Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Mental Health

Alister Henskens SC MP speaking in group

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai—Minister for Skills and Training, Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, and Minister for Sport) (21:44): Better mental health is an important endeavour, reducing the risk of chronic conditions for individuals and hospitalisation rates for society, which decreases the burden on the health system. The National Health Survey estimates that one in five Australians experiences a mental or behavioural condition. The fortunate reality is that mental health does not have to adversely affect a person's opportunities or quality of life. For many, that is precisely thanks to organisations that provide critical mental health services.

I recognise Lifeline, an organisation that is contributing towards better mental health in Ku-ring-gai, and broadly across Australia. Lifeline is a national charity that provides all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Its presence ensures that no person in Australia has to face their darkest moments alone. It is crucially important to recognise that the simple act of speaking to someone and forming a connection can bring hope to those who most need it. If the past two years have taught us anything, it is to value and cherish the real-time connections we form with family, friends and colleagues alike.

Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury is one of four Lifeline centres across the country, and services people in Ku-ring-gai, North Sydney, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, Willoughby, Ryde and Hornsby local government areas. Each year the Rotary clubs of Ku-ring-gai, Wahroonga, Turramurra and St Ives run the Bobbin Head Cycle Classic—or the Bobbo for short—a cycling event to raise awareness of mental health and raise funds for mental health services, such as Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury. The funds raised also support other charities, including the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women's Shelter, KYDS Youth Development Service, Mentoring Men and many more.

I attended the Bobbo on Sunday 18 September to start the rides bright and early in the morning, as I have many times in past years. There were four rides, including the 27-kilometre ride for social cyclists, the 57‑kilometre ride for those who want to experience the beauty of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, the 80‑kilometre ride for experienced cyclists, and the challenging 104-kilometre ride. I commend the local Rotary clubs that organised the annual event. Once again, Rotary demonstrates its positive work in the community.

I commend Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury for its tireless work and commitment, and I am pleased that the funds raised support its vital services. As members of the House will know, Lifeline frequently runs training courses for our electorate office staff as well. Lifeline has an enormous number of volunteers, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting over the years. It is an outstanding community organisation. I acknowledge the event's media partners, including the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Post and local community radio stations Northside Radio FM99.3 and Triple H 100.1FM. Finally, I acknowledge the State Emergency Service and the New South Wales Government for their funding and support for the Bobbo. It is not just a fun and exciting event; it is a ride for a great cause.

I look forward to seeing the Bobbo continue in the future so that it can contribute to the ongoing benefits of mental health fundraising for the public. I note that the Government has made mental health a priority as we emerge from the pandemic, committing to a record $130 million investment as part of the New South Wales economic road map to recovery for mental health, and a record $2.9 billion investment in mental health services in the 2022-23 budget. I am pleased to see the combined efforts of the community, individuals, volunteers, private organisations and government to improve mental health and mental health services in my community, with benefits across Australia. Lifeline Harbor to Hawkesbury is one of the few 24/7 emergency crisis lines in Australia. It will take a call at any time, day or night, seven days per week, to help those most in need.

Going back to the Bobbo, it is a great example of an excellent idea that was generated by our local Rotary clubs and then implemented year after year in an incredibly efficient and commendable manner. The Rotarians through the organisation of the event ensure that the riders are safe. Road blocks and other logistical supports are necessary to ensure that the ride is absolutely safe for those who participate. It is a great community event held in the electorate of Ku-ring-gai, which starts at Turramurra Memorial Oval and goes through the beautiful Bobbin Head area and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.