Jun 21, 2017

headspace Narre Warren & Dandenong Speech – 21 June 2017

I would like to talk about two headspace centres—one in Narre Warren and one in Dandenong—and to pay tribute to the young people of Casey, without whose efforts we would not have had those headspace centres. In 2011 and 2012 in and around my constituency we had what we call a suicide cluster, for want of a better term, of young people who were taking their own lives. The number of people hurting themselves and taking their own lives was of sufficient magnitude that in 2012 we commissioned a summit on youth suicide, which was led by Professor Pat McGorry. Four Corners filmed the summit and broadcast a wonderful program called ‘There is no 3G in Heaven’, which talked about the individual stories of parents who have lost their children and the impact of youth suicide on parents and families. It was traumatic for everyone who was involved.

The key driver of this, and the people I want to pay tribute to, were the young people from the Casey youth study tour, who drew this to my attention in early 2012. Some of those young people had been friends of those who had taken their own lives, and for those young people, through the auspices of the city of Casey study tour, to come into my office and talk about their individual experiences and talk about the loss of their peers and how that impacted on their lives was an incredible act of bravery, from what I could see. The fact that they wanted something done and their impetus, drive and enthusiasm were the main reasons we had this youth summit in August 2012 and for what it led to. Up until that period of time there were no headspace centres in the midst of this rather awful set of circumstances. As a consequence of their lobbying, there are now two headspace centres. That is overlaid with a youth early psychosis service that is run by Associate Professor Simon Stafrace from The Alfred hospital.

We talk about young people not having a say in politics anymore, not having any influence, but that is not true. Those headspace centres are testament to the young people who worked hard together; lobbied me, respectfully; lobbied others in the city of Casey; and auspiced this youth suicide summit in 2012. So to those young people who may or may not be watching, who think they are powerless and do not have a voice: that is not true. You have a voice, and your voice, particularly in the city of Casey, led to the creation of two headspace centres, and those two headspace centres and the early psychosis centre are saving lives. That is because of you young people and the work that you did to lobby for those services.


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