Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 1 December 2022) . . Page.. 4148 ..
MOST remove barriers for young people who feel comfortable getting help online, I think we can do more for young people who prefer to talking to a person in real life.
This is where headspace comes in. At headspace the health of young people can be addressed holistically. This is because a range of services are offered in one place; mental health, sexual health, work, study, alcohol, drug and general practitioner doctor services. It is a one-stop-shop to help young people get on top of the things in their lives which might be exacerbating their poor mental health. Unfortunately, here in the ACT there are only two headspace locations, one in the city and one in Tuggeranong. I have heard from many young people in my electorate who cannot get the help they need because they must travel so far to access headspace’s services. For those who do not have a drivers license, money for public transport, or a guardian to drive them around, this is a massive barrier.
The non-headspace services that do exist in Gungahlin suffer from waitlists, which is an issue that has been compounded by the national shortage of mental health practitioners. Even if you are not a young person, you will probably struggle to get an appointment with a mental health specialist within a couple of months. I have heard from many constituents who complain they travel all the way to Sydney or regional New South Wales to get the help they desperately need. This is where the ACT mental health workforce strategy comes in, attempting to support a highly skilled and diverse mental health workforce that can meet the needs of the community. Given the complexity of this issue in the ACT, I would like to see an analysis of how our strategy interplays with the National mental health workforce strategy and compares to other jurisdictions. Both Victoria and New South Wales have similar strategies to address mental health practitioner workforce shortages but they seem to be more substantial compared to the ACT’s version. To solve this problem we need a comprehensive strategy that is accompanied by appropriate funding and resourcing. Although our strategy has noble intentions I think there is an opportunity here to develop it further so we can see a tangible increase in practitioner numbers in the ACT.
We know there is a high prevalence of mental illnesses in Gungahlin’s young people. They are struggling to access the help they need. This is not good enough and we need to make a concerted effort to fill this missing middle. That is why today I am calling on the ACT government to advocate for the federal government to fund a headspace located in Gungahlin. Bringing these services directly to young people is a sensible measure. I have no doubt we all experienced tough times when we were young.
In closing I implore each of you, all members of this place, to imagine the world of difference that the supports offered by headspace could have made for you when you were growing up. Whether you were just struggling with your homework or schoolwork or had a diagnosed mental illness you would have been supported. The young people in my electorate are desperate for help. Today, let us take action to give them what they need. Let us get a headspace in Gungahlin. In closing, I would like to thank in advance all members for contributing to this debate.
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (3.11): I thank Mr Pettersson for