Thursday, 1 June 2023

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Timber industry

Melina BATH, Gayle TIERNEY

Timber industry

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:08): (171) My question is to the Minister for Agriculture. Minister, how many full-time equivalent positions in mental health services are currently based in Gippsland and the Central Highlands timber communities and will be able to deliver face-to-face mental health services for those workers who have lost their jobs?

Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:08): I thank Ms Bath for her question. The arrangements that are in place are referral services that go to the flying doctor service. There are also health services that are connected in terms of the northern part around the Corryong area, and there is also of course provision for mental health referral for those that are closer to the Yarra Ranges.

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:09): I would be grateful if the minister could provide the details of the EFTs. Minister, in Parliament on Tuesday evening, in relation to mental health support services, you told timber workers to ‘engage with the department’. On your advice, Courtney Campbell from Bruthen visited the Victorian government website. To her horror she only found generic hotlines rather than any reference to a tailored service that would provide face-to-face mental health supports for these workers and their families. Given the grief this shock announcement is causing hardworking timber families right now, when will face-to-face mental health services be available?

Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture) (12:10): Again I thank Ms Bath for her question. Workers and their families at this particular time are absolutely at the centre of our thoughts, our actions and our consultations that are occurring. This was subject to discussion with peak organisations even as recently as yesterday, and we know that there is a need for a whole range of support mechanisms. That is why we have been able to stand up a number of support services already. I would suggest that workers in particular should contact ForestWorks, because they are the immediate conduit. In terms of the list of organisations or agencies that I listed on Tuesday night, that was in relation to a range of information points that are available for those that are impacted as a result of the decision in the budget.