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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3053 ..

addition to the delivery in September of a $3.6 million community and mental health support package, including youth mental health, of which there was an additional $200,000 specifically for eating disorders. As well, we secured an additional $2.5 million from the commonwealth government, with a significant portion of this to be targeted at young people’s mental health, including eating disorders, through Headspace.

As mental health minister, I have been proud to deliver these funding announcements over the last few weeks, and I thank my colleagues for agreeing to support mental health services amongst wider pressure on the health system. The ACT government has responded to both the physical and mental health needs of Canberrans during the pandemic.

The ACT government is working closely with the commonwealth and other states and territories to negotiate a national mental health and suicide prevention agreement. This agreement will play an important role in guiding the commitment, investment and development of mental health services across the country. It is intended that this agreement will be finalised towards the end of this year.

The ACT government is taking this opportunity to prioritise initiatives based on local needs and demand, with youth mental health and wellbeing as a key focus. The mental health workforce is a key issue within system planning, and we know that workforce strength and availability influences the mental health and wellbeing of our community.

The ACT government is working with the commonwealth and other jurisdictions to finalise the national mental health workforce strategy, which was recently the subject of a public consultation process. This strategy will be finalised before the end of the year. The ACT government will consider progressing a local strategy once the national strategy has been finalised, to ensure that priorities are aligned.

In addition to Mr Pettersson’s recognition of the mental health of young people, I also welcome the focus on the mental health of frontline workers, who have been so important in delivering essential health and disability, transport, retail, cleaning and hospitality services to our community during lockdown.

The ACT government recognises that it is critical to support these people who have directly supported the Canberra community for so long. This includes through increased mental health support via funding for organisations directly assisting frontline and essential workers.

In the recent community and mental health support package, I was glad to announce funding for Mental Illness Education ACT, who have been running free online sessions for workers, including on managing and responding to stress and trauma awareness; OzHelp, who work with employers in building and construction to improve mental health and wellbeing in workers and apprentices; and Mental Health First Aid Australia, to deliver their online self-paced program to up to 72 business owners, managers or team leaders.

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