Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honour to be here with you this morning.
I want to say thank you firstly to all of the community leaders. As we look around the room today, we have some incredible figures who have provided significant leadership in their own multicultural communities. You’re most welcome here in our Parliament House this morning and I appreciated the conversation that we were able to have with a few of you earlier this morning.
I also want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in which we meet today and acknowledge the wonderful presentation from Minister McBride as well. Emma, thank you very much for those heartfelt words and they’re very genuine words in terms of the desire to work on a bipartisan basis together.
There are many issues where we can have disagreements and go to and fro in this place, but there’s a lot more that we agree on than the Australian public might realise. We should shine a light on opportunities, particularly where we could help Australians, young Australians, people from many and diverse backgrounds who have mental health needs. This is an opportunity this morning to shine that light, so thank you.
Vasan, thank you very much for your leadership. To Jim Goodin as well, who brings a wealth of experience as the Deputy Chair and provides great support to the Board, to the organisation. The achievements, the outcomes, the lives that are saved, the interventions that are made: it’s a great credit to you and to the Board, so thank you very much for what you do.
I should acknowledge all the Board members just for the sake of matrimonial harmony as well here today.
Vasan, you mentioned Simon Crean before, who’s passed away only in recent months, and there were very many tributes rightly to him in the Chamber, but Carole Crean sits with Kirilly and others on the Board very proudly – and Carole served for many years with great distinction in her role – we acknowledge the pain and grief that the Crean family’s gone through this year.
I also want to say thank you very much for bringing the Mental Health Foundation of Australia to Parliament House. One of the things that we know in this building is that it’s very busy, that there are huge demands on the time of Ministers – and I acknowledge Minister Giles who’s just arrived as well – but there are many needs and so many great causes, but for you to be here and to talk about the work and to create an awareness, I think is incredibly important because the work that you do from afar is incredible, as I said before, but the community leaders, our nation’s leaders here need to hear more about the work of the Foundation. So thank you for that. I know it’s been a significant effort, but it’s been a worthwhile one.
Thank you to all my colleagues who are here today as well. To Keith Wolahan, to Gavin Pearce – you get in trouble once you start to look around – but to all of our colleagues who are here, thank you very much because there are many colleagues in the room – Michael Sukkar and others who’ve been mentioned before – who have really been immersed in this issue in their local community because of a personal story, because of a constituent who’s made a representation, because of a community leader who has a relationship and is able to bring a case to the attention of that local Member and connect them with the service, that’s incredibly important.
I’ll just finish on this note, which is the spirit of the gathering here today; and that is to really celebrate the fact that the Mental Health Foundation Australia Organisation has reached out into multicultural communities where people don’t have English as their first language. The resources online, the use of AI, the use of technology – and the foundation is an early embracer of technologies, and that is a great thing because to provide a service in multiple languages, particularly to older Australians who may be suffering in silence otherwise, in a multicultural community – the work that you do, I don’t think we can put enough emphasis on the need for more to be done. I have no doubt, Emma, the message came through loud and clear to me as it did to you and as it does to Melissa McIntosh, our Shadow Minister for Mental Health as well, that funding is needed and there are many good services, as I say, but that no doubt is a call that we all hear and I’m sure that we can provide support to the wonderful organisations that deliver services. So, thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all very much. You’re going to hear from my wonderful colleague Melissa McIntosh shortly as well, who as I say has a great deal of passion in this area.
I’m really honoured to be associated with the Foundation. I congratulate the CEO, the Board, all the staff, the volunteers, and importantly, most importantly today, the multicultural leaders who here. You make our country a wonderful place.
There are many within our Jewish community today who are really suffering in great pain because of the terrorist attacks that took place on the 7th of October. They feel a great uncertainty, a great level of angst and stress within their communities, and understandably so. And we pay special tribute and pause to think of the grief that they’re going through, the loved ones that they’ve lost and the support that they need over the course of the coming weeks, months and years. No doubt many of you will be able to be part of that healing and that rebuilding of a very, very volatile community.
Thank you all very much. It’s a strong show of support for the work of the Foundation, and I’m really very honoured to be here.