Monday, 20 March 2023
Private Members' Business
Bert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) yourtown has been providing vital services for young people across Australia since 1961, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing, long-term unemployment, prevention of youth suicide, child protection, as well as support for those experiencing domestic and family violence;
(b) for over 30 years yourtown has been providing free professional counselling and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for children and young people aged five to 25 in Australia, through its Kids Helpline service;
(c) Kids Helpline is the critical safety net for children and young people needing mental health support and is often the only mental health service available after hours, or for those living in rural and remote areas;
(d) Kids Helpline's provision of professional, free counselling support ensures equality for all children and young people, regardless of their location or circumstances; and
(e) in the 2021-22 financial year, Kids Helpline was contacted directly by over 443,000 children and young people from across Australia, with millions more using resources and content across multiple channels;
(2) recognises that:
(a) the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated communication and social issues for young people;
(b) Kids Helpline experienced a significant surge in calls for support during lockdowns;
(c) for the first time in its over 30-year history, more than 50 per cent of callers now require counselling, when previously they were referred on to external supports; and
(d) demand for Kids Helpline service remains high and now exceeds capacity; and
(3) calls on:
(a) all Members of Parliament to continue to raise awareness of the important services available to young people through Kids Helpline 24/7, by calling 1800 55 1800 or online through kidshelpline.com.au; and
(b) the Government to support further growth in Kids Helpline's services, in order to meet the ever increasing demand for support.
One of the great organisations in our community is yourtown, an organisation which, since 1961, has been helping young people realise they have the ability to tackle whatever life throws at them. With services including Kids Helpline, Parentline, domestic and family violence support, mental health support and employment support, yourtown understands that every young person in Australia deserves a safe place to be, where they are respected and free to be themselves without judgement.
In particular, yourtown has been providing free professional counselling and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for children and young people aged five to 25 in Australia through its Kids Helpline service since its inception in 1991. Kids Helpline's provision of professional and free counselling support ensures equality for all children and young people regardless of their location or their circumstances. In fact, Kids Helpline is the only service of its kind in Australia which is free to all children and young people. They describe themselves as being the national wellbeing and mental health safety net for children and young people, which I find quite an apt description. This statement is further cemented when you delve into their facts and figures.
Over its 32-year history, Kids Helpline has responded to over 8.6 million calls from children and young people. Unfortunately, as I'm sure we all know in this place, these calls have only increased in frequency over recent years. Lockdowns over the past few years have exacerbated communication and social issues for young people. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of young Australians is evident through the increased demand for support, with Kids Helpline experiencing a significant surge in calls. In the 2021-22 financial year, over 443,000 contacts were made with Kids Helpline. Every 71 seconds, a young person reaches out to Kids Helpline for support. Sadly, just one in three calls can be answered. More than 50 per cent of these callers now require counselling, when they were previously referred on to external supports. This is first-time counselling calls that have been the predominant form of calling throughout Kids Helpline's entire history—an astonishing statistic.
As with many other health and wellbeing networks, Kids Helpline has established a number of virtual assistance resources which include not only their counselling and crisis support services and ongoing case management but, importantly, peer-to-peer support, early intervention sessions with schools, self-help resources through their website and the 'niggle' app. These online resources have proved to be invaluable, particularly as a result of the pandemic. Yourtown CEO Tracy Adams and her team have clearly made and continue to make incredible progress in addressing the mental health needs of children and young people who contact Kids Helpline in trying circumstances. However, to meet this demand and the expected increases in the future, yourtown needs further support.
The previous coalition government provided $26.8 million to Kids Helpline in 2021, including an immediate $2.8 million to deal with the impacts of the pandemic as part of our broader commitment to mental health. Since then, demand for this service has continued to rise. That is why today I'm calling on the federal government to step up and assist yourtown in supporting the further growth of the Kids Helpline services in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for support. Such a commitment is vital to ensuring that children and young people have someone to support them in times of deep stress. With calls at record highs, there are still too many young people who are unaware of the services Kids Helpline provides and who are, sadly, missing out on highly beneficial help and guidance.
I want to encourage all members and senators in this parliament to continue to raise awareness of the important services available to young people 24/7 through Kids Helpline. They can reach the service by calling 1800 551 800 or online at kidshelpline.com.au. For everyone watching or listening, I encourage you all to donate and assist yourtown in their fundraising efforts. You can do so by visiting yourtown.com.au. Thank you to everyone at Kids Helpline for the tremendous work you do for our community.
