• Tony Bosworth

Hundreds sign petition to get Headspace up and running in the Hawkesbury after 8-year wait for funds

Hundreds of local residents have signed a new petition started by Macquarie MP Susan Templeman, calling on the Federal Government to fund a Headspace service in the Hawkesbury to improve access to mental health help for young people.

Ms Templeman says she started the petition out of frustration after no funding was identified in this year’s Federal Budget for the Hawkesbury service, “despite $100 billion in spending and $1 trillion of debt,” she said.

“With numbers that big, you’d think there would be an embarrassment of riches for this area, particularly in light of increased demand for mental health services after we went through bushfires, two floods and a pandemic. But apparently not,” Ms Templeman said.

“The Hawkesbury has been waiting eight years for the Federal Government to deliver a Headspace, which provides mental health services for people aged 12 to 25 years old and is an easy way to reach out early for youth-focused help.

“Young people, and their families, should not be asked to wait any longer.

“A Headspace service for the Hawkesbury shouldn’t be delayed to serve as an election promise. It shouldn’t be a political football.

“We all know how few mental health services there are in the Hawkesbury. You have to travel, and that means a journey of at least an hour for many local people. And that’s if you own a car.

“So imagine doing that as someone who doesn’t have that car and relies on public transport. Or doesn’t have the funds because they only work part time. Or they’re studying full time. Or they are an apprentice and don’t have any spare cash.

“That is the situation for so many people aged under 25 in the Hawkesbury, and in the words of hundreds of young people and their families who have contacted me, this needs to change.”

Ms Templeman’s comments came as she moved a motion in Parliament drawing MPs’ attention to youth mental health issues.

“In the motion, I noted that suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 24 years, and recognised that young people’s decision to access mental health care is fragile - if they don’t have a positive experience they may not make another attempt to seek help,” Ms Templeman said.

“Youth-friendly mental health services are not available uniformly to young people, and I called on the Government to increase access to effective mental health services and supports for young people across all stages of mental ill-health, and build a youth mental health workforce to meet the current and future needs.

“Improving support for young people has been at the core of my reasons for entering Parliament, and it is no secret that my family’s experience with the mental health of a child has been a defining one.

“I have long called for a full Headspace service for the Hawkesbury – and in 2019 Labor committed $2 million to establish a local service - so more young people dealing with mental health issues get support early.

“I know my daughter feels if she’d had access to a Headspace when she was a young teenager it might have made her journey a little easier.

“I’d urge all those who want to join with me in getting more mental health services for our area to sign this petition. Together, we can send a message to the Morrison Government that we need a Headspace now.”

You can sign the petition online at www.susantempleman.com.au/have-your-say/headspace-for-the-hawkesbury/

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