SPEECH - MARIST 180 WELLBEING SOLUTIONS LAUNCH - 19 MAY 2017

Good morning. Can I first acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their Elders, both past and present.

Thank you to the team at Marist 180 for having me here today. 

It is a great pleasure to attend the official launch of 180 Wellbeing Solutions as the Member for Greenway. This is a great initiative situated right in the heart of Blacktown.

Can I acknowledge the special guests here with us:

-      Chris Gandy, CEO Marist 180

-      John Robertson, State Member for Blacktown

-      Councillor Kathy Collins, Blacktown City Council

-      And Tanya Davies, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Women and Minister for Ageing

Western Sydney is a wonderfully diverse community: In Blacktown alone, over one third of residents speak a language other than English at home. Not only this, we also have a growing youth population.

Whether it is Western Sydney’s relatively young population, it’s culturally and linguistically diverse population, or those who are struggling with economic stresses, Western Sydney needs and deserves tailored mental health care that the community can easily access.

That is why it is so pleasing to see Marist 180 establish 180 Wellbeing Solutions – a service which promises affordability and importantly, accessibility.

180 Wellbeing Solutions builds on Marist 180’s many years of service to the people of Western Sydney and the strong local networks and partnerships that it has established.

The Marist community has a fine history of charity and service to the community, throughout Australia and across the globe.

This new service addresses one of the very real barriers preventing people getting the mental health care they need; accessibility – that’s why this service is so important and has so much potential.

Delivering services close to the people who need them is essential in improving access to mental health services in Western Sydney.

Having Psychologists, Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists, together in the same location provides a one-stop shop with easier access to the services that people need.  

The availability of these key services, once considered too expensive, in an accessible service is a marker of how far we have come to recognise mental health as a real and pressing concern.

We now understand the role of these services in helping those with mental health problems to receive prompt effective treatment.

Here’s what we know about Mental Health in Australia today:

That 1 in 3 Australians will experience concerns with their mental health.

That in each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. 

And that 45% of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their lives; that is nearly half of the people in this room today.

Access to mental health support services should not be a luxury and that is why we are so pleased to see this service offer a bulk-billing option for people on low incomes.

Importantly, in the Marist spirit, 180 Wellbeing Solutions, uses a strengths-based approach that focuses on what people can do rather what they cannot do.

This approach is about empowering people and equipping them to draw on local support to become independent.

Furthermore, this service will play an important role in educating the community about mental health. It is incumbent on all of us to help break the stigma associated with mental illnesses.

Marist 180 has been helping to break down this stigma through education and advocacy and I thank the Marist 180 team for those efforts. 

One of the best ways to combat stigma is education, and events like today are important catalysts for conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

We can show our support as individuals, and a society, by voicing our support for services like the one being launched today.

Talking openly about mental health and its’ treatment has the immensely positive effect of alleviating the pressure that stigma has on those who are struggling.

In many instances it can be a conversation with a loved one or a trusted friend that that prompts someone to seek professional help when they need it.

We should treat mental health with the same priority that we treat our physical health, and we must continue to get this message across, especially to young people. 

It is important that more young people seek help for mental health issues early on, just like any other kind of illness.   

Early prevention and intervention can save lives and improve outcomes in young people dramatically. The earlier someone can get access to help, the less the impact of disruption to school or work will be.

Many people find it hard to seek help while they are working or studying, so it is important that services are available locally. Marist 180 found 1 in 5 people continue to work through long-term mental health problems.

This is an issue that Wellbeing Solutions will directly address.

This new service specialises in helping young people reach their goals. They assist high school and tertiary students to cope with a variety of challenges: like trauma, mood disorders, addiction and personality disorders.

I am pleased to see mental health continues to be prioritised in Western Sydney and hope to continue to see services like Marist 180 champion these issues.

It is also pleasing to see that 180 Wellbeing Solutions will complement the services provided through the Wentwest Primary Health Network.

Local Health Networks have a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of their communities and Wentwest are delivering exciting new initiatives including the Recovery College and Stepped Care Services.

Like many residents of Western Sydney I am delighted when I see new services emerging to support our wonderful community.

It is more important than ever that services like 180 Wellbeing Solutions exist. The most important thing we can do for people who are experiencing a mental illness is let them know that there’s help available.

It fills me with a sense to pride to know we have a community here in Blacktown that is committed to helping combat mental illness.

I congratulate Chris and the whole team at Marist 180 on the Launch of Marist 180 Wellbeing Solutions and wish you all the best for the future.