Local News

Nationals candidate in Hunter challenges incumbent Joel Fitzgibbon to match their mental health commitment

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With only just over a week until the Federal Election, Headspace centres have become the topic of the week between the two major parties in the Hunter.

At the start of April the Nationals Candidate Josh Angus announced his party would deliver a headspace centre for Cessnock.

At the end of April, incumbent Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon announced that Labor would also deliver a headspace centre for Cessnock.

Josh Angus has said today that they plan to deliver 30 new Headspace sites across the country.

“Twenty of those will be for regional Australia, here I feel they are needed the most and I think as we all know I made the announcement at the beginning of April that a new headspace would be established in Cessnock.”

“Joel announced headspace for Cessnock I think about a week and a half ago which is great that regardless of who wins the seat headspace will be delivered which is great anyway but Labor’s plan for headspace is 20 sites they haven’t made a commitment to any of them being specifically for regional Australia other than Cessnock,” he said.

“I’m fairly confident that the majority of those will end of in metropolitan areas,” added Josh Angus.

Labor has promised they will invest $200 million in headspace Plus to improve services for young people with moderate to complex needs to help them get more mental health support than they would get at a GP or their local headspace centre.

$144 million will go towards three trial metropolitan headspace Plus sites.

Incumbent Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon says when it comes to what Josh Angus says about his headspace plans, he takes it “as a grain of salt”.

“I officially opened headspace in Maitland 10 years ago now when Labor as last in government and it was my ambition then to of course roll out more throughout the Valley of course but what happened, we lost government,”

“Now after six years we’ve not seen another headspace, we just made a commitment that we would restart the program, I’ve announced the first one will be in Cessnock. It’s no good for Josh Angus now to pop up after six years of nothing and promise to do something if this dysfunctional government is given three more years,” said Joel Fitzgibbon.

“if the nationals announced a headspace in Cessnock last month I missed it, I’m highly skeptical about that , but they’ve had six years,”

The Nationals Josh Angus also accused Labor of having no plan for mental health.

“We need to send Labor a message and say there’s more to Australia than East Coast metro areas and regional youth need attention and particularly on mental health.”

“I’m asking Labor to match our commitment on mental health we have a $4.8 billion commitment to mental health ranging from youth and adults as well, 30 headspace centres, 20 of them regional, it’s not a big jump from what Labor has already got so I’m hoping Labor can match that as well.”

Joel Fitzgibbon said when it came to his opponents opinion of his Party’s mental health policy, he just ill informed.

“I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I won’t accuse him of just spinning this late in an election campaign I’ll just accuse him of being ignorant of what’s going on.”

“Six years they’ve had to do something about mental health and he wants to criticise the Labor party? Hello Josh, who is in government?”

Image credit: Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon