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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3473 ..

that people get help before it becomes an acute crisis, they can continue important regular activities like work, study or caring for others, and people do not have to get worse before they get better. Access to the right types of services at the right time is essential to ensure that we can continue to support people’s mental health and wellbeing in the community.

As Minister for Mental Health, supporting community-based care is one of my most significant priorities. This mode of delivering mental health care ensures that hospital admissions are avoided as much as possible, in turn allowing our community to access support without having to leave their homes or their families. My goal for Canberra’s mental health system is that, as much as possible, we will catch people in the very early stages of mental ill-health or distress, before situations develop into crisis. Hospital care will always be available, and Canberra Health Services will continue to make this as therapeutic as possible. But caring for people in our community will always be the best long-term strategy for mental health and wellbeing.

This priority is the rationale behind the 2021-22 ongoing budget funding for CatholicCare and Parentline to deliver support to young people and families in the ACT. The ACT government will fund CatholicCare’s Youth and Wellbeing program, with $851,000 over four years, and Parentline ACT with $169,000 over four years—two important organisations that I am pleased to support.

CatholicCare and Parentline are two longstanding organisations that support different groups of people and different stages of mental health, yet both play an integral part in the ACT government’s goal to ensure early support for our community. The CatholicCare Youth and Wellbeing program supports young people aged 12 to 25 with complex needs. It offers a unique combination of case management and therapeutic intervention, to support young people to improve their mental health and recovery, with a holistic view of their lives.

The complexity of supporting young people with mental health issues was highlighted in the 66 recommendations provided by the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs inquiry into youth mental health in the ACT and the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing review of children and young people in the ACT.

Many of the young people engaged in the Youth and Wellbeing service have co-occurring issues such as alcohol and drug use, experiences of trauma or intellectual and cognitive disability. But through its focus on trauma-informed service delivery and working with young people’s strengths, Youth and Wellbeing is well placed to support these young people. The service addresses more than just clinical mental health concerns; it also supports relationships, housing, education and physical health—domains that play an important role in ensuring the longevity of mental health and wellbeing.

Parentline ACT is a phone counselling service that offers free telephone and face-to-face counselling, and phone “check-ins” with parents and carers. During the COVID-19 lockdown, calls to the service increased by 25 per cent due to the increased anxiety of parents and carers. Parentline’s service ensures that, at times of

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