Doorstop, Burwood NSW

11 Jun 2019
Burwood, NSW
Prime Minister

DR FIONA MARTIN, MEMBER FOR REID: Welcome to Burwood Girls High School. I'm Fiona Martin the Liberal Member for Reid and it's wonderful to be here this morning and to hear about the wonderful work of batyr, an organization that fosters resilience in young people and teaches young people to reach out, to speak up to help each other and to support each other to combat mental health issues in young people. And as a psychologist, I am very proud to be part of a government who invests so much in mental health services, and I'm going to hand it over not to the Honourable Scott Morrison, Prime Minister. Thank you very much for coming to Reid.

PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you Fiona. It's great to be here with Greg Hunt the Health Minister, and it is wonderful here at Port Phillip High School. And particularly to be here and to have been part of the work of batyr, which is reaching out to young people all across the country to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst young people. And to help connect them to each other into the services that are available. To build resilience and to support them as they grow and they develop and they take up their place outside of school and out there in the community. And it was a real privilege to listen to the stories and to hear of the tools and the devices that are made available and that's why, as part of our more than half a billion dollar program to combat youth mental health issues and particularly youth suicide, we've included that $2.78 million dollars to support the work of batyr.

What I'd really like to commend - and Sebastian is here who founded batyr - and all of those who work in this programme is how well it connects to the many other services. Here today we talked about the Headspace services that are available not far from here in Ashfield, which I visited with Fiona just some weeks ago when we launched this particular overall package on mental health for young people. And so connecting up to those services and being aware of the symptoms and signs in others and being attentive that, to listening, and to showing that community support, is a big part of how we will address and combat this issue of youth suicide. But it also goes to the combating issues and dealing with issues of mental health more generally in our community. And not only is it an urgency issue to address the issue of youth suicide in our country, which I've described as a curse, and a curse that has to be broken. But also it's important we address these issues, whether they exist in Indigenous communities, where we know the issue is particularly prolific, but also in the mental health of our veterans, and the very concerning situation of the mental health challenges faced by our veterans. And there are significant services that are provided, whether it's in mental health support to young people, or to people in Indigenous communities, or indeed our veterans.

But still it is the case that people are taking their own lives and are finding the stresses and strains and the mental health issues that they're combating too much. And so as Australians, it's our job to reach out to them and ensure that they can connect to those services, and that those services are in the places and are delivered in a way that can make a big difference. You know, for all of us if we're sick physically, if you walk into a doctor and you've got chest pains and a sore left arm, you know you've got to get help. You know that you're not well and you'll reach out to find those services. But when it comes to mental health, sometimes we're unaware of those signs and we're unaware of those signs in each other. And so it's important we're alert to those and in the same way we would reach out and seek to connect with health services when we're suffering from a physical health condition, we need to do the same ourselves and for each other when it comes to mental health. And I want to commend Greg Hunt for the great work he has done in pulling together our mental health package for young people, and particularly addressing youth suicide. I ask Greg to make a few comments and then we're happy to take some questions. Greg.

THE HON GREG HUNT MP, MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks very much to the Prime Minister, and Fiona, and to everybody here today. Today is about hope. It's about saving lives and it's about protecting lives. What we saw with the stories of Liv, and Malaika, and Josh's words, was reaching out to these magnificent young women and saying mental health and suicidality can strike any one of us. Any one of us, anywhere in Australia, at any time. It's part of being human. It's not just part of being young but it's particularly something that can affect young minds and young lives. And so the work of the batyr is part of a much broader plan. It’s part of a youth mental health and suicide prevention plan which is aimed at saying to each of these magnificent young people your lives matter and you can seek help. What you're going through is normal. It can affect you, any of us. In our family, it was my mother who battled with a crushing illness. But each of us knows that what we're going through can be immensely painful, but we're not alone. That's the message today. We are not alone. And so by supporting batyr as they move from face-to-face to also being able to provide online resources, is about saying there's a much broader national plan; for youth mental health, for suicide prevention, for mental health, and whether it's Lifeline, whether it's the work of headspace, whether it's the work of Beyond Blue, or batyr - we're here to help, we're here to provide the support, but above all else, when you see the stories of Liv and Malaika, you see courage and you see a pathway that each of you can follow when you most need it.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Greg. So, happy to take questions. Why don't we start with the issue we've come here to talk about today but happy to obviously go to other matters.

JOURNALIST: Do you need to take a step back and take a deeper look at youth mental health through some sort of inquiry or commission?

