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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 14 September 2017) . . Page.. 3764 ..

community and as individuals we can all make a difference with these deceptively simple words, “Are you okay?”

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (4.24): I too rise to speak about R U OK? On 30 August I was delighted, with Bec Cody, to welcome the R U OK? conversation convoy to Government House, with His Excellency Peter Cosgrove, the Governor-General and community representatives, including representatives of ACT schools. The convoy was raising awareness of the importance of R U OK? Day, which is today. R U OK? is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2009 which encourages everyone to invest more time in giving the people around them the skills, motivation and confidence to start a conversation about anyone that they might be worried about.

The R U OK? “convo convoy” has been travelling across the country to raise awareness about suicide prevention, starting at Uluru on 1 August and travelling 14,000 kilometres around Australia. By the time the convoy reached Cairns today, marking R U OK? Day, they would have visited 20 communities across Australia. The theme of this tour around Australia was to promote the four steps to an R U OK? conversation—ask, listen, encourage and check in—as well as to address the problem of social isolation and how it is one of the key factors for suicide.

The conversation convoy leads up to other important social events, such as World Suicide Prevention Day, which took place on 10 September, and Mental Health Week in October, aimed at promoting the message that there are better outcomes when all stakeholders work together in addressing mental health concerns.

While R U OK? is not an organisation funded by the ACT government, mental health and suicide prevention are also continued priorities for the ACT government, as demonstrated by the establishment of the portfolio of the Minister for Mental Health. Within this portfolio are strategies focused on setting targets for suicide reduction and providing more support for our young people in particular. In the budget I was very pleased to see the $2.9 million that has been invested in the soon to be established new office for mental health, which will, in addition to ACT Health, mental health, justice health, and alcohol and drug services, provide mental health services for those that work with people experiencing moderate to severe mental health problems, including suicide issues.

The ACT government supports the importance of mental health services in Canberra and promoting suicide prevention initiatives for young people and other members of the community. The R U OK? organisation is one of the most recognisable initiatives across the country. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to the R U OK? convoy participants and CEO Brendan Maher on a fantastic journey. I encourage the Canberra community to take time on R U OK? Day to learn the four steps to an R U OK? conversation and support your friends and relatives.

Small business—Kingston shops

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (4.27): I am sure that you will agree with me that our local shops are a site of community, convenience and day-to-day living for many

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