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Question Time - Northern Beaches Youth Mental Health Services

My question is directed to the Minister for Health representing the Minister for Youth and Minister for Mental Health. When can the northern beaches community expect a decision about the full delivery of enhanced youth mental health services committed by the previous New South Wales Government over 1½ years ago, including acute paediatric mental health beds at the Northern Beaches Hospital?


Mr RYAN PARK (KeiraMinister for Health, Minister for Regional Health, and Minister for the Illawarra and the South Coast) (11:28): I thank the member for his question. I am honoured to represent the Minister for Mental Health and a range of other portfolios—including Youth, Homelessness and Housing—in this place. On behalf of her, I express my thanks for the way the member has engaged with, advocated for and fought for his community. As a first time MP, he is doing a fantastic job. The people he represents are lucky to have him in our oldest Parliament. There were some existing challenges around mental health services when we came into government, particularly in the northern beaches. I start by talking about the Northern Beaches Hospital. The hospital's model has not worked for the community. We will not be doing that type of healthcare service again. There were a number of members on this side of the Chamber who fought very hard. Thankfully, with a new Minister we were able to change that approach. We will not be going back to that previous approach.

In relation to the dedicated unit, I will give the member for Wakehurst an update on where that is at. Around 27 July this year the Minister for Mental Health provided Healthscope with a period of eight weeks to get back to her on the way in which those health services will be delivered. Healthscope, which runs Northern Beaches Hospital, was unable to present a plan that was acceptable to the Minister and the community. The mental health division of NSW Health has again looked at what we can do on the ground to improve capital and service delivery and the way in which we might roll those services out more broadly. I am very glad to say I have had a number of discussions with staff at the office of the Minister for Mental Health about the issue because the member for Wakehurst has raised it previously. I know that she and her staff have been engaging with the member, the Federal member and, importantly, stakeholders and community members around what those services might look like. I can update the House that the Minister has received a range of different options around both capital and service delivery of mental health services in the northern beaches area. [Extension of time]

There is nothing that is completely ideal yet. I will go to that in a minute. In relation to what those initiatives might look like, she is likely to hand down something towards the end of this year. We still have a situation where there are four beds. Two of them are in an adult ward. They are special, meaning one-to-one care. Two are in a paediatric ward. I am very aware and accept that that is not an ideal model. But I assure the community of a couple of things. We are focused on developing a solution around this problem, which the Minister is considering at the moment. No doubt she will engage the member more.

The SPEAKER: Order! I have noticed that the clock was not reset. The Minister has an additional one minute.

Mr RYAN PARK: Hopefully that solution will be considered before the end of this year. I remind all members that when we were in opposition we made two significant commitments in the lead-up to the election. One commitment concerned the record investment into Kids Helpline. Members who have been involved in the education of young people know how important that is. The other commitment was the new record investment into Lifeline. I also note the importance of that. I thank the member for Wakehurst for his advocacy and for being a tenacious fighter for his community. He should rest assured that the Minister in the other place is doing a fantastic job and will continue to engage with him and his community to deliver better services for the people of northern Sydney.

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