Macquarie MP calls on Federal Government to fund Hawkesbury Headspace service

Up and running: Katoomba Headspace, the early intervention mental health service for 12 to 25-year-olds. To sign the petition calling for the creation of a Hawkesbury Headspace visit tinyurl.com/4kfh6xv5.
Up and running: Katoomba Headspace, the early intervention mental health service for 12 to 25-year-olds. To sign the petition calling for the creation of a Hawkesbury Headspace visit tinyurl.com/4kfh6xv5.

A petition calling on the Federal Government to fund a Headspace service in the Hawkesbury to improve access to mental health help for young people, has been started by Macquarie MP Susan Templeman.

Ms Templeman said it was sparked out of frustration after no funding for a Hawkesbury service was identified in this year's spend-heavy Federal Budget.

"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," she 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."

Ms Templeman said a Headspace service for the Hawkesbury shouldn't be delayed for use as an election promise.

"We all know how few mental health services there are in the Hawkesbury," she said. "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."

Liberal Senator Marise Payne said that through the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, the Federal Government will be delivering the largest Commonwealth mental health investment in Australia's history.

"This includes new funding to expand the national headspace network," she said.

"I strongly support the establishment of a headspace service in the Hawkesbury, 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."