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Politics

  • Written by Scott Morrison


DOORSTOP WITH PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA HON STEVEN MARSHALL MP, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP AND NICOLLE FLINT MP, MEMBER FOR BOOTHBY GLENELG, SA SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER 2018

SUBJECTS: headspace funding; Sex Discrimination Act; Queensland storms; Old Royal Adelaide Hospital site; stillbirth; rural labour

NICOLLE FLINT MP, MEMBER FOR BOOTHBY: Well good morning everyone. I’m Nicolle Flint, the Federal Member for Boothby. We are in beautiful Glenelg this morning, I’m delighted to have the Prime Minister Scott Morrison visit what will be part of the federal seat of Boothby at the next federal election. So welcome to the Prime Minister, welcome to the Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and also welcome to Premier Steven Marshall. We’ve had a fantastic morning this morning and I’m going to hand over to the Prime Minister, because he has the most fabulous announcement. Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much Nicolle. How good is headspace? How good is headspace, we’re backing headspace and this is now new and it’s great to have Pat McGorry here, the founders of headspace, the whole team as you can see behind me here today. It’s also great to have Christopher Pyne here today, who was the Minister at the time was headspace was set up, he worked closely with Pat and the whole team to establish what I think has been one of the most successful mental health initiatives that we have seen in this country. Its success lies in the fact it’s just holistic, it actually deals with the whole person. It looks at all of their needs, all of the pressures.

I have worked with Pat now over three different portfolios, in immigration, in social services, as Treasurer and now as Prime Minister and there are few programs I get more excited about than headspace. I really want to commend Christopher for his vision at the time of setting all this up and working with the mental health community. But particularly for Pat and his vision about where he saw this going in the future. There’s nothing better than when you’re seeing a program, which is changing the lives of young Australians and setting them on a path that is completely different to the one they were probably on when they walked in the doors of that headspace clinic, or when they met one of the ambassadors at a club or a shopping centre or in the community somewhere. They have put them on a different path, a path where they’re making choices about their lives, where they’re making positive decisions for their future. That is being enabled by headspace.

Because headspace isn't just about getting counselling services. It's everything from helping young people get a job to supporting their physical activity, to improving their relationships. It’s dealing with the whole person. That's why today I'm very pleased to announce that our government is putting  $51.8 million extra into headspace.

[Applause]

Thank you. What that’s going to do is create 14,000 extra visits into our headspace clinics around the country. It also includes $12.8 million to ensure e-health services right around the country.

Now recently, as you’ve seen, I have been getting out and about to some of the most remote parts of the country, but also the inner city parts of our major cities. Out there in rural and remote Australia they need these services. The way we can deliver the services today – and it is everything, the holistic service which headspace provides - that can be now done through digital formats. So, to be getting more services through the conventional way that headspace is delivered and getting more services out to rural and regional parts of the country and remote parts of the country through this service, is tremendously exciting. So I'm pretty jacked about it, I’m pumped up about it. I'm really exited about it because this is going to make a big difference. Our Government is pleased to do it, it’s all about keeping Australians together. Those who are hurting, we need to embrace them and keep them together as part of our community. That is what headspace does, it treats people as a community, within the community.

Well done to Pat and Christopher and the whole team at headspace and to Greg Hunt, I particularly want to acknowledge him here, who couldn't be here today. But Greg, well done to you mate, in ensuring you could bring forward this tremendous proposal that we could back in. We're backing in headspace, more clinical services. It means lower wait times, and a greater reach out to all the young people who need this service. Thank you very much. I'm going to pass over now to the Premier and then we will throw to Pat.

THE HON. STEVEN MARSHALL MP, PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Well, I’m going to be very quick but I do want to welcome the Prime Minister and thank him very much for this wonderful new spend on an area which really speaks to their ambition, as a Government in Canberra, putting people who are living with difficult situations around mental health, putting them first. We really welcome this new spend. We really welcome the Coalition's focus on supporting people who are finding it tough. We particularly are pleased that some of this money is going to go to people living regionally and remotely, who often miss out on services, they are not in this situation. Headspace has done a great job for a long period of time, it's a proven methodology and we are absolutely delighted that the Prime Minister is going to back it going forward.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much Steve, now my friend Pat McGorry.

