R U OK? Day

Mr DULUK (Waite) (11:30): I move:
That this house—
(a) recognises that 10 September 2018 is World Suicide Prevention Day and 13 September 2018 is R U OK? Day;
(b) recognises the importance of both these days in raising awareness and understanding about suicide and its prevention among the community; and
(c) acknowledges all the workplaces, community groups and schools organising R U OK? Day events to encourage conversations among their peers.

I rise today to touch upon the importance of mental health, the horrible impact of suicide and the R U OK? campaign that actively works to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to provide options for people contemplating suicide. As leaders voted in by our community to advocate on their behalf, it is important that we continue to shed light on topics, events and actions that will have a positive impact on the community, even if they are difficult subjects. Many people know someone with a mental illness, or they themselves might be living with a mental illness or have experienced these issues.


R U OK? is an organisation and a movement that aims to prevent suicide by empowering community members to have regular meaningful conversations with those around them, starting off with the first question: are you okay? I am sure that many of you sitting in the chamber today have heard about all the hard work of the organisation and probably worked with them in some way over the years.


When asking someone if they are okay, we need to remember that we are asking this question without judgement and that we will be listening without judgement. We need to listen and encourage the person to take positive action, such as seeking professional help. We need to note that asking this question is not just a one-time check-in. If someone you know is struggling, regular check-ins and meaningful conversations are incredibly important. We must follow up with that person, be there by their side and be there when they are having a bad day, need a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic listening ear.


There has been a significant focus on suicide prevention and mental health in recent years, and rightly so. It has only been in recent years that society has become better at encouraging people to seek help if they are struggling with mental health issues. It is fantastic that there are organisations across the state, the nation and around the world advocating that we care for our minds as much as we care for our bodies.


R U OK? Day is the national day of action held in Australia each year to remind every individual of the importance of supporting and connecting with people around us, especially those who may be experiencing mental health issues. The campaign was first launched in 2009, and this year R U OK? Day is on 13 September. We are reminded to ask family, friends and colleagues the question, 'Are you okay?' and to have a meaningful and regular conversation about how people are going.


Quite simply, it encourages people to reach out to their loved ones. It can be too easy in this day and age to let connections with family and friends slip by without realising it. We are all negligent of that. Everyone is busy, everyone is rushed and it can be hard to find the time to talk to loved ones who may be going through a rough time or experiencing mental health issues. The R U OK? campaign not only encourages people to reach out to those around them but encourages people who are struggling to reach out to others about their problems and to seek professional help. If you are feeling distressed, it can be helpful to discuss this with someone you trust.


Acknowledging and discussing feelings can include talking to peers about what you are going through and keeping in contact with loved ones. The emphasis of the campaign is on reaching out and connecting with people who are struggling. Actions, even simple ones, are vital to making sure people feel loved, supported and cared for.


R U OK? Day comes around once a year. However, this does not mean we should not be more sympathetic and more caring each and every day of the year. It is especially important to follow up when someone has said that they are not okay and to know what options are available to you and to them to support that person. When you know someone who is behaving differently from their normal behaviour or is having a difficult time, maybe at school, at work or at home, be there for them to let them know that support is available.


I encourage everyone to check with friends, family and the people in our communities, to listen and to make sure that everyone is okay. If this speech reminds you of someone you know who needs help, please go and connect with them. Reach out to someone who is having a hard time and assure them that there is no shame in asking for help. R U OK? is an organisation that works towards promoting greater awareness around mental health, discussion around suicide and mental health issues. They are committed to increasing awareness of suicide prevention services and breaking down mental health stigma. This is an important action in society. We need to reduce stigma and to encourage people to seek help without feeling any shame. One suicide in our community is one too many. Many of us have been touched in some way by the death of someone who has taken their own life.


Suicide is an absolutely tragic act. Suicide rates in this country are increasing and we need to take care of our communities and ensure that everyone is mentally healthy. World Suicide Prevention Day is on 10 September, and the theme for this year is Working Together to Prevent Suicide. The theme works with the efforts of the R U OK? Day campaign. Both days and both themes highlight the importance of taking notice of what is happening in our families, with our friends, our colleagues and our communities, and raising awareness of the increased availability of the support that needs to be undertaken.