Terry Young (Longman, Liberal National Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
Is there a seconder for the motion?
Melissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
Mike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I'd like to thank the member for Forde for bringing this motion to the House. It's a very important issue and one that I think we need to highlight much more than we have in the last few years. As a paediatrician I've seen many patients struggle with mental health and I've seen the impact this has had not only on them but on their families. The pandemic certainly increased the number of presentations of even quite young children with mental health issues, and I'm not sure that we really have the answers to deal with that. I think there's still a lot of anxiety in the paediatric population about their world, not just because of the pandemic.
I think the social determinants of health are incredibly important in this. I continue to see children who are homeless or have unstable living conditions, and I'm not convinced that any of the policies that have been presented by the major parties have the answer to our housing difficulties. Imagine a child—even a relatively young child—who has to move house all the time. When they move house, often they also have to move school. If they have learning problems, other learning issues or health issues, they have to re-establish those links in their school, maybe even with a new doctor, a new paediatrician and a new hospital. It just adds to the stress these kids are facing.
The Kids Helpline has been a really great service over many years—for over 30 years, in fact—providing some support to those kids. It's open 24 hours a day. The counsellors are very well trained and usually tertiary qualified. Many young people and many families turn to Kids Helpline for assistance. Sometimes it's for advice about how to manage their kids. Sometimes for the kids themselves it's about having an independent person they can talk to about their feelings, issues they're having at school or issues they may be worried about in their own families. I'd certainly like to thank the Kids Helpline counsellors and our other mental health teams in my local area of Macarthur, like the Macarthur Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Lifeline Macarthur and a whole range of different services that are providing support to our kids. But I stress that there are many important issues we need to address if we are going to support our kids.
I'm distressed by the difficulties our public school system is having in accessing help for kids with learning problems. That has been an ongoing issue over many years. It's reflected, unfortunately, in the postcode data and in the private and public school data for the most recent HSC. Overwhelmingly, kids in wealthier areas or kids who go to private schools have, as a cohort, average better results than those in the public school system, particularly in more disadvantaged areas. That is wrong. It is inequitable, and we have to change it. I see time and time again kids without any knowledge of where they'll be sleeping in the next week, I see parents with drug and alcohol problems unable to access rehabilitation and support for themselves, and it really is difficult for schools to support these kids in those sorts of unstable environments.
The social determinants of health are incredibly important. We must fund the Kids Helpline. The Albanese government has also recently developed the concept of kids hubs around multiple different areas, particularly disadvantaged areas, which will provide ongoing mental health and wellbeing services for children between the ages of zero and 12 years and for their families. These hubs will operate as secondary-level child mental health support and they will help. Additionally, I welcome the announcement made last month by the Minister for Education that $203 million will be provided for the Student Wellbeing Boost, $192 million of which will be provided in funding to every school to support their students' mental health and wellbeing, with schools on average receiving over $20,000 for the 2023 education year. There is also $10.8 million that will be provided for launching a mental health check tool to help schools ensure students whom they are concerned about get the support they need.
But I would stress once again at the end of my speech that it's those social determinants of health that are really important, and I don't believe that, at this stage, either the coalition or the Labor government is adequately addressing those issues.
Melissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I thank the member for Forde for his motion. I know how deeply he cares about the community in Queensland that he serves, in particular the young people, by bringing this motion to the House today. Vital services for young people like Kids Helpline really do matter, especially as we combat a mental health crisis in this country. As the shadow assistant minister for mental health and suicide prevention, I acutely feel a responsibility to address this crisis when I see the challenges that our local community faces, in particular our young people. I see the impact of lockdowns and of not being able to attend schools. A once-in-a-century pandemic has taken away loved ones, separated families and dramatically shaped the formative years of students. Western Sydney also battled floods and fires and had livelihoods washed away. The trauma is left behind and does linger. There have been cost-of-living pressures as well, and these are being faced by our young people.
