The Hon. C.J. PICTON (Kaurna—Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (11:28): On behalf of the member for Elder, I move:
That this house—
(a) notes that 10 October 2023 is World Mental Health Day;
(b) acknowledges the importance of raising awareness of mental health issues;
(c) recognises the Malinauskas Labor government’s commitment to supporting and improving mental health services, including providing an extra 120 mental health beds to ease pressures on our hospital system so that people can get the help they need;
(d) commends the government for reversing the former Liberal government’s decision to abolish the role of a full-time mental health commissioner in SA; and
(e) encourages South Australians to look after each other and themselves and seek help if they are struggling.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:28): I rise to speak to this motion and the amended motion on World Mental Health Day. Mental health obviously affects everyone throughout the community to varying degrees. As has been indicated already today, there are many challenges, and there are many challenges at the moment right across the farming sectors of our state. We have had four or five pretty good years in agriculture. That does not mean there have not been challenging times with some of the seasons, but they have been pretty handy seasons generally—pretty handy incomes from sheep, cattle and cropping.
It has not been universal. There are certainly plenty of challenges in the irrigation sectors, with uncertainty about the future of water, with the flooding recently and the future of areas along the River Murray in South Australia, especially on the lower end, with what will be the management of those flood plain swamps into the future. It certainly can have, and does have, a debilitating impact on people.
I am hearing stories firsthand already, where we are seeing the sheep prices that are cascading because of what I believe are poor decisions about the banning, or the potential banning, of the live sheep trade out of Western Australia. It has a direct impact on stock prices not just here in South Australia but right across the Eastern States as well. Because of that, more and more stock is being trucked to South Australia, some to feedlots and some to abattoirs.
What people need to understand is that the live sheep price always put a floor in the market for those wethers that were heading, generally, to the Middle East. When you take a market completely out of an equation it kills the market, literally. It has had quite a debilitating effect. People getting sheep processed are getting charged now for getting rid of the skins, at about $2.50 a head. People do not think that is much, but it adds up to be a fair bit if you are sending, depending on the truck size, 400, 600 or 800 sheep on a load to be processed.
We have certainly seen that beef prices have come down as well. It is just the vagaries of the market. Some people have been caught—it was just the way the market fared—buying pregnancy tests at a higher price for in-calf heifers or young cows. The next thing, in a very short space of time, almost overnight, was that those prices had halved, and they have been left in a real situation where, instead of unloading that stock and trying to make some money, they have to find some feed, whether that is agistment or on another property.
There is also word getting through now that people have geared up—and that is fine. Machinery is very dear, very expensive, in farming. Harvesters now cost north of $1 million; a lot of tractors are knocking that $1 million mark; air seeders would be way up there, up around $600,000 or $700,000; and boom sprayers are around the same mark. I am probably a little bit off on the price, but it is an expensive game. It is an expensive game.
The issue is that, all of a sudden, there has been a serious drop in market prices for sheep and cattle, and that is having an effect. I am already hearing of properties that have been put on the market, family properties that have been held in families, sometimes for generations, because all of a sudden there is this major impact on the bottom line. It is tough, and we give our support to those farmers. They need all the support they can get.
Certainly, mental health is one of those things that affects people right across the board, including our youth. I acknowledge the work of Headspace in Murray Bridge and right across the state, helping our youth and giving them options to get together, whether it is just simple stuff like getting together and forming a band or just having somewhere to go and meet instead of sitting at home being on the infernal phone and getting trolled. Sadly, some kids, as we have seen in the past, have taken their lives because of what they have seen on social media. It is a terrible thing, some of the bullying that goes on. My heart goes out when you hear of those terrible circumstances and the terrible result, not just for the child, obviously, but for the families involved.
Right across my electorate—and the boundaries have changed many times in my five terms; I am in my fifth term now—suicide prevention networks right across the community are doing their best to get their message out to assist people so that they can make the right decisions moving forward. I know another group, Silent Ripples, in Murray Bridge every year has a memorial on the banks of the river, opposite the Bridgeport Hotel, remembering those who sadly have lost their lives to suicide and thinking about the families left behind.
I have also been pleased to be involved in Ski for Life. I do not think they have had an event for a little while now, but seven or eight times at least, probably more, I have been at the launch of that in Murray Bridge early in the morning. It is quite a few hundred kilometres to do the loop right through to Renmark. Some people ski the whole way, but usually it is teams skiing up the river. That is all about promoting suicide prevention and good mental health. They get quite a few teams there with the speedboats and support crews. It is a great way to get people together to get that message across.
Another thing I want to bring up today as the shadow minister for veterans affairs is veteran suicide. This happens far, far too often for the men and women who have served our country and, for a range of reasons, cannot get the answers they want. I note that the federal inquiry into veteran suicide is ongoing and has recently been in Adelaide. We need to do all we can for those men and women who signed up as recruits, sometimes at a fairly young age, to serve their country and were prepared from that moment to lay down their lives. No greater thing can someone give to their country. The fact is that they are prepared to do that.
Sadly, some have lost their lives in battle, but then so many more lose their lives when they come home. We see people coming home from the challenges of places like, in more recent times, Rwanda and Afghanistan and from the wars in Iraq. There are also people who have served in Timor and other places. This came after we saw the troops coming home from Vietnam, who were not welcomed home. A lot of them still struggle today. The more support we can give to people who have given their all and are prepared to give everything to those of us who are not serving in the military, the better. Whether it is home or overseas, it does not matter—it is vital service to our country wherever it is. I salute them all.
We need to make sure we keep getting the supports throughout the community. In the last little bit of time I have left, I want to acknowledge MATES in Construction as well, because the construction industry is another area where too many suicides take place. I acknowledge the work of MATES in Construction, where they have their toolbox meetings and those kinds of things to talk to tradies to just help them along and give them that good advice.
I would have missed a whole range of organisations, but I want to acknowledge everyone in their work to get the right outcome on World Mental Health Day. I thank everyone involved. I urge people, if they are in trouble, just to talk to someone. There are plenty of people prepared to listen. I support the amended motion.