As seen in the seat of Wentworth, where Kerryn Phelps nudged out 117 years worth of Liberal domination, independents from across the country are rising up on a tide of public opinion – which is calling for progressive change.
The Victorian State Election is no different.
Independents from across the state are banding together, led by community development professional and independent candidate for Eildon Michelle Dunscombe, to champion change on the issue of mental health and welcome a Royal Commission.
The independent candidates include:
- Michelle Dunscombe – Eildon
- Ali Cupper – Mildura
- Tracie Lund – Morwell
- Jacqui Hawkins – Benambra
- Jenny O’Connor – Benambra
- Suzanna Sheed MP – Shepparton (incumbent)
Collectively, and with the support of Orygen (The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health), this group are championing:
- The removal of geographic mental health boundaries, thus allowing to people to access the service of their choice
- Strengthening the mental health workforce across rural areas
- Place-based services across Victoria
- Support for preventative and early intervention programs.
“We welcome a Royal Commission into mental health and call on all parties to commit to the mental health of our communities,” said Dunscombe.
“Almost half of us (45 per cent) will experience a mental health condition in our lifetime and over 75 per cent of mental health problems occur before the age of 25.”
Independent candidate for Benambra Jacqui Hawkins said: “Victoria needs to lead the way and think differently on how we respond to mental illness. We need to ensure there is support early so people are not left until they are acute.”
“As a collective we support the work of Orygen, the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health and their call to prioritise of youth mental health this Victorian State election,” Hawkins said.
According to Orygen, the number of 10-19 year olds admitted to Victorian emergency departments due to mental health related issues has risen by almost 50% in the last seven years.
Executive Director of Orygen, Professor Patrick McGorry, said change is both urgent and possible.
“Here in Victoria, every year, tens of thousands of young people with complex or severe mental health disorders and problems cannot access the care they desperately need.”
“We’re not just talking here about teenage angst or the human condition. We’re talking about mental ill health that impacts in serious ways on the development of young people.”
‘We are calling on all political parties and candidates to endorse the proposed Royal Commission, which will provide the platform to redesign, integrate and create mental-health-care systems for the new era where hope and recovery are the expected norm.” he said.
Dunscombe’s approach to community-led change is one of ‘kitchen table’ or ‘cuppa conversations’ and deep listening added “People want values-based representatives who understand the priorities of the electorate and are connected to the community.”
“Independent representatives have a much greater ability to listen directly to the community and advocate for change without being influenced by the pre-determined ideologies of a particular political party,” Dunscombe said.
Anyone needing help can contact:
Lifeline: 13 11 44
Kids helpline: 1800 55 1800