LETTERS: Time to connect and discuss mental health

TIME TO THINK: Everyone is being encouraged to consider themselves and those around them on World Mental Health Day on October 10.
TIME TO THINK: Everyone is being encouraged to consider themselves and those around them on World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Time to connect and discuss mental health

WORLD Mental Health Day is held on October 10 and I encourage everyone - whether you have a lived experience of mental illness or not - to think about mental health and wellbeing of yourself and those around you.

The journey to positive mental health is not a journey we should walk alone. I have been working with disadvantaged young people for over 40 years and each person I work with has their own unique story and journey to share. I encourage them to connect with trusted family and friends to share their journey towards better mental health, and I am asking you to do the same.

Mental health issues affect everyone. Whether or not you yourself are experiencing mental illness there is always someone around you who is.

As a community we need to look out for each other and that begins with talking. From my experience on dealing with mental health I know that starting a conversation can be the biggest turning point for vulnerable young people.

At Youth Off The Streets, we have dedicated youth and case workers who assist young people on a daily basis.

The unfortunate truth is that 14 per cent of Australian young people aged four to 17 have mental health or behavioural problems and it is imperative for us to step in and support our vulnerable kids at this time of crucial growth.

Taking the time to discuss these issues, how they are affecting you and how you are overcoming them can set the path for not only your growth, but for others to follow in the journey of self-care.

This World Mental Health Day, I urge you to support each other and in particular support our young people in starting conversations. Please visit www.1010.org.au/ for more information.

- Father Chris Riley, Youth Off The Streets CEO

Get on with developing a coherent energy policy

AFTER years of campaigning, the Victorian community won a permanent ban on the process of fracking for unconventional gas and an extended moratorium on the development of conventional gas.

The ban is widely supported by the community. This fantastic result - which protects our land, water, farms and climate from this dangerous industry across western Victoria and Gippsland - has been relentlessly criticised by the gas industry and many in the federal government, who have refused to accept that both the ALP and Coalition supported the legislation creating the frack ban.

In recent weeks, the pressure on the state government to lift the ban has ramped up significantly. PM Malcolm Turnbull has intensified his attacks, former PM Tony Abbott has suggested defence forces should be engaged to coerce states to approve gas mining, and Treasurer Scott Morrison has suggested that states should lose GST revenue if they don't lift fracking bans.

In reality, the key reason we face ever higher costs for our gas is because the federal government has relentlessly pursued the development of an export liquid natural gas (LNG) industry.

As consumers we are now competing on the international market for gas. State based bans and moratoriums - as exist in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and the NT - are not driving up prices. To his credit, Nationals MP Andrew Broad has said that exports, not bans are the reason we are facing high prices, but this begs the question: where are the other state Coalition MPs on this issue?

The federal government needs to stop playing politics with our state. They need to get on with developing a coherent national energy policy, and intervene in the gas market so that local consumers are paying reasonable prices for this resource, and the Victorian Coalition needs to publicly distance themselves from this push to drill and frack by their federal counterparts.

- Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth