MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (09:53:42): Courtney Herron’s tragic death still resonates with me now. It led me to deeply reflect: had she not been struggling with serious mental distress, had she not been suffering in isolation, had she not been homeless, would she still be with us today?
Housing and early intervention is vital. I was talking to my intern and she revealed that in high school she knew of many students who suffered and are still suffering from intense mental distress and have displayed tendencies of homelessness, often leaving home without notice and not returning until one or two weeks later.
She revealed that the students seeking assistance from the school’s health office were told that, ‘You know, everyone has these issues—you’ll be fine’. But 27 680 young people aged just 12 to 24, according to the Salvation Army, are couch surfing or on the streets on any night. That is 23 per cent of our homeless.
Students suffering in silence are another reminder that we are just not doing enough. It is time we focused on early interventions to identify and support those at risk of mental health issues and homelessness in our youth.
As I keep saying, a fence at the top of the cliff is far more effective than an ambulance at the bottom, and I would very much like to thank our intern, Freda Meng, who is a first-year politics student at Monash University and a very clever woman.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Members Statement 5/6/19