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Youth Mental health Services - Question to the Minister

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
23 October 2019

My question is directed to Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women. 

The Black Dog Institute and Mission Australia's Can we talk? Seven year youth mental health report - 2012-2018, released today, shows that nearly 25 per cent of people aged 15 to 19 have reported experiencing psychological distress—an increase from 18.7 per cent in 2012. This figure is even higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and women. With more than 75 per cent of mental health issues developing before the age of 25, is the Government aware of the Black Dog Institute's request for a centre that supports schools, universities and youth organisations to identify best practice prevention and an early intervention program? Will the Minister consider that request?

The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR (Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) (12:56:19): I thank the honourable member for her question. The first part of the question, which was about the report that officially came out today, was a question asked—

Ms Cate Faehrmann: I know. It was a specific question.

The Hon. BRONNIE TAYLOR: Okay, so I will elaborate again on those issues and also on the conclusion of the question, which directly related to the Black Dog Institute. As I said before, we are strengthening youth mental health services across the State. The honourable member specifically mentioned the high rate of young Aboriginal people experiencing mental health issues. Some $680,000 has been allocated to support the Aboriginal Got It! pilot program located in south-western Sydney. That will modify and adapt the general Got It! initiative and tailor it to address the emotional and social wellbeing of Aboriginal children and engage families. It was something I spoke about in my answer to the previous question and it is something I have spoken about numerous times in this House.

We have to be brave and courageous enough to try new programs. Not all of them will succeed and we have to accept that. The Got It! program is a good example of an investment by the New South Wales Government which was found to be effective and have good results, such as decreasing behavioural problems. It has now been tailored to an Aboriginal Got It! program, which is specifically targeting that group to make sure we get those same results. It is a fantastic initiative and I am proud that it is working.

The First 2000 Days Framework, which is conception to age five, outlines the importance of early childhood development. We know, and it is absolutely conclusive, that early intervention is key in terms of mental health issues and any health issues. We have to change our mindset and consider this in our work and look at early intervention and prevention. That framework has set the standard. We also have a decade-long, whole‑of‑government reform of mental health in response to Living Well, which is a strategic plan. I am looking forward to that report from the Mental Health Commissioner towards the end of the year. An additional $3.6 million has been provided to increase the existing number of Whole Family Teams from four to seven. Those teams provide intensive specialist mental health and drug and alcohol services to vulnerable families to improve health and safety outcomes for parents and their children.

I go to the second point, because I am aware of the time, about what the Black Dog Institute has suggested. I went to a briefing, which I am sure was probably similar to the one that the Hon. Cate Faehrmann went to at the Black Dog Institute. I am sure that many members will be going. I meet with many stakeholders across the mental health sector and they raise many ideas and suggestions with me. I consider them all and at this stage I am considering the suggestion.

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Cate Faehrmann
NSW Greens MP
23 October 2019
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