PROF. PATRICK MCGORRY: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. One million young Australians every year, probably more than that, are affected by mental ill-health. It is going to threaten their lives, their futures. So every parent and every young person knows this, much more than they did say 12 years ago, when headspace started. So it’s one of the massive health priorities for Australia. I'm extremely grateful to the Prime Minister today and to the Government for supporting the strengthening of headspace. Headspace is already strong, but it could do a lot more, we have a lot more work to do. This is another brick in the wall and we're grateful. It’s great to be here with Christopher Pyne too, because I worked closely with him at the beginning of headspace and he’s always been a great supporter so it’s very fortunate he's here today. Greg Hunt too, he played a great role over the last couple of years. I remember when he first took up the portfolio, he and I travelled together to Grafton in New South Wales where 15 young people had died in a cluster suicide in that town. Greg went there, he spent the whole day meeting with the bereaved parents and within a few months, there was a headspace. There hasn't been, to my knowledge, a suicide in that town since then.

So, headspace saves lives, it saves futures. It's the main lever that we have in turning back the tide of mental ill-health in young people. I have just come back from Boston, where a major international conference on early intervention looks to Australia for new ideas, looks to Australia for reform, looks to Australia for progress in mental health. Mental health is the sleeping giant, really, in the health system. We have neglected it in every country in the world, for decades. Last week was World Mental Health Day where young people were front and centre. Every country acknowledged it was not spending enough money on mental health care. So Australia is the country that can really transform the way things are done around the world. We've done that already and we have to keep doing it. I want to acknowledge Jason Trethowan and John. Jason is the CEO of headspace and he's done an amazing job since he's been in place. We can keep doing great work as long as we get the support of the Australian Government, which we've always had, 110 per cent, in fact from either side of politics. So it’s a national reform that every everyone should be proud of and support. So thank you very much Prime Minister for this today and we look forward to the future.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Pat. Well said.

[Applause]

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP: There’s just two things I would like to add to what has been said. The first is that when Pat and I created headspace a dozen years ago, there wasn't even a Minister for mental health in Australia and there was a great dispute that had been continuing for years about whether it was a state government responsibility or a Commonwealth government responsibility. But we cut through that and we created headspace and mental health has come in from the cold and is very much a focus for our health outcomes here in Australia and particularly for young people.

I'm very pleased to see that we now have a proper understanding of the needs of mental health and we've stopped the arguments about who's paying for what and are just getting on with it. It is one of the achievements of the last 10 years in health in Australia. As Pat said, we are actually exporting this headspace model. When I was in Israel in July, they’ve adopted the headspace model of mental health for young people. They are about to open their second centre. The second thing I would say is that the Government can only do this today, this $51 million investment, because we're running a strong Budget and we are running a strong economy. We are growing the economy, which means more revenue. We’ve got spending under control in the last four or five years which means we have got more money for the things that really matter. Rather than paying off debt and interest, we're paying for things like today's announcement, because we can. That's why a strong economy and good budgetary management is vital for the delivery of services that people expect. Thank you.

[Applause]

PRIME MINISTER: Let's have questions on the announcement today and then if there are questions about politics, we can deal with those a little later, I don't think I’ll be troubling Pat and others. Because I’m sure you might want to ask Pat and the team, Jason and so on, if questions relate to today’s announcement.  So any questions about headspace?

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister in 2015 you said that a job was a prescription for someone suffering from depression, do you stand by that?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes I do and the person who told me that was Pat McGorry. Because Pat came and sat in my office when I was Social Services Minister and told me that was part of the whole-of-person treatment that was necessary. And I’ve met a young woman here today who has been the beneficiary of our thinking like that, we funded that program like we're funding these programs. That’s changing the lives of young people. So of course I do.

JOURNALIST: Would you be expecting headspace to open more centres, particularly in regional areas, as a result of this extra funding? 

JASON TRETHOWAN, HEADSPACE CEO: This announcement today again, is most welcome by headspace and thank you to all the young people who have accessed headspace. We know more young people are seeking help. More young people are seeking help because they are a bit braver than perhaps generations that have gone by. What we know today is that headspace has been struggling to keep pace with the demand coming through the doors and onto our online services. But today’s announcement strengthens what we have already, which is so critical. The funding today is all about strengthening and building capacity for more clinical support in the headspace centres today and also the online environment, to reduce wait times, to allow young people to get the support early when they need it. We look forward to working with the Government on future headspace developments and expansions across the country. But today we want to say thank you, a huge thanks to the Prime Minister for his commitment to headspace of today, and for backing in those young people who are brave enough to have a chat about their mental health wellbeing and for us to be able to provide those coping strategies to help them on their way, to get the job, to stay in work, to stay connected to family and friends.

JOURNALIST: So the majority of that funding goes toward online services so you can reach those regional areas?

