Shadow ministers demand more mental health intervention
Queensland shadow ministers have called upon the State Government to increase their mental healthcare budget after startling data revealed a significant spike in suicides in the region.
Member for Mudgeeraba Ros Bates, Member for Southport Rob Molhoek and Member for Warrego Ann Leahy spoke of what they believed were failings by the Palaszczuk government on February 18 at a press conference outside Dalby Hospital.
Mr Molhoek said he and his colleagues paid a visit to Chinchilla to talk with the Primary Health Network and the mental health support team on the ground.
"What's very clear is the mental health workers are being called on to provide more and more services around counselling," he said.
"We've already seen a significant spike in suicides in the region, which is double the national average."
Data released in December 2020 revealed the South and North Burnett, only hours from the Western Downs, had the highest suicide rate in Queensland.
Mr Molhoek said this was concerning as there is a lack of counselling and support services provided in rural areas across the state.
"Some mental health clients have up to five or six support workers constantly interchanging, so they never get the chance to build that trust," he said.
Ms Leahy said the drought was "not over" for south west Queensland, with the impacts of both that and the pandemic taking a toll on young people.
"This is leading to increased suicide rates, showing that more services are required from the State Government to help those people through tough times," Ms Leahy said.
"We're having ongoing conversations with the State Government, however it is challenging and difficult for those living in smaller communities."
She said all Queenslanders should have access to adequate mental health care, with the Palaszczuk Government needing to "ramp up" their efforts.
"People should have access to those services like those in other parts of the state," she said.
"There's no point in having a world class health system when it's only the world class who can access it.
"[Regional areas] are the ones producing the food and fibre for the communities across Queensland, and keeping the exports industry going for Australia.
"We owe it to them to provide access to these vital services."