PRIME MINISTER: Well there has been a large amount of work that's been done. We currently have a Productivity Commission inquiry into the broader mental health challenges underway at the moment and that will report back in the middle of next year. But working with my ministers and many of my members in the government, including Fiona, we are upgrading our plans in this area leaving no stone unturned. To ensure that not only that all the services are there where they need to be, but there is an outreach capability to connect people to those services. When we were at the Ashfield Headspace a few weeks back, one of the key points that was made to me by the young people who were working there that a big part of their job now is outreach. To be out there in the shopping centres, in the sporting fields, in the communities reaching out to young people, just like batyr is here in terms of connecting people's services. So there are a large array of services out there, and we need to make sure that they're up to standard. But the real challenge is connecting people to those services and assisting them to understand when they need that help. And that's where a lot of our focus will be and we'll continue to put the investment in and leave no stone unturned. And I've got to say, particularly also in relation to veterans.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, nobody is above the law, as you have pointed out. How do you tolerate a situation where the Solicitor General in his written advice says there is ‘some risk’ that your Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is not eligible to be in the Parliament as there are constitutional questions? Are you going to resolve that question about Peter Dutton by sending it to the High Court?

PRIME MINISTER: No, look I don't accept that there's any issue in relation to Mr Dutton. Those matters have been addressed in the past and they are resolved. So no, I'm not troubled about those issues.

JOURNALIST: Should John Setka resign?


JOURNALIST: Should John Setka resign?

PRIME MINISTER: Of course he should and he should have a long time ago. But I can tell you… I mean, they can root out one Labor thug in the union movement, but there's plenty more where John Setka came from. Because the CFMMEU is one of the most litigated against and charged unions in the country. Their charge sheet is longer than your arm. And John Setka is just one of many.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] meeting with Ita Buttrose this afternoon, what are you seeking to achieve from that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well this is a scheduled meeting with Ita. This is the first meeting we've had post the election and it was actually scheduled before more recent events. So, I'm sure that Ita and I will have a broad ranging conversation about how what she's been doing since taking on the role of Chair of the ABC. I was absolutely thrilled that Ita took up my invitation to Chair the ABC, and one of the reasons why I asked her to do that job, is because I know that she will speak frankly and candidly, and that she will lead strongly. And so I look forward to our regular conversations.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the array of so called congestion busting projects that were promised in the lead up to the election - is it fair that your Government is judged on delivering those?

PRIME MINISTER: Well of course, on all of our commitments. And that's why I've already met with the Premiers of both Victoria and New South Wales to ensure that we can move quickly to be delivering on these projects. And so we've got a process in place to do just that.

JOURNALIST: So which projects do you plan to roll out and when?

PRIME MINISTER: Well all of the ones we announced during the election.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns by the statement from Senator Patrick that he feels that there was an attempt to intimidate him by the Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo?

PRIME MINISTER: I do find those things concerning, and the Home Affairs Minister and I have discussed that and the Home Affairs Minister has had an appropriate conversation with the Secretary.

JOURNALIST: Has he reigned in the Secretary, is the purpose of that conversation?

PRIME MINISTER: I have given you my answer.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will you support a parliamentary inquiry into press freedom?

PRIME MINISTER: Well what I'm going to do on this issue is listen carefully. I think we have to keep these matters in perspective. The laws that were introduced more recently were not the ones that were the subject of the recent [inaudible] They were the subject of the laws that were in existence back in 2013. And so there are additional protections that have been built into those new laws, and I think it's important that we honour two principles, and that is that no one's above the law - as Hugh has just reminded us - and that also, that press freedoms are central to our democracy. And if there is a suggestion, or evidence, or any analysis, that reveals that there is a need for further improvement of those laws, well the Government is always open to that. But it's important that we honour both of those principles and I intend to proceed calmly, and soberly, and consultatively.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe there needs to be better whistleblower protections?

PRIME MINISTER: Sorry, I couldn’t hear you Hugh.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe there needs to be better whistleblower protections, particularly in the public service, when you situations where public servants can face lengthy times in jail for what might be called ‘good faith’ whistleblowing?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is something that is that is regularly looked at, Hugh, and in the course of looking at any of these issues that's something that would be a topic of review. But it is also important that we balance the issues of; national security, the primacy of our laws, and that no one stands above them, whether they're politicians, or journalists, or editors, or anyone else. And that the Rule of Law applies to everybody in this country, and I think Australians fully understand that and they expect great things of all of us, whether politicians or media alike, and we need to live up to those standards.

But today, what I'm talking about here, is the Government getting back to work on delivering on our commitments. And those commitments, most significantly, were in the area of taking action on youth mental health and suicide prevention. This is an important part of what will be our Government's focus over the next three years. This is one of those essential services that Australians rely on, and we all have a role to play in looking after each other when it comes to our mental health, and making sure that we're connecting each other to services where they are needed, and keeping an eye on each other, and asking that simple question as we do each year, ‘Are you OK?’ And are following through as good communities do. Thank you all very much.