Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention - Speech - 14 February 2023

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister McBride's speech on the opening of Head to Health Canberra.

The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health

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I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet – the Ngunnawal People.

I extend that respect to all First Nations People with us today, and pay my respects to Elders past, present, and emerging.

In doing so, I recognise the gap in health outcomes for First Nations people, and not just in remote communities.

That’s why I’m proud to be part of a government that’s committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in full. Voice, Treaty, and Truth.

Just yesterday at Parliament House we marked the 15th anniversary of the National Apology to Indigenous People.

And while that was, in the words of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the "first step", we still have many more steps to take, the next practical step being a Voice to Parliament.

I also want to acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them.

I acknowledge the contributions you have made yourself, in the community or as part of our very valued mental health workforce.

The Albanese Government is committed to improving the mental health of all Australians.

We’re adopting a whole of government, community-led approach to mental health and well-being, which recognises the social determinants of health.

Our approach is evidence based and will embed lived experience in leadership and decision making.

We’re also determined to make mental health care accessible and affordable to everyone, wherever they live.

For years people have been falling through the gaps in mental health services.

Missing out on help because it’s too hard to get an appointment, or too expensive, or they think it’s not going to help them.

That happens here in Canberra, as well as many other places across Australia, and it isn’t good enough.

That’s where Head to Health comes in.

Fully funded by the Australian Government. Free to access. No appointment needed—just walk in.

Canberra Head to Health was one of first eight centres set up to trial the concept of providing immediate support and follow-up for people presenting in crisis, as well as short to medium term care for people with moderate to severe mental health needs.

Head to Health services in Canberra initially opened in December 2021 at a temporary site in Deakin.

Since then, it’s more than proven the value of the model, with over 900 clinical sessions delivered for over 150 people and a range of innovative programs available to people in the Canberra region.

Based on the success of the trial sites, the Government is expanding the national network of community-based Head to Health adult mental health services over the next four years.

I’m delighted to be able to officially open this Head to Health service today in its permanent location here in Civic.

Some people will come here as their first step towards better mental health and wellbeing.

Others because they’re in crisis and they know this is a safe place.

Word is still spreading about Head to Health—and I expect the year ahead will be a busy one.

None of this would be possible without the staff led by Vanessa and Jason and the leadership team, Liz, Angela, Caitlin, Kate and Sarah.

Every one of you can be proud of your hard work and commitment to supporting the people of Canberra.

You are what makes this Head to Health service a safe and welcoming place for everyone.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved—from me, the Government, and the people of Canberra.

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