Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health – 6 February 2024

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister McBride's speech at the ABC Heywire Regional Youth Summit Parliamentary Lunch, Parliament House, Canberra.

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

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Hosts: For the topics that we have been tackling, what better champion to have with us here today then the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, and also Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, the Honourable, and like fabulously dressed, Emma McBride, Please welcome her to the stage.

Assistant Minister McBride: Good afternoon everybody and thank you to Taz and Em, and I think I might have to talk to clothing the gap.

I'd also like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and to extend that respect to all First Nations people with us today, and to elder's past, present and emerging.

To the many colleagues in the room and Senator Bridget McKenzie here. I know that across the parliament, there has been such strong supporters of Heywire for over 25 years. 

This is such an exciting occasion, first and foremost, to each of you, the current winners of Heywire and trailblazers, congratulations. You are now part of Heywire history. 

The ABC and the Australian Government started Heywire 25 years ago, I'm sure before most of you were born. It was an important initiative at the time, and I'm sure everyone agrees, it just keeps getting better – more relevant, more informative, and such an important place to raise the voices of young people with the addition of the FRRR youth innovation grants and the trailblazers programs.

You join an outstanding group of winners over decades. But none are just like you. Every one of you is unique and every one of you has a story to tell, a project to drive to give us as Australians a deeper understanding of you and your lives, of the problems you face, and in the places that you live.

Understanding is important because it closes gaps. It bridges understanding and it makes it possible for us to work together to find youth led solutions. 

And it's no surprise given my responsibilities for mental health and suicide prevention and rural and regional health, but I'm particularly pleased and excited about what you're doing to promote better health, especially mental health and wellbeing for young people. And it's a genuine privilege when I have the chance in this role to visit communities right around the country to meet with young people to hear from them directly in their communities, in their voices, and you are amplifying those voices. 

A number of you Heywire winners have shared your own experiences, your courage, your bravery, which is paving the path for others making it that bit easier. And beyond that, I believe each of you are helping to create happier, healthier futures for young people living outside of our major cities. 

It's well accepted now that our health is influenced by many factors in our lives which are traditionally what you would consider health issues – being able to see a doctor or nurse is of course important, but it's not the end of the story. Individuals need support and so do their communities. You know that, you've lived it, you understand it. And you can define community by shared places, common experiences, or shared causes. 

It's very clear from your stories in your projects that you collectively have the potential and are making an impact through your resilience, your courage, your beliefs, your acceptance and your drive for real change. Having those difficult conversations. By raising your voices you lift and inspire young people in rural and remote Australia and around the country. 

By planning and carrying out your projects you create optimism, you grow social connection, the foundations for real change and good mental health. 

So as I said, we have much to celebrate – your stories in your words. You are extraordinary individuals with an extraordinary contribution to make on behalf of young people right around Australia. So thank you and congratulations.

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