House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Questions without Notice

Mental Health

2:17 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. I note that today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Will the Prime Minister please update the House about how the Morrison government is investing in improving the mental health of Australians and suicide prevention?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Berowra for his question and together with the member for Eden-Monaro for the work they do as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Suicide Prevention. I thank the member for Berowra for his incredible strength and leadership on this issue in this place.

Speaking at the breakfast this morning, I had the sad duty to inform those who were there of a letter I recently received from a mum in Western Sydney. I had attended with Jenny the wedding of a friend. At that wedding we'd had a photo together with her and her husband and her three children. At the front of that photo was this bright, beaming young boy, Luke, who is yet another young Australian who has taken his own life in the last 12 months. This is a curse on our country. It's a curse that, together, all of us in this place I think are absolutely determined to break. I want to thank all of those in this House for the support they give to the very worthy goal we have of a towards-zero initiative on youth suicide and on suicide more generally.

More than 3,000 Australians took their lives in 2017. We have invested some $503 million in the youth mental health and suicide prevention plan. That is the largest suicide prevention plan that any government has ever put into practice: $375 million to expand and improve frontline headspace services; 20 new headspace sites for rural and regional Australia; new mental health telehealth services funded through the Medicare Benefits Schedule; $12 million to specifically support parents and their children, including helping parents recognise when their children are struggling; the funding of new mental health support services through our community health and hospitals program; and strengthening Indigenous youth suicide prevention efforts, backed with some $19.6 million to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, particularly in the Kimberley, and $22½ million in youth and Indigenous health research projects as part of the million minds mission.

These projects also include almost $3 million in funding for a wonderful organisation called batyr, whose work the member for Reid, the health minister and I had the privilege of seeing in action. It's absolutely extraordinary stuff. We were at Burwood Girls High School together as part of that workshop. That reached 171,000 young people. We've appointed Christine Morgan as the National Suicide Prevention Advisor. She's got a huge job to do and she's going to need all of our support to do it as she works right across government and works with state and territory leaders and their administrations. But, most importantly on World Suicide Prevention Day, we must tell Australians that, if you are feeling the strain, if you're feeling the stress, if you're battling with mental illness, if you think there are things that you can't overcome, you are not alone. There is an Australian who is there to help you, an Australian who will reach out to you and seek to support you. And, of course, I implore anyone in that circumstance, experiencing that distress, to get in contact with Lifeline—on 13 11 14—and other frontline service providers, and I thank all of them for the amazing work they do to help their fellow Australians.

2:20 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

On indulgence—I associate Labor with all of the comments of the Prime Minister on this very important day. And I say that we support all of the government's initiatives in this regard and stand ready to support in a bipartisan way any further initiatives that are needed to rid this scourge from our society.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!