backgrounds. In fact more than a third of staff at Canberra Health Services are themselves from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Counselling, GP and other allied health services at ACT Women’s Health Service are there to support women who might otherwise miss out on being able to access services. This includes women from migrant and multicultural background who may experience trauma or violence and women on low incomes. Even if you do not have a Medicare card you can access advice and support from the ACT Women’s Health Service. Services like the Step Up Step Down residential care can also provide mental health support to people in our multicultural community. I note that 15 per cent of participants in the Garran Step Up Step Down service in 2021-22 identified as being from culturally and linguistically diverse background.

The Community Services Directorate and ACT Health also provide funding to community sector organisations for a range of supports that are specific to our multicultural community including Multicultural Hub and Companion House. Talking to a youth worker or a counsellor who understands your lived experience can make a huge difference to health outcomes. I first started referring people to counselling services at Companion House more than a quarter of a century ago when I was working in welfare services. I am very happy to see they are still such an important part of our community today and still supporting people through their transition into a healthy, happy life here in Canberra.

For parents, both mums and dads in our multicultural community, organisations like Parentline and multicultural playgroups are a great way to stay connected.

MR BRADDOCK: Minister, how can we help break down the stigma around talking about mental health within these communities?

MS DAVIDSON: Thank you for the question. Much of the work to reduce stigma and raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing in the multicultural community is thanks to the efforts of our wonderful community sector. I particularly want to thank the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum, the Australia Forum, MIEACT, SiTara’s Story, Multicultural Hub, Companion House and others for the ongoing work they do to engage people in our beautifully diverse community about

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