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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1494 ..

At this time we particularly note the experience of people from the Indian community in the ACT and we recognise the need for particular targeted support. First and foremost, I encourage all people who are experiencing distress to reach out for assistance. Information on the mental health impact of COVID-19 and available supports is available on the ACT COVID website and translated information on the current situation and mental health is also available on the Beyond Blue website.

In Canberra we also have a range of services available to assist our multicultural community with mental health resilience in this difficult time. This includes the Multicultural Youth Services ACT drop-in service for young people, as well as mentoring services that may be valuable for people dealing with current events. The Support Asian Women’s Friendship Association Inc is a self-help group aimed at addressing isolation and fostering social connection. I encourage Indian women who are feeling isolated from their family or struggling with isolation related to their grief or experiencing distress to reach out for support. All affected members of the Indian community can also access mental health support through their GP to discuss support available to meet their specific circumstances.

Finally, anyone who needs immediate mental health support and assistance can call Access Mental Health at any hour on 1800-629-354. People have a right to an interpreter when using this service and, if you are experiencing escalating distress, I urge you to reach out.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated border closures and physical distance from loved ones is unprecedented. I extend my deepest sympathies to people separated from their families during this time. Fear, worry, stress and grief are normal responses to the tragedy that is occurring in India and in many parts of the world due to COVID-19.

I want to assure our community that it is understandable that people will be experiencing increased concerns about their mental health due to this tragedy. Although it is understandable, people do not have to deal with this alone. There are a wide range of supports available for those who want to reach out and talk and to those who might need immediate assistance. I strongly encourage our Indian community members to reach out to the services that are available. We are here for you.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.14): Our Indian and South Asian communities are so important to us here in the ACT. They are a growing and essential group within our community. They fulfill very important roles in our community and we value them greatly. It is my great privilege to call many of those Canberrans with Indian and South Asian heritage my friends and to work with them in my role as shadow minister for multicultural affairs.

I have dedicated, and continue to dedicate, my life to newer Australians—those from culturally diverse backgrounds. I see your struggle and I see your hard work. I see that you are a great part of our city, and your aspirations matter to me. I know how hard you have worked for Australian residency and citizenship, and I am here to serve you. As many already know and have experienced, I will continue to work for you and for our beloved city of opportunity, Canberra, in our nation of opportunity, Australia.

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