Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Questions without Notice
In the past 12 months nine fly-in-fly-out workers have committed suicide in the Pilbara while living away from home. The parliament of Western Australia has launched an inquiry to examine issues behind those tragic deaths. Given that there are many interstate FIFO workers, I believe their mental health is in our nation's interest. Will the minister look into this issue?
Indeed, I can indicate to the senator that mental health issues, particularly as they relate to areas like fly-in-fly-out, are being considered. That is why we have tasked the Mental Health Reform Commission to look into this in detail. There are significant issues when it comes to mental health, particularly in rural and regional areas, and I can assure the senator that we are giving this the deepest consideration.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to a committee report into the use of fly-in-fly-out workforce practices in regional Australia, which was tabled on 13 February 2013. Paragraph 4.47 relates to health issues and led to recommendation eight. Will a comprehensive health policy response be formulated?
I can indicate to the senator that, of course, those recommendations will be responded to in due course. But the Senate should in no way think that this government is anything other than incredibly focused on mental health and what needs to be done from a policy sense to ensure that we can improve those conditions. I am from a regional area. I spend a significant amount of time in rural and regional areas. This is an issue that is raised with me consistently. Again, I can assure the senator of our very grave consideration of these issues.