Both World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day encourage the seeking out of the necessary knowledge to be able to help yourself and to help others. Many families' lives are affected by suicide. In 2016, 2,866 Australians took their own lives. Research has also revealed that around 65,000 people attempt suicide each year, impacting many people in a tragic way. For every suicide tragedy, there is an affected family and there are affected friends and a community who experience the long-lasting and devastating effects of suicide.


Yesterday, the new Marshall Liberal government handed down its budget. I would like to touch on some of the fantastic initiatives in the budget around suicide, mental health and those people who need our assistance. In the 2018-19 budget, $2.5 million has been allocated to expand suicide prevention networks and other services working in suicide prevention to increase support and to break down stigma associated with mental illness and suicide.


This is $2.5 million that is going to go directly to grassroots groups to help with the fantastic advocacy work that they do. I know that in my community the Mitcham suicide prevention network. does some absolutely fantastic work. Chaired by Rob O'Sullivan, they meet at the Blackwood Community Centre opposite my office. Their work in my community is very important. I would like to put on the record their great work.


An additional ministerial adviser has been allocated to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing's office to provide advice on suicide prevention and related issues to assist the work of the Premier's Council on Suicide Prevention, and $10 million has been allocated over four years for a new specialist borderline personality disorder service. This is a really important area and one that governments of all persuasions have not had the inclination to support or fund for many, many years, so it is a very much welcomed initiative by this new Liberal government. I know that it will certainly receive bipartisan support because of the very important work that it does.


A target for 2018-19 is to develop the South Australian suicide registry, which is a way to monitor those issues. There will be improved services for paediatric eating disorders, with $3.3 million over four years committed to establish a dedicated paediatric eating disorder service. We realise how important it is to fund these services, and that is exactly what we are doing. The government realises that funding for mental health services is a serious task. It needs more than just words; it needs actions, and our commitment to funding these services is reflected in this year's state budget.


The campaign emphasises how important it is to reach out to people who may be experiencing mental health problems and to really connect. That is the aim of our policy positions. These actions can seem small, but they often remind people that they are loved, supported and cared for. It is so important that government policy reflects the desires and needs of those who are so important.


Another important thing that the government has recently undertaken is the formation of the Premier's Council on Suicide Prevention, and I am proud to be a member of that council. It shows a commitment to community wellbeing and has a strong focus on building a healthy connected community. The council will be led by the Hon. John Dawkins MLC, from the other place, and will be tasked with delivering improvements in policy and services to reduce the impact of suicide in our metropolitan areas, and to play an important part in our rural communities. Thirteen South Australians have agreed to serve on this council, and I admire their dedication in stepping up to the plate to help tackle this important issue.


The 13 people on the council are: Jill Chapman, founder and Chairperson of Minimisation of Suicide Harm Australia; Janet Kuys, founder and co-ordinator of Silent Ripples; Peter May, founder of the Treasuring Life South East Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Network; Tracey Wanganeen, coordinator of Country SA South for StandBy Support after Suicide; Chez Curnow, Assistant Manager of Suicide Prevention and Low Intensity Strategies for Country SA Primary Health Network; Kelly Vincent, a former member of the other place and advocate for rights of people with disabilities; Chad McLaren, who has a background in the Army Reserve, the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Defence Force; Simon Schrapel AM, CEO of Uniting Communities, which does wonderful work with Lifeline; Rev Peter Sandeman, CEO of Anglicare SA; Dr Kate Fennell, Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide and Research Fellow at the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia; Dr Peter Tyllis, former chief psychiatrist for South Australia; and Dr Seema Jain, a general practitioner who has run a private practice in Elizabeth Vale for many years.


As leaders in our community, we can all help raise awareness and give a voice to all these important campaigns. As I have said, suicide is extremely tragic and we must do everything we can to ensure people know they have options available to help them. As members of parliament, we need to take care of our communities, and that is why the Premier's special Council on Suicide Prevention is so important. In addition to the new measures in the budget, all the fantastic work of community groups such as Lifeline and beyondblue, the importance of motions such as this and initiatives such R U OK? Day, we can all play our part to ensure that our community is safe and healthy; it is so vital.