Whilst engaging with mental health and suicide prevention stakeholders, I've been quite troubled by the struggles that young Australians are facing today. In the 2021-22 financial year, Kids Helpline was contacted directly by over 443,000 children and young people aged between five and 25 from across Australia, with millions more using resources and content across multiple channels. It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated social issues for young people, and psychologists that I've spoken with have warned that a tsunami is on the horizon, as it takes years for the mental health impacts of big events to start coming through. For the first time in its over-30-year history, more than half of callers now require counselling, where previously they were referred on to external supports. These statistics marry up with the sense we all have that the times we live in are much more difficult. Each hardship varies and each story is different, but each person is also different, and any one of us who has been in an electorate office knows that the people who present through the doors are often dealing with quite significant issues, and more and more I'm seeing people present through my election office in Penrith with mental health issues, or having a loved one experiencing this. There are huge workforce issues that begin with the education and training pipeline and flow through to the distribution and retention of the workforce across our population, including inner and outer metro areas, such as those in Western Sydney, and most definitely in regional communities.
We all have a collective responsibility to do more to ease that burden that's being faced in particular by young kids right now not only by paving an easier path to accessing support but also by making sure that the support is available for those who need it. We will, unfortunately, never truly know the full social cost of mental illness, but we do know to some extent the economic costs of poor mental health. The Impact Economics and Policy report commissioned by NSW Council of Social Service looked at the compounding impacts of repeated natural disasters and the pandemic on the mental health of the population. The report found that rates of depression and anxiety had increased in recent years, with young people some of the worst affected. This includes an almost 50 per cent increase, from 2018 to 2021, in the number of teenage girls presenting for self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
For those privileged to serve in positions of leadership, I invite all of us to ask what can we do to address this very important issue that is not going away; it is only growing, especially for those without the proper support networks that many of us have. I call upon all members of parliament to continue to raise awareness of the important services available to young people through the Kids Helpline 24/7 by calling 1800551800 or online through kidshelpline.com.au. I also call on the Albanese government to support further growth in the Kids Helpline services to meet the sad, ever-increasing demand for support being experienced by children right across our country.
Dan Repacholi (Hunter, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
Mental health is one of the defining challenges of our generation and it is an issue that we are seeing is common among our young people. Over 75 per cent of mental health problems occur before the age of 25; 13.9 per cent of children and young people aged four to 17 years met the criteria for diagnosis of a mental disorder in the last 12 months; and, sadly, suicide continues to be the leading cause of death amongst young people. These statistics show that we have a long way to go in this country when it comes to protecting the mental health of young people. They've demonstrated why it's so important, especially in the modern day, that our young people have support services available to them to go to when they need them most.
Unfortunately, in the Hunter there is a serious lack of any support services for young people who are struggling with their mental health issues. And the limited services that we have are inadequate and find it difficult to keep up with the demand. The issue of lack of physical support services is even more severe in the more rural areas of the Hunter like Singleton, Muswellbrook and Denman. This makes services like the Kids Helpline absolutely vital. Yourtown, through the Kids Helpline, has been providing free professional counselling and support 24/7 for children and young people aged five to 25 in Australia for 30 years. This free and accessible service is absolutely invaluable in electorates like mine where young people who need the support are experiencing a lack of face-to-face services in their area.
Yourtown is a long-running organisation in Australia which has been providing critical services for young people. They not only to deal with mental health support, but also focus on long-term unemployment, child protection, as well as support for those experiencing domestic and family violence. Kids Helpline counsellors are tertiary qualified and trained to work with young people across a range of issues and presentations. The benefits of the professional counselling service in particular are huge. Just in the 2021-22 financial year Kids Helpline was contacted directly by over 443,000 children and young people from across Australia and millions more made the most of other services made available by Kids Helpline, including their online services.
The amount of lives that these services will have changed, and in some cases saved, will be countless. We are so lucky, especially in the Hunter, that these services are free and accessible to us. But it is clear that mental health has become an even bigger issue for young people of Australia, especially following the pandemic, with the Kids Helpline experiencing a significant surge in calls for support during the lockdowns. Over 50 per cent of callers are requiring counselling. This is the first time this has been the case in the 30 year history of Kids Helpline. As a result, a high demand for the Kids Helpline services now exceed capacity. This means that there are even more barriers to young people, like those in the Hunter, who already find it hard enough to get the support they need. However, going without this support when you need it is not an option.
