In Parliament

Members Statement - Children's Mental Health



Wednesday, 8 September 2021.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton):

Parents know that the shattered mental health of our kids is the biggest threat facing our State.

They know there is a mental health shadow pandemic in Victoria, despite the State Labor Government trying to deny it and seeking to cover it up.

The truth is known because the community has felt it.

We also know because secret reports, which set out up-to-date health data, have been publicly released. Data the State Government has tried to hide.

The most recent Victorian Agency for Health Information child and adolescent edition report shows that each week an average of 342 children and teenagers present to emergency departments, in a mental health crisis.

And more specifically:

  • 156 teenagers were rushed to hospital after self-harming and suffering suicidal ideation—which represents an 88 per cent increase on last year; and
  • more than 37 teenagers required resuscitation and emergency treatment—an 83 per cent increase on last year.

Disturbingly, new information from Victoria’s Coroners Court reinforces how the shadow pandemic is most harming children and teenagers.

Court data shows that in the first seven months of the year, eight teenage girls have taken their life—in the first seven months of last year, one young girl took her life.

The Court itself has publicly confirmed the troubling increase, saying: ‘The Court has noted a potentially higher than expected number of suspected suicides among women under 18 this year’.

We should mourn any young child taking their life.

Any child lost represents decades of life not lived.

It is heartbreaking. We should fight frantically to stop it.

And any increase in loss of life amongst young people should be met with a sense of distress from Government, followed by hasty action seeking to do whatever it can to do more.

Victorians can see the truth.

They know this mental health crisis is not being met by a government desperate to do something.

In fact, we have witnessed this Government’s immediate response was to cover up.

Did the Government quickly and repeatedly incorporate mental health messaging into the daily press conference? No.

Has the Government ensured that expert mental health advice helps shape lockdown restrictions? No.

Or finally, and most egregiously, 20 months into the pandemic, has the

Government already provided a mental health specialist at every primary school?

Again, no.

This Government shouldn’t just hang their heads in shame.

The Government’s behaviour hasn’t just been unconscionable.

Their lack of action isn’t only immoral.

It’s malicious.