Tuesday, 31 August 2021
I want to take a couple of minutes to speak about some of the challenges facing our younger Australians. Professor Patrick McGorry, arguably the most respected mental health expert in the country, has spoken of the 'shadow pandemic' in relation to mental health issues. This has been significantly felt by our young people, who have had to deal with school closures, lockdowns and learning from home. Our own chief psychiatrist in New South Wales, Dr Murray Wright, has spoken of a 31 per cent increase this year in emergency department presentations by children and teenagers for self-harm and suicidal ideation.
We know that lockdowns and learning from home are difficult, and our young people are really feeling the pinch. As we speak, some of our young people are going into final exams and assessments without having spent a full school term in the classroom. It's devastating. As the mother of teenagers myself, I know how difficult it is for parents. I also know how difficult it is for children, as you will if your relationship with your young people is like mine. I admire all of our teachers and the patience they've shown in educating our young people.
I just want to say to any young people watching and listening: stick with it and try to be strong. If you need help, reach out for help. Stay in touch with your mates. Check in with your mates. Don't be afraid to reach out. To parents and others who are watching their young people struggling I say: wrap your arms around them and help them find the help they need. Stick with it, because we will get through this and we will get through it together.