As members of parliament, we are in the position of being able to raise awareness of the available support services. And it is our responsibility as members of parliament to make sure that this support continues to be available to each and every person who needs it. So I would like to say to the young people in the Hunter: if you are going through a hard time, if you're struggling with something, support is there for you. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Make the most of the 24/7 Kids Helpline by calling 1800551800 or by going online through kidshelpline.com.au. Looking after the youngest members of our community ensures a bright future for the Hunter electorate. I thank the Kids Helpline for the wonderful work they do to provide much-needed support for young people of the Hunter and also to the young people of Australia.
Aaron Violi (Casey, Liberal Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
Kids Helpline provides a vital service for youth mental health of all Australians but this is especially so for rural and regional areas like my electorate of Casey, where a town like Warburton is a good 40-minute drive, and even longer on public transport, for young people who need a specialised service. Kids Helpline is the only free professional and confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service that specialises in providing support to all young people aged between five and 25. We saw during COVID and its lockdowns how much this service was needed and how vital it was in helping young people all across the country. Kids Helpline is a trusted provider of services for young people with a focus on mental health and wellbeing, long-term unemployment, prevention of youth suicide, child protection, as well as support for those experiencing family and domestic violence. Kids Helpline is the critical safety net for children and young people needing mental health support and is often the only mental health service available after hours, or for those living in rural and remote areas. Kids Helpline's provision of professional free counselling support ensures equality for children and young people, regardless of their location or circumstance.
I had the opportunity just last week to speak to Kathryn and Marion from Kids Helpline. They outlined some of the stories and people who have been impacted. What is so important about this service is that it is available to those who need it, no questions asked. It is a safe place for young people.
To continue their work, Kids Helpline has really big plans for the future of but they also need support from us. I know this is a bipartisan motion and it's great to see. A phone centre in Brisbane was impacted by the floods last year and that has had a significant impact on their operation. They have some exciting plans around investing in digital technology to improve their service and allow the service to scale to another level. I urge us to support them in any way we can in this House because during the financial year 2021 to 2022, Kids Helpline was contacted over 443,000 times and 156,000 of these were responded to, so there is more demand than they are able to look after at this time. They enacted 5,753 emergency responses. To understand, they are emergency responses where particularly young people are experiencing a crisis such as a suicide attempt, child abuse or sexual assault. The counsellors literally stay on the line while they call emergency services, and 5,753 times the counsellors were able to support those in direct crisis. The reason why we need to continue to support them is there were almost 300,000 calls not answered. It is tragic to think that within that 300,000 there would have been many more who needed that emergency response. That's why I'll always continue to advocate in this House for support for youth mental health services, particularly Kids Helpline and the amazing work they do.
In my electorate of Casey, we recently had a very successful youth mental health service but the Lilydale Youth Club closed its doors in December last year and it was a severe blow to our local community. I'd like to take a moment to mention some of the key groups that were involved in establishing the youth hub: Sue Sestan at Inspiro; Anchor, CIRE Services; Oonah Health and Community Aboriginal Corporation; the Eastern Community Legal Centre; and the Yarra Ranges Council, which did amazing work establishing the youth hub. I know they're continuing to work to see what options there are for the hub. I'll support them in any way I can. They collectively advocate for the health and wellbeing needs of young people in the Yarra Ranges and Casey. Our community knows the complex needs of young people and their families in this region. It can't be met by headspace alone, which, again, is already oversubscribed. That's why our advocacy in this place is so important.
We also know that our young people need to have somewhere safe and welcoming to spend their time so that their needs don't escalate into costly therapeutic interventions. It's times like these that Kids Helpline can assist. We are thankful for their invaluable service and commitment to youth mental health. I'll continue to advocate for services like the Lilydale Youth Hub and Kids Helpline, which help our community and their families. For those kids, I want to let you know that Kids Helpline is available 24/7 by calling 1800 55 1800 or online through kidshelpline.com.au.
Graham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
Every member and senator in this place understands the importance of Kids Helpline for our young people. I thank the member for Forde for bringing this motion forward. As the member for Casey mentioned earlier, this very much has bipartisan support. yourtown, which operates the helpline, does a magnificent job of being a reliable ear and a voice for young people struggling with mental health issues or anxiety. It's crucial that our young can contact a tertiary qualified and trained counsellor for help and advice both online and on the phone 24/7. Many of these children may be in a situation where they can't access the services they require because of where they live and/or who they live with. They may live in a household where a parent or caregiver may not be as open to them seeking help. Sadly, as we know, most harm will be visited by those who claim to love us the most, so being able to access this independent service is so important.
