House debates

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Constituency Statements

Petition: Mental Health

9:30 am

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise this morning to pay tribute to a local champion of mental health services in her area, Ms Karly Cousins, and to speak more broadly on the very important issue of mental health. I do so with a sense of optimism. It is true that mental illness can have tragic and life-changing consequences. Many of us know of people in our network of family and friends who have been touched in some way by mental illness, but we do know that with the right support and early interventions many people with mental illness will go on to lead a rich and fulfilling life.

Reflecting on my time in this House over the past 12 years, there have been remarkable developments in how we as a nation have tackled the issue, with the rightful ebbing away of stigma and a determined effort to escalate the issue as a policy priority as a result of efforts by all sides of the political divide. Many local campaigners and my colleagues in this place have spoken publicly and courageously of their own experiences. It takes a lot of courage to open up to a stranger about a tragedy in your own family, about your desperate concern for a loved one or indeed about your own struggles, but many individuals around the country have shared these with me and, I am sure, with other members of parliament to try to improve the situation for others.

There is of course, though, still so much more that needs to be done in many communities. I have been inspired on this issue by a number of my own constituents in the electorate of Dickson and that has strengthened my resolve to continue to improve front-line services. The experience and needs of the constituents were pivotal to the $1.5 billion policy I was able to announce prior to the last election in my role as shadow health minister. Today I would like to pay tribute to a local champion further afield. Karly Cousins has been tireless in her efforts for increased mental health services, particularly after-hours services, on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. I had the great fortune of meeting Karly and her wonderful young family at a forum with the member for Mayo, Mr Jamie Briggs. She had an important story to tell and is determined to make a difference. The community is very fortunate to have someone with her commitment to such a worthy cause. Karly has presented me with a petition of some 5,793 signatures. It is being considered by the Standing Committee on Petitions and is certified as being in accordance with the standing orders.

I am particularly pleased to commend Karly on her extraordinary efforts. She is a young lady who has gone through an enormous amount of personal pain for her family. She has risen above that not only for the benefit of her own situation but for the benefit of the local community. She is a remarkable young person. I am very pleased to table the petition and to commend Karly on her extraordinary efforts.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of concerned Fleurieu Peninsula residents and, certain citizens of Australia, draw the attention of the House to the prevalence of suicide and the lack of mental health services on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.

This petition is a continuation of the Facebook group 'Petition for Mental Health Services on the South Coast', which has received overwhelming support from the local community.

We therefore ask the House to reassess existing mental health services on the Fleurieu Peninsula and increase funding for mental health services and their accessibility on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

from 5,793 citizens

Petition received.