8th February, 2024
The lack of adolescent mental health services on Sydney's northern beaches is a serious problem for my community. The number of 12 to 17-year-olds presenting to hospital EDs with self-harm injuries increased by nearly 50 per cent for the year to July 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. Pittwater also has one of the highest rates of suicide for those between the ages of 15 and 24 of anywhere in greater Sydney. It's higher than in the eastern suburbs, the shire, the inner west, Parramatta or Penrith. The northern beaches area is particularly at risk, with data indicating a shortfall of up to 145 acute mental health beds. So nearly two years ago the northern beaches community was extremely relieved when, following a number of critical incidents, the then Liberal state government announced $11 million to improve acute adolescent mental health services that would be provided at the Northern Beaches Hospital. Over $7 million of that amount was earmarked for a new four-bed adolescent mental health ward. As I said, this was extremely welcome news.
The problem is that, now nearly two years on, the Northern Beaches Hospital has still refused to implement or establish this four-bed adolescent mental health ward. Why? Because the Northern Beaches Hospital is a public/private hospital. It's the only one left in New South Wales after failed experiments in previous places. I know that Rose Jackson, the state Minister for Mental Health, has tried very hard to resolve this issue, but she has no power to direct a private hospital. (Time expired)