House debates

Monday, 2 May 2016


Grey Electorate: Mental Health

9:14 pm

Photo of Rowan RamseyRowan Ramsey (Grey, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to inform the House about progress in Whyalla to establish a headspace or headspace-like unit to assist the younger people in the community with issues with their mental health. Headspace was established in Australia under the Howard government. It was expanded under Labor and grown again under the coalition, when this government committed to creating 100 units around the nation. A unit was established in Port Augusta in 2013, and it was hoped at that stage that the Port Augusta headspace unit might become a bit of a hub in a hub-and-spoke model and be able to stretch out its services in some form to Port Pirie and Whyalla, which are both within 100 kilometres of Port Augusta.

It has been pretty successful: 638 young people have accessed direct services at Port Augusta, with a number coming from Whyalla. Whyalla of course has been in the news a lot lately. I will not go into all the issues with the steel industry tonight, but suffice to say that there is an extreme lack of confidence in the community. Retail is shrinking because people are unsure of their future, and that probably affects our younger people more than the older, more established people in our community, given that they may live in households where finances are tight, mum and dad are concerned about their future, perhaps it might be that they are looking for jobs and those jobs are not available. They might be contemplating travel. All those issues compound and contribute to people's peace of mind in the first place.

In an effort to make some ground in this area, given that the government had committed to 100 units and those places are established around Australia, I think I can make a very good argument that communities like Port Lincoln, with 14,000 people, Port Pirie, with 14,000 people, and certainly Whyalla, with 22,000 people would be very appropriate places for headspace units or at least smaller versions of them. I asked Mr Chris Tanti, the headspace CEO to come to Whyalla. We had a meeting there with council representatives, people from the education system and people from various counselling services to discuss the possibility of getting this type of facility off the ground in Whyalla. He was pretty encouraging, but gave the indication that it was unlikely that we would be able to stretch the Port Augusta unit down to Whyalla. Following that meeting I approached the Primary Health Network CEO, Mr Kim Hosking. He too committed to come to Whyalla. We had a very fruitful meeting about three weeks ago, where he indicated that the Primary Health Network had the ability to make some financial contribution to at least establishing a part-time unit in Whyalla. The representatives from the Whyalla council indicated that they were very keen to assist with that establishment, as have been the people from the University of South Australia. I thank Lee Martinez and Clare McLaughlin for their contributions in bringing those organisations to the table. I was speaking to Lee Martinez this afternoon, and the university is open to the idea of perhaps establishing on-site. The council is open to the idea finding a facility within Whyalla that would be appropriate for such a unit. The issue we are grappling with at the moment is where is the most appropriate place in Whyalla to place the facility, but we will move forward on this.

I thank those people who have thrown their shoulder to the wheel and are prepared to assist me and others in getting this type of unit off the ground in Whyalla, because it is a very pressing issue. We have a number of people who are already travelling the 85 kilometres up to Port Augusta to access the unit. That can be okay if you have a car and you have money to fuel in the car or your parents have money to take you to Port Augusta. Of course if you don't—if your parents don't have a job or they have a car not good enough to drive that far or there is no fuel for it or whatever—that means you miss out entirely. They really is just not good enough. We have to bring this service closer to where the demand is. I will be working very hard over the coming months to try to bring about that occurrence