It's changed a lot since it started way back in 1981, from being a telephone access service to now offering webchat, My Circle, a social platform for kids aged 13 to 25 to access to talk to peers, and other opportunities to access materials through online and social media. It's moving with the times. Back in 1991, who would have thought that bullying would move online? Bullies are now in your bedroom. Back in 1991, Troll was just a bad movie, or they were something that lived under bridges in fairytales. Who would have considered the added pressures that young people have to deal with today, like NAPLAN—although my son, who just did NAPLAN, didn't seem as worried as I would have hoped he'd be—social media, helicopter parents, the digital world and climate change? It can feel endless.
While Kids Helpline does an amazing job, it is important that we continue to invest in young people's mental health. I was pleased to see the Minister for Education, Jason Clare, and the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride, recently announce a student wellbeing boost of $203 million of funding for a new voluntary mental health check to enable schools to ensure that vulnerable students get early help when needed. There is also $192 million, as an additional one-off funding, for every school to support their students' mental health and wellbeing coming out of the COVID crisis.
There are also a variety of different supports from the federal government for young people, including the Smiling Mind Schools Program, the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health initiative, the Be You education initiative delivered by Beyond Blue and the Head to Health Kids Hubs. We need each state to make sure of the availability of quality wraparound mental health services. I know that teachers and staff at local schools are often at the coalface when dealing with mental health issues with children. They do this despite the increasing workload issues facing our modern schools.
Recently, I was at a loading dock at a retail store in my electorate after buying a new television for my dad when a former student handed me my order. He saw my name and we started chatting. It was funny. I didn't remember the kid well, but he said, 'Thank you for providing a safe space for me.' It was one of the nicest things I've ever heard. I know that teachers, principals and staff all around Australia are providing safe places in a chaotic world every single day in our schools. Often they are the first to notice issues and refer them to specialised care either through the education department or through the state health system. I want to make a special shout-out to all of the 50 schools in the Moreton electorate for the great job the staff, the principals and the other support workers do at the frontline in terms of dealing with kids dealing with family issues and mental health issues—obviously not just the Moreton schools; all schools around Australia.
To close out, I'd also like to thank everyone who donates to Kids Helpline. To all those counsellors, I want you to know that you're appreciated for the job that you do in helping out young people. My friend Kylie, my wife's best friend, used to be a counsellor at the Brisbane office and has now gone on to work in full-time child protection work. Certainly Kids Helpline was good preparation. Thank you for all the amazing work that you do and will continue to do.
Angie Bell (Moncrieff, Liberal National Party, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for young Australians. Last year, 402 young Australian lives were lost to suicide. Half of all the mental health conditions we experience at some point in our lives will have started by age 14, and over 75 per cent of mental health problems occur before the age of 25. It's very sobering. One in 10 young people aged 12 to 17 will self-harm. One in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt. One in 40 will attempt suicide.
There is hope though. There are organisations across the country that provide free help and support to Australians who need it most. For more than 30 years yourtown's Kids Helpline has been one of those organisations, providing counselling, guidance and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For many young people, Kids Helpline has saved their life. It has been someone to talk to when there was no-one else to talk to, someone to listen to when there was no-one else who would understand, and something to support when you had all but given up.
Kids Helpline continues to play an integral role in our mental health system not only due to its role in supporting Australians aged 5 to 25 but also due to the ease of accessibility, particularly for those living in rural, regional and remote Australia. Before we had computers in our pocket, young people could access support from Kids Helpline through a phone, home mobile or even a payphone. You didn't need to see a doctor or need a reference; you could just dial 1800551800 and there would be someone on the other end of the phone to talk to. Then, as technology advanced, so too did Kids Helpline, who launched their online platform, making it easier for young people to seek the support they need.
The incredible work undertaken by Kids Helpline and many other mental health organisations was crucial during the pandemic. While we worried about the economy, the spread of the virus and preventing mass unemployment and death, children and young people were sometimes forgotten. Sure, they could still go to school from home, but many of them were not able to see their friends and continue their social development. And, for some, their home life deteriorated, something they weren't able to escape, due to the lockdowns. Having a service like Kids Helpline meant they could still seek support from the privacy of their phone or their computer. In the 2021-22 financial year over 443,000 children and young people across Australia contacted Kids Helpline. I want to take a moment to thank each and every person who currently works at Kids Helpline or has ever worked there. The work you do is changing lives across our country and is saving lives across our country. We won't know the full extent of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our children and young people, but we know that with organisations like Kids Helpline there'll always be someone to talk to if they need it. Providing early support is vital to help children and young people get back on track and to minimise long-term impacts.
