Mental health care is an issue that affects everyone, stretching across generations and across socio-economic groups.
In my electorate wide survey, mental health care consistently ranks as one of the top priority issues.
It inspired me to host a Higgins community meeting on Mental Health, both to share information from our expert panel, and to receive feedback about how policy in this area should be shaped. More than 200 people turned up and it was standing room only with people sharing their stories and hearing from expert panellists Jeff Kennett AC, from beyondblue, Prof. Kulkarni, from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre and Quinn Pawson, from the Prahran Mission.
I mention this because often one of the greatest challenges to people receiving the help and care they need is that no one knows there is a problem.
Today is RUOK Day, a day where we remind people that they should regularly stop to ask those close to them, family, friends and work colleagues, whether they are OK.
Simply by lending your ears to listen to others, to give support or help them find the right support, can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
The first R U OK day was launched in 2009 and was formed in the memory of Barry Larkin, who took his own life in 1995. Gavin, his son, was the driving force behind this initiative. Members on both sides of this chamber joined together this morning for a morning tea to mark this day and to raise awareness that we need to care for those around us.
Organisations like Beyondblue and lifeline offer fantastic services to those in need and their work cannot be commended highly enough. If unsure where to go, speak to your local GP for advice.