• Tony Bosworth

Stop dangling the carrot - announce a Headspace, don't wait to use it as pre-election gift - MP

Young lives are being put at risk while the Federal Government waits to establish a Headspace service in the Hawkesbury, Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has said this morning – Monday.

“We can't wait and see a Hawkesbury Headspace used as some pre-election gift to the community,” said Ms Templeman.

“It's an essential service and if the funding is sitting there waiting to be announced, we need to know now."

There was no announcement in the recent Federal Budget about Headspace funding for the Hawkesbury despite promises over the years coupled with increased government spending on mental health announced in the Budget, but on the weekend a Hawkesbury councillor published a Facebook post, as did the Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, hinting at a future announcement for the Hawkesbury.

Ms Templeman says, “frankly, kids are dying while they are waiting to get easy access to youth mental health.

“If there is going to be a Headspace for the Hawkesbury, and if there was funding set aside in the last Budget that is yet to be announced but is for a Hawkesbury Headspace, people deserve to know that, right now,” Ms Templeman said.

Senator Payne’s Facebook Post says, “Ministers Greg Hunt MP and David Coleman - Member for Banks - have announced that over $1.1 million is being invested in Headspace Katoomba to help reduce wait times by taking on new staff.

“In 2019, the Morrison Government made an election commitment to establish a Headspace service for the Blue Mountains,” Sen Payne says.

“Our investment is benefiting Headspace centres across Western Sydney, and I will continue to work with Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, to further strengthen the headspace network, including in the Hawkesbury.”

Ms Templeman says if there is funding for a Hawkesbury Headspace it should be announced right now.

“Every single day that this government delays announcing a Headspace for the Hawkesbury - if that is their intention - is another day that kids' lives are put at risk.

“I welcome any additional funding for Katoomba Headspace, a service which has been open less than a year and is clearly insufficient as a satellite service. I'm looking forward to seeing what additional services that means it will be able to deliver.

“But hundreds of people have joined together with me to call for a Headspace service in the Hawkesbury now."

Senator Payne told the Post on Monday afternoon that through the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, the Morrison Government was "delivering the largest Commonwealth mental health investment in Australia’s history. This includes new funding to expand the national Headspace network".

"I strongly support the establishment of a Headspace service in the Hawkesbury," said Sen Payne, "and I note that the decisions on locations of new services are based on independent expert advice from Headspace National.

"As I have done previously, I will continue to work closely with key decision makers, including the CEO of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, Lizz Reay, in addition to other local stakeholders, to ensure that young people in the Hawkesbury region have access to appropriate supports," Sen Payne said.

Ms Templeman says, “If the Morrison Government has the money for a Headspace in the Hawkesbury they shouldn’t wait to time an announcement in an attempt to make a candidate look good, they should just make it happen.”

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