JASON TRETHOWAN, HEADSPACE CEO: 12.8 million will go towards our online service e-headspace. That operates 9:00am to 1:00am, seven days a week. That specifically targets rural and remote communities and also young Australians in other regional and metropolitan settings as well. But the bulk of the money is actually going into the 107 headspace services via the primary health networks. So we work with those services on the ground to ensure we get greater capacity to reduce wait times and give young people a chance to get help and the support they need.

As the Prime Minister said, it's not just about counselling, it's about understanding their entire needs, so they can actually stay connected to school, work and study.

JOURNALIST: Will there be any left over then, to open new centres in regional areas?

JASON TRETHOWAN, HEADSPACE CEO: The way in which the funding has been constructed, it's not about new centres. It is about strengthening what we have already got which is so fundamentally important. It is what, actually, headspace asked of the Government. Minister Greg Hunt has been terrific in listening, through his visits around the country headspace centres, realising that more young people are seeking help and more young people are getting help. But we've had experiences where there have been wait times and we don't want young people to be waiting any longer than they need to. So, this is really welcome, to have a strengthening of the headspace network before we build on more down the track.

JOURNALIST: So headspace was [inaudible] experiencing, prior to this announcement?

JASON TRETHOWAN, HEADSPACE CEO: Headspace across the country experienced variability in terms of how quickly they can see a young person. We will always see someone or listen to understand their needs. We won't judge them, we're not going to put them aside. All young people who come to headspace get a chance for a conversation. But what this funding will allow is for greater clinical capacity, more clinicians, more online services to be able to reach those young people. Because obviously we have more young people today than we did in the last decade and we have also got more young people in psychological distress than perhaps there was in 2007. So we have got multiple factor occurring.

headspace is vibrant, headspace is extremely welcoming, headspace is great for young people to come and have a very good chat, conversation. This money will be actually all about helping them get the services they need earlier.

JOURNALIST: What about Indigenous communities and particularly remote areas, suicide and youth suicide are at a very high level, how will this funding contribute to the [inaudible]?

JASON TRETHOWAN, HEADSPACE CEO: Well any young person in high levels of distress, who are feeling suicidal, or any of those feelings, by having headspace reducing the stigma - we have got a lot of young people here today who have experienced their own mental health journeys. They have sought help through encouragement of family and friends. They have come to headspace and from there, they have been given the strategy and the coping mechanisms to help reduce those levels of distress and give them lifelong coping strategies.

So, while we cannot say that all suicides will be reduced or be avoided, of course early intervention is the key. As Pat McGorry said before the ages of 12 to 25 are so critical for a young person to seek help early and get on top of those feelings of anxiety and depression. Headspace is here for them, as the Prime Minister has said.

JOURNALIST: Unfortunately that demand doesn’t seem like it’s going to ease any time soon, is $51 million enough?

JASON TRETHOWAN, HEADSPACE CEO: Look, I'm not going to go into “is 51 enough”. $51 million is more than what we had yesterday. $51 million is not to be sneezed at. It's going to be extremely welcome across the country. It's about getting those services in place. The funding starts flowing this financial year. So, from that point of view it's fantastic, it's an immediate support. We look forward to actually realising the expectations, the high level of expectations that the Government have handed over this money for Headspace services and primary health networks to deliver on.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] where are we at with youth suicide and the rates that we’re seeing and how big of a crisis is it in our country?

PROF. PATRICK MCGORRY: Look, that is a great question. Every single one of those suicides is a preventable death. These young people and even in other parts of the lifespan, do not have terminal illnesses. Every single one of those people could be saved. So we have got a huge challenge in the Australian health system generally to take mental health much more seriously, as a state and federal responsibility. There is a sense and there are data to show that the mental health of the community is actually getting a bit worse. We are seeing a rise in ED presentations and we need to look very carefully at this. What we need to do is not more of the same. This is why programs like headspace are so important. These are reform programs, these are new ways of doing things and we need to reform the whole mental health system. 20 years ago we got rid of our old mental hospitals and replaced it with a sort of mark 1 version of a new model of care. That's clearly struggling. We need to do a lot more. But it needs and the Government has announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health, which we welcome. We appreciate the Prime Minister's decision on that too. That's going to be a vital thing, because we need to spend more money, but we will save money if we do that. Because mental health across the whole of the health system, is the one area where if you spend money, you will get a return on investment. You won't see that in cancer, you won't see that in heart disease, but you will see it in mental health. So we can solve this and people are dying so we have to solve it quickly.

JOURNALIST: What else would ou like to see then, done to try and reduce that.