I also want to mention the work of the previous coalition government and the funding that we provided to Kids Helpline to help them continue with their crucial work. In 2021 we provided yourtown's Kids Helpline with a $26.8 million investment to continue its support for the mental health and wellbeing of children and young Australians. Under the coalition, funding for mental health and suicide prevention services increased to a record $6.8 billion in 2022 and 2023, more than double what it was in 2012-13. We are committed to making mental health and suicide prevention a national priority and delivering better outcomes for all Australians.
I'm disappointed that in less than 12 months of being in government Labor have already slashed mental health services, reducing the number of psychologist sessions annually under Medicare from 20 to 10. This is disgraceful. But we shouldn't expect anything less from a government that sells lies and half-truths to get elected, given they cut mental health funding the last time they were in government and they've done it again. I call on the Albanese government to do more in the mental health space, including providing funding to Kids Helpline and similar organisations to ensure our children and young people are not left behind. 402 lives lost is 402 too many. We need to do more to support young Australians, who are the future of our country. I want to again thank the life-saving work of Kids Helpline and the many other organisations that also support our children and young people across Australia.
Luke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I rise to speak to an incredibly important resource for some of our most vulnerable young kids, and that is of course the Kids Helpline. This is a service offered by the charity yourtown, which has been providing vital services for young people across Australia since 1961. It is focused on mental health and wellbeing, long-term unemployment, the prevention of youth suicide, child protection and support for those experiencing domestic and family violence. For over 30 years, yourtown has been providing its free professional counselling and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for children and young people aged five to 25. Kids Helpline is a critical safety net for young people needing mental health support and is often the only service available after hours for those living in rural and remote areas. It provides professional, free counselling support that ensures equality for all children and young people, regardless of their location or circumstances. In the 2021-22 financial year, Kids Helpline was contacted by over 443,000 children and young people from across Australia. Millions more use resources and content across its multiple channels, including the great Kids Helpline website.
One of the young people using the website was Georgia, aged 13, who went through a tough time when her parents divorced. Georgia said:
My parents divorced and it changed my life, and not for the better. I was forced to stay at my dad's house. He was never there. It hurt because he just couldn't be bothered with me. I failed nearly all my assessment pieces, all I felt was stress, stress, stress!
Finally, Georgia found the Kids Helpline website. She said:
… I realised that I'm not the only person suffering. I realised that there are people out there willing to help me. Thanks to Kids Helpline, I'm smiling heaps more than I used to!
Or take the story of Caitlyn, aged 15, who recounts being diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder:
Many more months and attempts on my life later, I was at my lowest point. This is when I made a more serious attempt on my life, which was traumatic for everyone involved.
But therapy and friends and family assisted her recovery. She said:
Even though I am still struggling a lot with my feelings and thoughts, I wanted to say that, no matter what you are going through you deserve help, you deserve love and you're worth it.
Angus, aged 20, used the helpline when he was 16, after fighting with his parents all the time. He felt that they wouldn't listen to him, and one day he came home to find his belongings at the door and the door locked. He struggled to find a place to stay, and his grades at school slipped. Angus later said:
I talked to a really nice counsellor from Kids Helpline who supported me when things were really bad. I've also been able to work things out with my parents and we get along much better now. We still live apart but it's much better than it was.
These brave young people are only three of the millions helped by Kids Helpline and its website. This is an essential service that was strained by the lockdowns we had during the pandemic. For the first time in its over-30-year history, more than 50 per cent of callers now require counselling. Regrettably, demand is now so high that it exceeds capacity. I think all members would agree that Kids Helpline is a vital service that we should all support in this place. I'm proud that the Commonwealth government funds yourtown to deliver Kids Helpline.
I've got young children, like many people in this place. We hate to think of them being unsupported. They are our future. Today's world is so complex and complicated for them. It's great that there is a service, Kids Helpline, that they can reach out to. It might be not our kids; it might be some of our kids' friends, it could be anyone—any young Australian that is in need of this support, and I'm glad that it's there when our young Australians need it.
Lisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.