The National Party has pledged more than $50 million to youth mental health reforms if the Coalition is re-elected in the New South Wales state election.
The reforms will see two mental health specialists employed in every public high school across the state, to ensure students have access to essential services. It will also include the creation of a Minister for Regional Youth and the establishment of a $50 million Regional Youth Taskforce in the next term of government.
Member for Bathurst and Nationals candidate Paul Toole said the taskforce would focus on keeping youths in their local communities.
The party wants to see a student support officer and a mental health professional in every public NSW high school, as well as 100 additional school counsellors or psychologists. If re-elected, the Nationals will also seek to implement a tea of specialists psychologists for students in rural and remote areas.
The taskforce will also look at the ice epidemic and drug related matters.
Mr Toole said the taskforce would tailor programs specifically for regional communities.
“Critically they will need to go out and talk to communities, talk to stakeholders, talk to leaders, talk to different organisations about what is the right size, what is the right fit within their local area,” he said.
“Then we’re able to tailor a mental health package that will be suitable for the needs of that local area.
“We’re losing too many people. We’re losing young people to suicide. This is not acceptable. We have to actually undertake all measures to make sure we are saving our youth… so it’s important and critical that we get the right measures put in place to be able to adopt this,” he said.
Voters will head to the polls across the state on Saturday, with early indications it could be a hung parliament.