Young must have their say

BORDER youth concerned about mental health have been given a voice in Canberra.

That follows the launch this week of the Parliamentary Friends of Young People and Mental Health.

The member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, is one of four members of the group, working to help policy makers better target healthcare.

“We looked at the mental health plan for Australia and found there’s no rural component,” Ms McGowan said yesterday from Canberra.

She said she had met South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright soon after she arrived in Canberra after her election win last year.

“She’d done quite a lot of work around young rural people and mental health and produced a document about it,” she said.

“She proposed that we and Dan Tehan, who is the Liberal member for Wannon, and another senator (Labor’s Louise Pratt from Western Australia) form the group.”

About 100 parliamentarians and representatives of interest groups attended the launch on Tuesday.

Youth mental health expert Patrick McGorry was a guest speaker.

“I was really pleased to be a part of it because I’ve got an interest in young people anyhow,” Ms McGowan said.

“If I can, in these three years of Parliament, somehow advance the cause of young people and mental health I’d be really pleased.”

Ms McGowan said there was a clear need for a major policy review.

“There’s a lot of money being spent on all sorts of mental health programs,” she said.

“And there clearly is a lot of work that needs to be done to make it more effective.”

Ms McGowan said the group wanted young people to be heard.

“I will take some young people from Indi to Parliament,” she said.

“And when we’ve worked it out, there will be an opportunity for them and other young people from around Australia to talk about their experiences and talk to the policy-makers and the service providers.”

Ms McGowan said transport, service provision and appropriate care were big issues in Indi.

“There’s numerous stories, not just Wodonga and Wangaratta but up the valleys, where young people go for specialised care, then head back home again,” she said.

Once they returned home, they lacked access to that same support.

“Designing service delivery that meet the needs of rural, as opposed to urban in Wodonga, is where I’m really confident I can get those issues heard,” Ms McGowan said.