Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:07): I rise to support the amended motion and recognise the mover of the original motion, the member for Mount Gambier, and the absolute need for support for the amended motion, which reads:
That this house—
(a) recognises the significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of South Australians;
(b) ensures regional South Australians, with the unique challenges of living in rural and remote areas, are a strong focus of future planning and funding commitments; and
(c) acknowledges the Marshall and Morrison governments' combined approximate $100 million investment towards new mental health initiatives and services in South Australia and welcomes the implementation of the Mental Health Services Plan 2020-2025 and the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.
In my electorate, I am well aware of issues of mental health that come up and I want to acknowledge the vital work that Headspace do in my electorate. They are based in Murray Bridge at the old railway station and I know that they are based in other areas around South Australia. This is a concentration on youth mental health, which is absolutely vital especially in this digital age.
It is sad when you hear examples of quite young children, in many cases, and youth who feel bullied on social media. People do not realise the pain they inflict on people through social media. Sometimes people decide it is too much. I feel strongly for the families of these children. I cannot speak for those who have passed—I guess I can, but I cannot speak to them. I am so sad that it got to a stage where, because of some form of online bullying, in the main, they took their own lives—a terrible situation. These things are not broadcast, but you do hear about them from time to time.
It is interesting to hear the member for Kaurna express his support for regional health, when all they did when they were in power—and he was a health adviser—was shut the Repat and instigate Transforming Health, which was a complete disaster, with $500 million wasted on the EPAS reporting program. To be preached to by people who would not even know where the regions are, I find interesting, to say the least.
I would like to acknowledge the regional health services that are happening in regional areas. Certainly there is support in mental health areas. I am very proud that late last year, along with the minister, the Hon. Stephen Wade, I opened the new emergency department in Murray Bridge, which is so vital, especially in this day and age when all sorts of incidents come in, with people having psychotic episodes and or road accidents.
We have the motorsport park at Tailem Bend, and that makes its own contribution to emergency department admissions, just by the nature of it. It is all part of the nature of a growing community. At the moment, you cannot get a rental in Murray Bridge. We have 22,000 people, and our biggest industry, Thomas Foods meatworks, has been closed since it burnt down on 3 January 2018. We will need up to 2,000 workers from the end of next year onwards as that new meatworks comes into play.
It is great to see this burgeoning area. It means that not only are people coming to the regions to live, because it is a better place to be than living in the city, but also that there are so many opportunities in the regions, whether in agriculture, small industry, medium industry, some of the bigger industries or value-add industries. Obviously there is a lot of value-adding in the regions in the food industries. There is plenty in my area with the mushroom farm, the Big River Pork pig abattoir, and the Thomas Foods facility for cattle and sheep, which is on the way as we speak.
It was a proud moment to open that new emergency centre, and it was very pleasing to run into Dr Peter Rischbieth, who works there with Bridge Clinic. He came and saw me on Saturday when we were at the Murray Bridge races—another great event that happens in the community. He just wanted to thank me for how well the emergency department was working, because finally they have a functional space with about nine treatment rooms, where people can be segregated and families can be together. There are quiet rooms. There are designated rooms for staff. It is an A1 facility compared with the old facility they had there, which basically had curtains between the three emergency beds and the two resuscitation beds, which were in the same room. It is good to see.
I note the call for more mental health services in the regions. There are units, and I think there are six beds each in the Riverland, Mount Gambier and Whyalla. There is always a call to get more help around Murray Bridge. I also note our closeness to regional beds based in the city. That does not mean we should not have regional beds there, and I will be interested in the rollout of the mental health plan in the next few years to see what focus is put on getting mental health beds into Murray Bridge, servicing not just the areas around Murray Bridge but the areas the Murray Bridge health service looks after, which are the Mallee, the Upper South-East, up around the river at Mannum and also out more towards the north-west around Sedan, Cambrai and that area. As you go up the road, Murray Bridge is operating, there is Mount Barker and then you get to the city.
COVID-19 has certainly impacted on border communities probably as much as anywhere. It has been difficult, and the member for Mount Gambier knows this only too well, as do the members for Chaffey and MacKillop. It is tough when we as country MPs know exactly how our border communities work. We know that you need people from across the border to make our communities work on our border, and it works both ways.
While I am speaking about that, I want to acknowledge the Victorian Cross Border Commissioner, who keeps us in touch with what is going on on the Victorian side. It is almost like North Korea and South Korea at the moment with razor wire and pill boxes. It is not quite like that but sometimes it feels like that. You have to wake up and work out, 'What are we doing with Victoria today or what are they doing with us?'
I note that people turn up at the border. I know my brother turned up in a truck the other day and they said, 'Where's your ET form?' He said, 'What?' I will credit the police with what they are doing on the border because this is a tough time, and this does impact on people's mental health, especially those who have had to travel across the border daily for their work. To the police's credit, they fixed him up with his form online and away he went.
It has been tough. When you look at my border community of Pinnaroo and Murrayville, I think seven biosecurity inspectors live in Murrayville, including their boss. You have plenty of health people, nurses, people running their own private health clinics, teachers and mechanics working in dealerships such as Emmetts and Ronco Motors. There has been a huge impact on border communities. We must keep progressing so that we always get better outcomes for border communities and I do not mean just people on our side but also those on the adjacent Victorian side. I note that things have improved in recent times, which is really good.
I fully support this amended motion. Health is one of those things you would have to be a fool to say we could always fully fund because it is virtually impossible. It takes 30 per cent of our state budget, but we must strive to make sure that those dollars go further and further to get the right outcomes for South Australians, especially in regional areas.