Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Health

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Doorstop - LaTrobe

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Topics: $4.8 million for mental health services in North West Tasmania; Bill Shorten’s cancelled business lunch in Devonport; Coastal Pathways project; an AFL team for Tasmania

Well it’s terrific to be in Latrobe and it’s terrific to have Minister Greg Hunt with me here at the Psychological CAFFE and with Tracey, and we’ll introduce more of Tracey’s involvement here shortly. So a fantastic day to talk about a government funding initiative to support mental health services here in the North West.

I’m really excited about this, it’s an area of need within this community right across the region and we want to put in place practical solutions that will mean more services, more access for entire families. Not just adults but children as well and so it’s a thrill to have Minister Greg Hunt here who’s been taking an interest in this matter since we raised it with him a number of weeks ago. And Greg, I’d love you to mention now what it is that we’re actually supporting.

Thanks very much to Brett and to Tracey. Mental health is a challenge in every community in Australia but we know from the work of the Primary Health Network and from the advocacy of Tracey and Brett Whiteley in particular that it’s a special need here on the North West. And so today I am delighted to announce that the Turnbull Government will contribute $4.8 million to mental health programs in the North West. That includes $1.6 million for Psychological CAFFE. This is four-year funding at $400,000 a year to allow them to employ extra psychologists, to have additional services, particularly outreach services, and to have the security of a long-term contract to attract staff. 

And the work they do is magnificent. We’ve met older Australians, we’ve met beautiful young kids, we’ve met mums today, all of whom are accessing the services of Psychological CAFFE. And you know, Tracey, your work is about saving lives and protecting lives. And if we can support that in some small way, I think that’s really powerful. Brett and Richard Colbeck advocated with enormous enthusiasm. 

In addition to the $1.6 million for Psychological CAFFE, there’s $2.4 million for mental health nurses for Devonport and the surrounding region, as well as $600,000 for psychological services within Burnie and then another $200,000 for supporting outreach services to King Island. 

So the whole of the North West will benefit, and at the end of the day, there are young children, there are adolescents and young families and then older Tasmanians who need these services and will benefit from them. It’s four-year funding and so it’s been designed with the community and for the community to, at the end of the day, ensure that more Tasmanians, more people in the North West have better services and it wouldn’t have happened without Tracey and it wouldn’t have happened without Grant. Tracey?

I’d like to thank Minister Hunt and candidate Whiteley and Senator Colbeck for their significant contribution to the North West and particularly to our families. CAFFE actually stands for Child Adolescent Family Friendly Environment and we have a team of clinicians servicing our North West. 

We’re really pleased that there’s a recognition that our community is going to need that support, particularly for our young people and we’re very grateful for the demonstration that you’ve listened to our community and that you're engaging with our community’s needs. So I look forward to increasing capacity, reducing waitlists and assisting the North West to reduce those statistics that we’re all invested in and making a difference.

How many people do you have trying to access your services at the moment?

We have over 200 GPs on the North West Coast. We have offices in Latrobe and in Alveston and in Burnie and in Devonport. We also travel to Smithton on the West Coast and we contract some of that to LP Health who have clinicians located on the West Coast. So a very large cross section of our population on the North West.

What kind of waitlists are there?  

We’ve had extensive waitlists for some time and lately that’s increased, hence my vocal requests to our local members because I think there’s a reduced stigma in accessing mental health services and an increased need, so both of those things together.

And do you think there’s increasing numbers in people with mental health or do you think it’s more just more people are talking about it and more people are seeking health?

I think it’s a little bit of both. I think our families are really in need and I think that their parents need the support, so we work holistically with the whole family.

All around Australia there are about 4 million people a year who have some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition and the best advice that we have is there’s a mixture of exactly those two things that Tracey set out. A greater underlying need, but also a greater willingness, which is the positive part of the equation, for people to seek that help. 
And today is about saying to people, it’s okay to seek help, it’s the right thing to seek help, this is a normal condition for any Australian. And also saying the services are here. When you’ve got the magnificent clinicians and psychologists who are part of the Psychological CAFFE network, you’re coming to a safe place, to a friendly place, and to somewhere where they can offer you help without judgment.


Minister, are those funds going to be contingent on Mr Whiteley’s election or are they going to run..

No, no. This is a commitment from the Government, I’ve signed off on the funding and it’s a commitment, it comes about because of Brett’s advocacy. I think without Brett arguing for and identifying the need and, along with Richard, introducing me to Tracey who was able to point to the Primary Health Network’s assessment, so hard data, but then to point to the work that they were doing, we may not have realised that this opportunity existed. So Brett made it possible but we’ll deliver it under every circumstance.

Minister what do you make of reports that Bill Shorten has reportedly struggled to fill seats at his luncheon today in Devonport?

Look Mr Shorten walked away from small business in Tasmania and small business has obviously walked away from him.

Do you think it shows that Labor’s struggling in the by-election campaign?

I think it shows that business doesn’t trust Bill Shorten and they know that he doesn’t believe in them and so they won’t believe in him. Okay, thank you very much.

Actually, Minister, just before you go, sorry - just a question about the AFL.

Oh, right.

Do you think Tasmania should have an AFL team?

I would love to see a Tasmanian AFL based team, so long as it’s not Richmond. So I barrack for the Tigers and the Tassie Tigers is a magnificent sounding team but they have to keep the MCG as their home. I think I’ll leave it to the AFL to determine but I think the- one of the great sporting stories in Australia has been the expansion of the AFL and there’s a missing piece to that puzzle, and that missing piece is Tasmania. That’s just a personal view, I’m not the sports minister and they’re a sovereign entity in their own right but I would love to see an AFL team based here in Tassie.

Mr Whiteley, just one question for you.What do you make of Labor’s commitment to the Coastal Pathways project this morning?

Look, the Coastal Pathways is a project that I’ve supported for many years. It’s a huge project, it’s made up of many components and I think today what we’ve seen is another piece of tricky footwork from Bill Shorten and the Labor Party. They’ve announced, I think very misleadingly, $8.8 million when in fact the money that they’re talking about is $4 million. 

We promised $4.8 million only weeks ago when Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann was here. Our money is real money. You don’t have to elect Bill Shorten twice to actually get the money. So I welcome everyone’s interest in it. I continue to talk to all stakeholders, which are obviously mostly local government areas. It’s a tremendous project. We continue to talk with all stakeholders and, as I said, we made an announcement of real money, deliverable money, of $4.8 million just a few weeks ago.

Great, thank you very much.


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