Speech: headspace Day

Speech: headspace Day Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (19:50): Tomorrow, 21 October, is headspace Day. I want to talk about some of the wonderful work that headspace does in my electorate. Headspace Day promotes mental health literacy among people aged 12 to 25 throughout Australia. In my electorate headspace has supported 809 young people throughout 2019 and 2020 to better manage their mental health and strengthen their wellbeing. I have been a long-time supporter of headspace because I have seen the fantastic work they have done on the New South Wales South Coast over many years.

Luckily, Nowra has a full headspace, which has supported local young people for years, but that support has never been more important than it has been this year. Young people have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but before that in my electorate they also had to contend with a summer of bushfires. Sadly for many young people, their family home and parents' livelihoods were lost during the fires. With an economy heavily reliant on tourism, many young people also lost their summer income with shops closed, holiday rentals empty and cafes without customers, but headspace has been there supporting the community every day. I was lucky enough to pop into the Nowra youth markets recently—a wonderful initiative of headspace and Sonder Youth. I was impressed by the entrepreneurship of so many local young people at these markets. There were artists selling photography and paintings, home-made jewellery, candles and wraps, artistic chopping boards—the list goes on. There was live music playing, and it was fantastic to see young people who might have lost work from this year's hits getting support from the local community.

In the wake of the bushfires, headspace Nowra has also held, among other things, a range of free skateboard workshops in partnership with Totem Skateboarding. They were in areas like Ulladulla, Culburra Beach, Sussex Inlet and Sanctuary Point giving people a place to go, something to do and, more importantly, something to look forward to. Young people knew there was someone there who would listen, someone there who could help if they needed it. That is why I was pleased to see the individual placement support trial at Nowra headspace extended as part of the budget.

It is because of the great work of Nowra headspace that during the election campaign I pushed hard for a full headspace to be delivered in Batemans Bay. With the nearest headspace in Bega, there was a huge gap in services for the northern Eurobodalla, and I wanted to make sure local young people in the Batemans Bay area could see the same benefits that I had witnessed in Nowra. Thankfully, the government matched my commitment at the election, and in the wake of the bushfires I fought hard to have that funding brought forward. The need was now; our young people could not afford to wait. I was pleased to see an interim headspace open in Batemans Bay in the months following the bushfires, and I know it is already having a huge impact out and about in the local community. I look forward to seeing the new full headspace open soon.

I want to sincerely thank all our headspace and other mental health workers for everything you are doing to help local young people. Sadly, my electorate, particularly the Kiama and Gerringong areas, has been dealing with the consequences of mental ill health in recent months, with a spike in suicides among local young people. These tragic events are a reminder of why we need things like headspace Day and why we need to raise awareness of mental health assistance. Our local communities have rallied together in an inspiring way, doing their important part to help those who are struggling. Our local towns turned yellow, and the Kiama and District Stronger Community Initiative was born, holding workshops and events to improve the collective mental wellbeing of the region. I was delighted to attend the mental health town hall meeting last week at The Pavilion in Kiama. I thank all of the organisers for their work in getting this underway.

This year has shown us that we can never take the mental wellbeing of our community for granted, so this headspace Day I want to show my support not just for headspace but for all the local organisations working hard to improve our community mental wellbeing and resistance, and I encourage others to inspire and share the small steps you take to support your mental health. We really will get through this together.