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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3058 ..


the most recent wave. When Sydney’s outbreak began, young people were told to “go out and get the jab” when there was no jab for them to get. Endemic cuts to the university sector and increasing casualisation of the workforce by the federal government have made job prospects for young people bleak as well.

Despite these huge challenges, unemployed young people have stood in solidarity with the rest of the community—staying at home, keeping their distance, wearing their masks and, now that they can, getting vaccinated. Young people have missed school, TAFE and university. Ensuring the safety of our youngest ones as they return to school is of the utmost importance, too.

There is no doubt that young people are facing a major existential crisis. The pandemic is highlighting intergenerational inequality and providing insight into the instability we will face as a result of a changing climate. The Australian Psychological Association recognises that climate change is the greatest health threat of the 21st century and has significant impacts on physical and mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. Research shows us that being involved in activism, organising and advocacy are protective factors against the mental health impacts of oppression, marginalisation and the social impacts of climate change.

I am extremely proud that earlier this year my motion was passed that supported young people’s access to democracy—specifically, their right to protest—and the involvement of the Legislative Assembly in the education of students in parliamentary democracy. I am proud to be a member of a party that has consistently advocated for the rights of young people to be involved in politics and the political process since our first term in this Assembly, including expanding the right to vote. My colleagues and I are continuing to work on this important policy, and I look forward to further discussions and reform in this space.

The major existential and life challenges I have just discussed take a significant toll on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Many life trajectories are strongly influenced by adolescence and young adulthood. Understanding the impact of the pandemic on young people’s wellbeing will be important long into the future. Anne Hollonds, the National Children’s Commissioner, has recently called for a national COVID recovery plan for children, and I encourage my colleagues to think about how the ACT government can centre children and young people in our recovery effort.

I was really pleased to read about the wellbeing approach that this government has taken to the budget and that the much-anticipated wellbeing indicators are beginning to be introduced in the budget this year. The 2021-22 budget includes an additional $57 million for mental health and community healthcare supports, including, specifically, $7.5 million to deliver a phased implementation of integrated face-to-face and digital mental health care for young people through an online platform delivered through the Moderated Online Social Therapy, or MOST, program developed by Orygen, a not-for-profit youth mental health advocacy and research institute run by former Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry. This budget also supports CatholicCare’s youth and wellbeing program to provide a


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