Monday, 21 March 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Nationals MP Kevin Hogan and suicide numbers in his electorate

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Summary of Findings 2014:

Among those aged 15 to 44, the leading causes of death were Intentional self-harm (suicide), Accidental poisonings (including drug overdoses) and Land transport accidents.

In 2014 the NSW suicide rate for males between the ages of 15-24 years was 14.1 and for females in the same age grouping the suicide rate was 5.4.

Excerpt from North Coast Voices post, 8 December 2014:

By 2013 New South Wales had a suicide rate of 9.1 per 100,000 people for 2009-2013.
In 2012-13 hospitalisation of young people aged between 15 and 24 years for intentional self-harm was significantly higher than the state average in Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas and, on par with the state average in Kyogle, Lismore, Tweed and Richmond Valley local government areas.

Excerpt from ABS media release, 31 March 2015:

Suicide was once again the leading cause of death for Australian's aged 15 to 44. Suicide accounted for 2,520 deaths in 2013 at a standardised death rate of 10.7 per 100,000 people. The median age at death for suicides is lower than for many other causes at 44.5 years of age. As a result, suicide accounted for over 85,000 years of life lost making it the leading cause of premature death in Australia. [my red bolding]

This was  Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan as reported by The Daily Examiner on 19 June 2015:

DESPITE a small number of dedicated youth mental health services in the Clarence Valley, the message from the Federal Government and experts is the region does not require one of the proposed 15 new headspace sites.
Member for Page Kevin Hogan told The Daily Examiner representatives from youth mental health service headspace had been in consultations with Health Minister Sussan Ley, with the Federal Government agreeing to further funding.
"The Federal Government has funded the establishment of new headspace sites to take total number of sites up to 100," Mr Hogan said.
But it is unlikely the Clarence Valley will be the recipient of one of the new headspace sites with Mr Hogan explaining we already had adequate services on the ground.

The Daily Examiner, 12 August 2015:

"The Clarence Valley needs more mental youth services and I will be campaigning for such," Mr Hogan said.

This is the situation in the Clarence Valley section of Hogan’s electorate in March 2016, as reported by ABC News:

Eleven youth suicides in 12 months have prompted a series of crisis meetings in the northern New South Wales city of Grafton.
The deaths have all occurred in the Clarence Valley region and include a 17-year-old girl in the past fortnight.
Meeting organiser Janita Cooper, a mother of three boys, said the Clarence Valley was a tight-knit community where everyone knew someone effected by suicide.
"The youth situation is out of control; it's like a rollercoaster ride," Ms Cooper said.
"The children grieve for one person and a few weeks later, it's another child."
The community's first meeting was held on Monday night with 150 people in attendance.
A working party was formed to campaign for more mental health services in Grafton, including a headspace centre, and another meeting was planned for the end of March.

A search of Hansard reveals that Kevin Hogan has never risen to his feet in the House of Representatives to plead for increased mental health services in the Clarence Valley.

In August 2015 when he was telling valley communities that he would be campaigning for more mental health services for youth, the only things he mentioned to his fellow MPs in the House were the Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards (and what a great night he had in Yamba) and the Clarence Valley’s share of road funding.

Nor can I find any mention to date in the media that Kevin Hogan has personally been in contact with either state or federal health ministers in relation to this very serious health issue.

Apart from attempting to take some credit for the Northern NSW 2015-2018 Mental Health Integration Plan, which flows from the NSW Government strategic mental health plan, the current Federal Nationals Member for Page has done the bare minimum to date with regard to mental health services in his electorate.

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