Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 19 October 2016
Parliamentary Record 1
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
pp 65 to 124
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 19 October 2016 118 immunisations and check-ups. We have fabulous child health nurses; we need to give parents the tools to engage with them. Keeping our loved ones healthy and strong is a high priority, particularly when we look at the challenge we face with suicide prevention and the devastating impact suicide has on our families and communities. Tragically, the Northern Territory suicide rate is almost twice the national average. There were 54 deaths from suicide in the Northern Territory in 2014; 54 people taken from their families. Sadly, people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage continue to be heavily overrepresented in those statistics. Our non-Aboriginal standardised suicide rate is 13.8 deaths per hundred thousand compared with 34.9 per hundred thousand among Territorians of Aboriginal heritage. We cannot let this continue. As a government we have a strong commitment to halving our high suicide rate within 10 years as part of our strengthening mental health strategy. I am pleased to have the assistant minister for suicide prevention, mental health and disability, the Member for Karama, assisting me to turn this tragic figure around. The Member for Karama comes into this Chamber highly regarded for her tireless efforts in her community with community-based initiatives for suicide prevention. Her vast knowledge and association with pioneers in this area will assist our government greatly in our ability to achieve this goal. The Department of Health will work with the assistant minister to lead the development of a whole-ofgovernment response to suicide prevention. We need to engage across the Territory with the Mental Health Coalition, general practitioners and service providers. Without that engagement with the wider community the risk of suicide is too great for Territorians. We need to turn those statistics around. We will actively seek the views of people within the community who have lived and experienced suicide, those who have lost people too soon. We will have a strategic and carefully planned way to prevent suicide and will deliver actions across that work. One of the programs I am most excited about is $3m over the next four years to help develop a mental health housing accommodation support initiative. It is well known that people at risk, or with mental illness, are far more likely to have insecure accommodation and experience homelessness. Recognising this, our government is working to provide linked clinical services and tenancy assistance, along with personal supports. We are hoping this new initiative will help break the cycle of homelessness and assist individuals to obtain and remain in stable accommodation. This is a very important issue and something I have been dealing with in my community. I know all members in this parliament will be dealing with it across their communities. In turn, this program will help people access the required healthcare and prevent the exacerbation of their illness. It provides the best opportunity for progress along their recovery journey from mental illness or drug and alcohol problems. I am also very fortunate to be working alongside the Member for Arafura, the assistant minister for remote health delivery, who brings a wealth of experience of both living and working in remote communities and delivering health outcomes. His knowledge and ability to strengthen our approach and inclusion of communities in our decision-making will greatly assist us in our plan to build local control. I am excited about that opportunity. We had the opportunity, prior to the election, to visit a community, and I could see the strengths of the assistant minister. Our government will increase communities control of their health services to engage and enable community management of local primary health services delivering culturally appropriate, responsive and safe healthcare. Aboriginal communities have the right to participate in the decision-making that affects their lives, health and wellbeing. Not all communities will have the same aspirational capability to manage the planning and development of primary healthcare and family services for their community. However, all communities should be given an opportunity to make the choice and be supported in realising their aspirations. With the assistant ministers support, communities can start the process and make essential contributions through a health advisory group. Our government will continue to work with the Australian Government to identify funding opportunities for Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to help implement this policy. One of the major changes we will see impacting on the health sector is the ongoing rollout across the Territory and Australia of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for eligible Territorians with a disability.
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