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Mental Health

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The Youth Coalition asked parties and independent candidates about their policies on mental health. We asked:
- How will you improve services and supports to assist young people with mental illness?
- How will you address gaps in the mental health system?

The full responses we received from parties and independent candidates are below. 
Click here to download the short snapshot of their policies on mental health.

ACT Greens

The Greens want the ACT to be place where wellbeing is prioritised, quality mental health services are easily available and everyone has access to the treatment and support that they need when they need it.
Unfortunately, there has been chronic under-investment in the mental health sector, which has resulted in the system failing to meet the needs of many Canberrans. This is why we have always made mental health a priority issue in the ACT Legislative Assembly, securing tens of millions of dollars in additional investments through our Parliamentary Agreements since 2008.
In spite of that, more needs to be done to ensure that mental health prevention and primary care is accessible for the everyone who needs it. We need to support programs that contribute to wellbeing, to early identification of the signs of mental illness, to stepped intervention and treatment, to peer support and to recovery that meets the needs of people who have low to medium levels of mental illness. This way we can provide support and care before their health worsens and becomes critical. We also believe that consumers and carers need to be supported to play a major role in policy and program development.
The Greens are committed to an investment in the mental health of Canberrans, which would not only meet their immediate needs but would reduce their need for high-intensities into the future.

ACT Labor

The mental health of young Australians is a big issue: we know that around 1 in 4 young Australians are currently experiencing a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians – the statistics tell us that it accounts for more deaths than car accidents.

The way that we talk about mental health in our community is changing, and that’s a good thing. Removing the stigma and having honest conversations is an important part of building a better approach to mental health in our city. Organisations like headspace Canberra are doing great work in supporting our young people to be happier and healthier.

I believe that the government also has an important role to play in tackling the issue of youth mental health in the community. I want young people in Canberra know that they can get help when they need it. My government is taking several steps to make sure that there is strong support that is easily available.

Earlier this year, the ACT Government’s new Mental Health ACT came into effect. The purpose of this new legislation is to give people with a mental illness living in Canberra and their families a better opportunity to contribute to decisions about their support and care.

These reforms create a fresh approach to delivering mental health services; they put a focus on empowering people in our community with mental illnesses and helps them with self-management and recovery.

This year my government is putting an extra $50 million into mental health funding. This includes $3 million towards establishing a specific Young People’s Mental Health Treatment Team for young Canberrans who are experiencing, or are at a high risk of developing, a serious mental illness. 

Canberra Liberals

The Canberra Liberals are acutely aware of the significant gaps in the mental health space, particularly for young people. The Liberals spokesperson on mental health, Giulia Jones initiated an inquiry into youth suicide in the ACT Legislative Assembly to find out what is needed at a local government level to address the mental health needs of young people.

More announcements will be made on this as we get closer to the ACT election. 

Independent Candidates

Joel McKay, Independent Candidate for Brindabella

I believe the ACT Government needs to lobby the Commonwealth Government and explore the option of setting up a national taskforce on mental health. Representatives from all State and Territory Governments could meet annually to undertake national benchmarking, quality assurance, and service analysis.

A national taskforce would ensure gaps in the mental health system are identified early and resources are allocated where necessary. The annual meetings would also allow Government representatives to learn from each other’s failures and success. Sharing information at a national level will allow Government’s to tailor mental health services more accurately, and provide an understanding of the level of funding required across the country.

If elected, I will encourage the ACT Government to take the lead on establishing a national taskforce into mental health, and lobby the Commonwealth Government to work closer with its State and Territory counterparts.


The above information was provided by the parties and/or candidates listed, and authorised for publication on this website by Emma Robertson, Youth Coalition of the ACT