PROF. PATRICK MCGORRY: Well as Jason said, I don't want to shift the focus away from today's announcement, which is very positive about strengthening – it’s exactly in the right area - strengthening community-based mental health care. That's what we're doing today. We're doing it in an innovative way online too. But it’s more of that, more investment where people live. Built on to the primary care system, which is what headspace is, strengthening it from the grassroots up, not from hospitals down. That's what I would say. That's the new way and it’s great the Premier is here today too because it’s a dialogue between state and federal governments that is going to solve this problem. We, in Australia are the country that will solve it. I really believe that, I’ve worked in Australia my whole professional life, we’re the most innovative and decisive country when we put our minds to these things. So I’ve got great confidence we will do it but lives are in the balance so we’ve got to actually take it a lot more seriously.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Pat. Pat and I have had an ongoing meeting and discussion, about this for years. In fact, we’re meeting in Canberra tomorrow to talk about “where to from here”. That’s what we will continue to do as a Government in this space.

As a Prime Minister, I want to ensure we give hope to young people, whether it’s hope to young people who are struggling with mental health, whether it’s hope to young people who don't feel they will find a job, whether it’s hope to young people anxious about their futures and their education. We want to give - as Steven here is in South Australia – I mean this is a tremendous country, it’s full of great opportunities. We want all young people in the country to be able to see those opportunities and go out and reach them. Headspace is helping those young Australians do just that.

In the last financial year over 100,000 young Australians got a job. That is the biggest growth in youth employment our country has ever seen on economic record. So whether it's getting them support on mental health or getting them into a job because we're running a strong economy, which then backs in the services that does that again, this is about giving young Australians hope.

Any other questions?

JOURNALIST: Same question, is $51 million enough?

PRIME MINISTER: Well this is why we’re in a constant dialogue with headspace. This is why we’ve got a Productivity Commission report. I mean, these questions are constantly being answered, we’re answering one of those questions today with $51.8 million and you keep running a strong economy, you keep working closely with organisations like headspace and particularly people like Pat who know more about this than any of the rest of us, then you keep making the right decisions.

We’ve made the right decision today to put $51.8 million into these services and we’re going to keep making those right decisions into the future. But as Christopher says, headspace is a success because of those who pioneered it, those who work in it every day. It’s also a success because of the strong economy that we’ve been running that can back it in and we’re backing it in today.

JOURNALIST: Can you just clarify then, is the $51.8 million [right now they’ll have access to that, or is it rolled out over two or three years?

PRIME MINISTER: This rolls out, as you’ve just heard, from this financial year.

JOURNALIST: Will there be any additional funding to put programs like this into schools?

PRIME MINISTER: There are already programs which reach out into schools, there are programs here that reach out through headspace into football clubs, into netball clubs, into community organisations. This is my point about headspace; headspace reaches everywhere, it reaches out. They don’t just stand there in the office and wait for people to walk in the front door, they are a proactive organisation. The great thing about the headspace brand is it’s an accessible, connectable symbol for people, to know that they can come and connect with people from headspace and do it in a way that is on their terms and they can get the help they need on their terms and they can change their life.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] are you completely certain within your party there aren’t pockets of resistance to the Bill?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes I am certain.

JOURNALIST: Would you be prepared to contemplate any changes [inaudible] the Party?

PRIME MINISTER: I don’t foresee any problems with this from the Coalition’s point of view with what I outlined yesterday, whatsoever. I’ve only had strong messages of support from my colleagues. There was a discussion I took through both our leadership group and through Cabinet as well, before coming to that position and received very strong support for that and I expect to see that.

But the Attorney-General will work through the precise nature of this and work closely with the other parties in the Parliament. I’ve also spoken to religious organisations who also support this. This is where, over the next fortnight, we’ve just got to ensure that we get the thing done and no one plays politics with it. We just fix it.

There was unnecessary anxiety created by this. Schools aren’t running around doing this sort of thing at the moment, by the way. They don’t do it. The Labor Party actually created the power for them to do it, but no one’s being doing it. That’s why we should just get the words right, let’s focus on the principle issue here; which is the concern that a school could potentially expel a student because of their sexuality and no one agrees with that. Religious schools don’t agree with that and we know that because they’re not doing it.

So we’ll just get that sorted in the next fortnight, I hope we can do that without a whole bunch of posturing and hoopla. That we just actually get on with it, no one goes into the point scoring, we just get it done.

JOURNALIST: Just in relation to the storms in Queensland, what’s been your reaction to seeing that damage?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s very distressing. We’re supporting the agencies and the services that particularly turn up in the first response from the state governments and we wish them all the best. I’m sure they’ll be reaching out to the Commonwealth as and when is necessary.

JOURNALIST: And the woman who shielded her child from the hail storm, do you think she’d be worthy of a bravery award?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, others make those decisions but I certainly think she’s one of the bravest people I’ve read of lately. You know, there are so many brave souls in Australia. There are so many courageous souls in Australia.

