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Interview with Meshel Laurie on ABC Melbourne

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview with Meshel Laurie on ABC Melbourne regarding $47 million for headspace to support youth mental health and beyondblue.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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We welcome to the program Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt. Hi Greg.


Good morning, Meshel.


Hey, great news today. Can you please tell the listeners who haven’t caught up with it yet about the funding for headspace.


So $47m for headspace and that’s for training, for research but in particular for a Young Ambassadors’ Program.

So amazing young people such as Beau Vernon, he is a quadriplegic.

He was the coach of the Leongatha and Phillip Island Football Clubs in the last two seasons, took them each to premierships.

He’s obviously had his own challenges after a footy accident gave him quadriplegia. And he is an inspiring speaker and he’ll be one of the young people we have as ambassadors to talk about mental health challenges, to help other people see that there’s a way through.

Niharika Hiremath a young woman of Indian origin, based in Melbourne. She’s had anxiety and depression, brilliant, amazing speaker, engaging and warm personality.

Yet for young people to be able to work with young people, to see that it can happen to anybody but to know that there’s a way through, that’s what supporting headspace is all about.


Headspace is a service that was created in 2006 and since then, they have treated about 50,000 young Australians between the ages of 12 and 25 with mental health issues ranging from sort of lower level to very much complex mental health problems such as eating disorders and psychosis. It’s an incredibly important thing isn’t it? And we’re so fortunate to have it.


Yeah. Now headspace is actually one of the world’s leading services and Pat McGorry, I think most Australians would be well aware of Pat, a former Australian of the Year.

What he has done is really say: mental health can strike anybody. We know one in four young Australians can be hit by mental health challenges in any one year and we need the services and we need to say there’s no stigma attached.

This is normal and it’s part of life and if we can have the services and we can have the support, people have a way through. And that’s where the support for headspace and the support for the youth ambassadors is absolutely critical.


We’re talking to Greg Hunt the Federal Minister for Health who is this morning announcing a massive injection of funding for headspace, which is fantastic particularly as a couple of years ago, there was a lot of concern about the future of headspace.

In fact Chris Tanti, who was the foundation CEO of headspace resigned in 2016 and he accused the Turnbull Government of turning its back on headspace and was saying that that government had withdrawn funding and that he was worried that headspace would no longer exist. So to what do you attribute the turnaround in interest, I guess, in headspace?


Well I know it’s something that for me on my watch because of my own family’s journey; I’ve talked before about my mother’s battle with bipolar. It’s a deep, strong, personal passion.

We’ve now invested $208m in Headspace across three different announcements for youth psychosis, for e-headspace and more Headspace centres and now for the improved training, the youth mental health programs, the youth ambassadors, the research.

So it’s a deep, long-held personal passion for me. It is for the Prime Minister, for Scott Morrison. Scott is very engaged in this and so it’s our watch and our time now and this is what we’re doing under our leadership.


Gosh. You must understand though the frustration for people who work in the sector that as different ministers come and go and different governments come and go and things change, the funding comes, the funding goes.

So they try and implement plans and implement future planning and they just never really know from one minute to the next whether they’re going to be in or out of fashion.


Well, what we’ve done is addressed precisely that question of long term funding now out to 2023, so mid-2023.

So for four and a half years, we’ve got very, very clear funding and that is a recognition of the work of headspace, it’s a recognition of the commitment of Scott Morrison and myself and the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

So, this is something that really matters and on our watch, in our times, headspace will be front and centre.


Can I ask you a question, Greg Hunt, on behalf on a texter, please?


Sure, of course.


Greg Hunt, federal Minister of Health, has joined us and he’s talking about a fantastic injection of funding into headspace for the mental health of young Australians.

On the SMS: what about all the hundreds of thousands of adults who are left with zero support as the NDIS won’t cover that? Much bigger problem than funding youth, says a texter.


So all up, we contribute about $4.7 billion to mental health right across Australia.

We have recently announced very significant funding for beyondblue. We’ve also added funding for eating disorders, $110 million for eating disorders, and the investment with beyondblue was in particular for anxiety and depression for Australians of all ages.

So it’s a very, very significant process for me, whether it’s young people, whether it’s adults through the working years, or whether it’s people who are in their senior years, we’re investing in and focusing on mental health resources for them.

Look, the truth is it can strike anybody at any time; fame, fortune, sporting ability, other things – none of those insulate people. It’s something that crosses all ages, all demographics, all divides.

And we need to be upfront about this as a country and if we can acknowledge that it is a normal part of life and have the services, then we’ll go a huge way towards addressing the challenge.


And as the Health Minister with a particular personal interest and personal passion for mental health, and a personal background with mental health, how does that affect you when you’re in the party room and other polices are being discussed that have effects on people’s mental health?

When people talk about the marriage equality plebiscite, the asylum-seeker policies, things like that and the mental health of children on Nauru, and things like that, how does that affect you when you’re voting and thinking about other policy?


Oh, look, I take consideration of it all of the time. I think the - and you and I may well disagree on this - the plebiscite will be seen as perhaps the most significant moment in final total complete acceptance and recognition of same-sex couples, let alone same-sex marriage when over 62 per cent of Australians said we support same-sex marriage, and it was far more valuable than a vote in the Parliament, in my view.

This, as many young people, as many people of a different sexuality have said to me: hey, I wasn’t so sure about it but you know what, total acceptance. And the.


But do you feel like we have to sort of sacrifice the mental health of some gay and lesbian, trans people to get that acceptance?


Look, I respectfully disagree on that. I think that to have a country as a whole come and settle this question rather than a divided parliamentary debate where everybody got a say, where it meant that there was an overwhelming majority - and I was one of the campaigners for the yes votes - an overwhelming majority that said yes.

And then everybody else as a result accepted the democratic process and accepted the social change, it embedded it forever. And that was a signature moment in Australian history, in my view.


Thank you so much for joining us, Health Minister Greg Hunt, who has today unveiled a $47 million funding boost into the mental health of young Australians and into headspace, which has got to be a great result for everybody. Thank you, sir.


Thanks a lot.

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