Youth Mental Health

Monday, 27 November 2023

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (10:56): I rise to speak about the second youth mental health forum that I have organised in Mitchell on behalf of our community to address many of the ongoing youth mental health issues that we have seen following the pandemic in recent years. I want to thank all those key agencies within my electorate who attended: obviously, our local police area command; the Hills Clinic; different church and faith groups; headspace Castle Hill, which I was proud to advocate for and get for young people in our electorate; Youth Insearch; Hills Community Aid, the premier charity in my electorate; and the Community Migrant Resource Centre.

Our second meeting focused on many of the things that we are hearing from young people and the challenges in front of them. I again say to the government: there are important things that need to be done in this space. The cuts that the Labor Party made to the PBS psychology sessions, from 20 to 10, has added pressure to local services. It's not a political issue—it's universal feedback from the community—and, given that we have a sustained increase in mental health challenges for young people, it's just simply bad policy regardless of the politics. We need to keep a high level of mental health service during this period. There's been overwhelming feedback about that issue, as well as other issues.

Sometimes the Labor Party runs from discussing Medicare or screams at us that it's privatisation, but the back end of Medicare needs attention. We still know that the provider numbers are out of date and not suitable for mental health challenges. They have to be reformed. It's something any government should take on—the Labor government should take it on with gusto—but we haven't heard anything about it. I'll just provide that feedback to the government again: in the Medicare system, there is a need to modernise and improve the ability for professionals to access the Medicare system for mental health services. We need to do that together as a parliament. On behalf of not only young people in my electorate but also, I think, people around Western Sydney and the country, I say, 'Let's get on with that task, rather than arguing about some of the politics around Medicare.' It simply needs to be done.

We talked about vaping and the challenges with vaping. Again, I would say to the government and the health minister that vaping needs another look. It's a challenge for young people, for parents, for teachers and for us, but the government and the minister treating it in the way that they are is not contributing to a solution to this problem for young people. I note the member here who agrees. There are plenty of members on both sides who do agree. I think we put our heads in the sand on this issue. We're ignoring a serious challenge for young people, teachers and parents across Australia, and I'd ask the government to look at that again.

We know that 75 per cent of mental health problems occur before the age of 25 and we agree that it is of paramount urgency that we address this issue. I welcome the government bringing forward policy in youth mental health, addressing this issue and looking again at some of the things they've done right and done wrong. We can work together on this issue. I would urge us to do it, and I thank everyone for attending in my electorate.