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Mother of Bondi stabbing victim pleads for more support

Elizabeth Young says Australia's mental health system is in crisis and urgent action is needed.

Elizabeth Young says Australia's mental health system is in crisis and urgent action is needed. Photo: AAP

Elizabeth Young lost her daughter Jade during the horrific stabbing spree in Bondi and is using her grief to call for more mental health support to stop such a tragedy happening again.

The mass attack at the Bondi Junction shopping centre in Sydney’s east in April left six people dead.

Jade, a 47-year-old architect and mother of two, was the primary victim of the attack but three other families were collateral damage, Young said.

An inconsistent approach to mental healthcare and trauma response across states meant some in her family were given greater opportunities to recover than others, she said.

“Our NSW families were given unconditional support, we were introduced to our police liaison person, we were guided through the first steps of recovery,” she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“In the nearly three months since, with the aid of specialist mental health practitioners, we are beginning to emerge from the miasma of suffering.”

But her son PJ and his family who had recently moved to Hobart were left in the lurch.

They were left out of pocket, given long lists of specialists with those in their local area unavailable and the sole provider in Hobart didn’t return their calls, Young said.

Telehealth options were unavailable and the children – aged nine and 11 – were unable to find child psychologists before a trauma specialist was found in Sydney months later.

“After the horror of the Bondi Junction stabbings, the federal and state and territory governments committed to a National Mental Health Ministers’ meeting to discuss joint action on mental health reform,” the mother said.

However, three months on, no date or agenda has been set.

“Please, in the long shadow of the horror Jade’s death, I beg you as the voice of three shattered households please actually do something about the discrepancies, the disparities, the inconsistencies.”

Australia’s mental health system was in crisis and immediate action was needed, she said.

“Think as ordinary humans, think as a mother, a father, a husband, a sister, a brother.

“Find the courage to work together to co-ordinate action on mental health reform and funding.”

Young was in Canberra to attend a mental health roundtable held by Allegra Spender, the independent MP whose electorate includes Bondi.

The system hadn’t resulted in people falling through the cracks so much as disappearing into chasms, Spender said.

“What people are asking for is consistent care, care that they can rely on, care that is going to be there in the long term,” she said.

People with diabetes or at risk of developing it were given access to preventative treatment to try and manage the disease “but we do not have the same approach with mental health”, she said.

Hearing from people like Young alongside carers and people with relevant experience was integral to making improvements in the sector, Health Minister Mark Butler said.

“For every Australian, everywhere, with every level of need, governments are working together to ensure the right level of mental health support is available,” he said.

Health and mental health ministers will meet in coming weeks, he said.

The health minister and assistant minister for mental health met with Young on Wednesday.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)

– AAP

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