But I’ve got to tell you, it takes a lot of courage if you’re a young person and you’re struggling with things and you’re thinking the darkest of thoughts. It takes a lot of courage for you to reach out for help, to pick up the phone, to talk to headspace, to see someone wearing a green cap or bandanna or t-shirt in a shopping centre and to approach them. It takes a lot of courage for a young person who struggles with mental illness or who has been out of work for a year to go and fill out a job application and turn up and try and get a job and that’s happening. That’s what I call courage.

JOURNALIST: Where do you stand on striking a deal with the state government to revitalise the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site?

PRIME MINISTER: This is exciting and Steven might want to comment on this as well. Look, we are working quite constructively on this. What I’m excited about with Steven Marshall, I’m calling it the “Marshall smile,” that’s across South Australia at the moment. People are smiling across South Australia because of the great hope and vision that Steven is bringing to the state as Premier. But one of the reasons that's happening, is Steven looks like at a site like the Royal Adelaide Hospital, he doesn't imagine just a bunch of flats. What he imagines is a new technology hub. What he imagines is a new hospitality training centre of world class. Now, that's his vision. As a Government, what we want to do is we want to back in the visions of people like Steven Marshall or Will Hodgman down in Australia or what Gladys Berejiklian is doing up in New South Wales with Western Sydney Airport, where we’re making investments. Where states have great plans, of course we want to play a role and we're working through those details. The events of a few months ago means that we’re now having those conversations but we’re had a lot of progress on that and I suspect we will able to get to an arrangement, hopefully before year's end.

JOURNALIST: Has an financial support for that project been [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: We haven't got to that point yet, but I tell you what I do back; I back his vision. I back Steven Marshall's vision for South Australia and so do the people of South Australia.

JOURNALIST: There will be [inaudible] Senate this week to call for an inquiry into the ABC. Will the Government support that?

PRIME MINISTER: We already have one, we’ve been doing one. The Department has been doing one. Honestly, I think if the Senate wants to do one, they’re at liberty to go and have an inquiry into the ABC. But as I said couple of weeks ago, I think people want to stop talking about the ABC, they want to ABC to do their job well and get on with it. I don't see how that's going to do anything to bring people's electricity prices down, or do anything to help them get a job or deal with the drought.

I remember the day when I was being asked about this. Macca from Australia All Over, broadcasting this morning again, he is coming to speak at our Drought Summit in a couple of weeks. Because I wanted Macca to come and relay to all of the participants in the Drought Summit the stories that they tell Macca every week. He talks to people all over the country and as we consider what we're doing on the drought and work to coordinate better, I think Macca's stories are going to be very helpful.

You know, what Macca does on a Sunday morning is the ABC at its best.

JOURNALIST: Labor have promised [inaudible] towards reducing the rate of stillbirth today, is that something you’ll look at?

PRIME MINISTER: I will have a look at that announcement and what they are planning, I think this is an issue of tremendous sadness for so many families.

I was just down this week in Melbourne and I was at, as Christopher will know, the Beth Wiseman Centre down there in Melbourne. I walked past a counselling room for bereaved parents. Whether that’s through stillbirth or children you’ve lost early in their lives, I cannot think of anything just more heartbreaking. So we will look at the proposals in a very empathetic way and we will look at the detail. But, certainly, the area is one we would share a strong concern.

JOURNALIST: It’s six a day that we lose at the moment.  

PRIME MINSTER: Yes, it’s terribly shocking.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday you announced a new measure to help fill farm labour shortages, but some farm groups say the workers are not in the areas they need them. How is this actually going to support them?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I announced three things yesterday, not one. The first thing I announced was I want all farmers go and register their labour needs with the harvest service, the job harvest service, so we know where the jobs are. That’s step one, so get on and do that. The second is, what we will do is make sure that that goes through the Jobactive service, so where there are people, fit and able and ready to work if those areas, they should go and do those jobs. Australians should do those jobs first. And third, what we said is where there are gaps, then what we will do is target assistance through two programs, the Working Holiday Maker Visa program and importantly and in a primary sense, the Pacific Island Labour Scheme. So this is a holistic package. But what I need the farmers to do first is register the job needs. When do you immediate the workers? Where do you need the workers? For how long and how much are you going to pay them? What I don't want to see happen in Australia is illegal work going on on farms and cash work going on on farms. What I want to see is this to be all done in a very transparent, open way.

You need workers. Our plan will help get workers to you to pick that fruit. But you need to tell us where the jobs are and when you need them and we will work with you to solve the problems.

Great! Thank you very much.

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